Happy New Year!
For those of you who thought the world was going to end in December (an end that the Mayan’s never in fact predicted), welcome back to the party. And it is a party, by the way. I have the highest hopes for 2013 being a fabulous year.
It’s time for resolutions. It’s a time I usually dread. I think back over the resolutions I’ve made (and never kept) in the past and wonder why I should bother. But this year I have a better outlook. One reason is that I know even attempting to improve myself in any way is better than the status quo. Another reason is that everyone needs a clean slate once in a while. This is a great time for a fresh start. Finally, I usually look at the resolutions as something bad that I have to try to change. This year I’m looking at them as something good that I want to try to attain. Perhaps a different outlook will make all the difference in achieving my goals. Even though I’m just starting today (my vacation is just ending because my kids are just going back to school today), I already feel better than I have in prior years. It all has to do with outlook.
Many writing sites say to set both goals (something within your control) and targets (something outside of your control, but likely affected by your goals), and to be specific. They say if you set them publically, you’re more likely to be held accountable. I agree with the goals and targets, and I agree that a public declaration does give you motivation, but I believe that your resolutions are personal. Do what you want with them. If you want to share them for motivation, by all means, take a megaphone to the mall. If posting them above your laptop keeps them on your mind, then post them there. Write them in glitter paint and hang them across from your toilet dining table so you see them several times a day. Tell your mother-in-law so you can be harassed about them until you complete them. (Hey, whatever works for you.) But the important thing is to be specific. Use concrete numbers, not generalities, and set realistic deadlines.
In order for me to set my 2013 goals and targets, I thought back over 2012. And I realized, I had an emotional year. I laughed a lot, and I cried a lot. I cried when my niece left for boot camp, I cried when my son “graduated” middle school and cried again when his football team went undefeated this year. I cried when there were births and deaths, I cried at natural disasters and violent tragedies. I cried at Mass when I heard hymns that reminded me of my grandfather and I cried when I heard songs on the radio that reminded me how precious and short life is. I cried during movies, TV shows and reading. And, despite my kids’ utter humiliation, I even cried during certain commercials on television. I’m a softie.
But I also laughed a lot. I laughed when my husband and kids told jokes. I laughed when my dogs jumped up and licked my face. I laughed when family visited from out of state. It filled me with joy just seeing them walk in the door. I laughed (and maybe cried a little) when my daughter won her first tennis match. I laughed when I learned for the first time I was getting a story published. I laughed with my friends at writing group and at writing conferences. I laughed at myself when I did and said stupid things (more times than I care to count). I laughed when my computer posted an, “It’s dead, Jim,” message on my screen (otherwise I would have cried). I laughed when my daughter and I foolishly thought we could do the P90X system. That lasted four days. (And then I almost cried when I could barely walk.) I laughed when the Steelers hired Todd Haley as the OC. (Look where that got us.) I laughed at Christmas when my kids opened their gifts—their faces were priceless.
Yes, it was an emotional year. I wish I could erase the horrors, but we learn and grow from them, and they make us appreciate our joys and successes all the more. As I evaluate 2012, I know what I want from 2013. I hope you take the time to do an honest assessment of your last year and create a goal and target list for 2013. If you want, post it here. I’m not your mother-in-law, but I’d be happy to keep after you about your progress!