New Year’s Day: Even if you don’t make resolutions, which I don’t, there’s a feeling of freshness and excitement about starting a new year that makes us want to be better people. I like having New Year’s Day as a holiday. It’s a good day to prioritize and set up a pattern for the coming year.
Priorities: Recently I read a post by my favorite psychologist, Benjamin Hardy (if you don’t know who he is, look him up). He wrote about the concept of prioritizing. I’m paraphrasing him when I share: “If you have more than three priorities, you’re not really prioritizing.” That keeps it simple, doesn’t it? For me, priorities really have to do with lifestyle. My three priorities for this year are the same as they were for last year: I write every morning. I walk or do Pilates every afternoon. And I prepare one great, healthy meal a day for my husband and I. That’s it and it won’t trip me up by being out of reach.
Goals and the Magic of Consistency: Goals are a different animal. They’re like New Year’s resolutions in that they can become unmanageable. If they get too big, too many, too fast, after a couple of days I can’t meet any of them, so I abandon them. I learned a long time ago that goals are best done in bite size chunks, because it’s easier to experience success with a small goal that takes just a day or a few weeks to accomplish.
For example, I work on a novel length manuscript every year, but I only set monthly goals for it. This January, one of my goals is to complete research and preparation on the next novel so that I can start writing prose in February. The goal of pounding out a novel in a month or writing an article every day aren’t in my program, because too often I’ve experienced failure with goals like that. The consistency of one step at a time, one page, one good article will get me to where I’m going. When I attain priorities and meet little goals, it builds confidence, and confidence has far-reaching, positive effects on everything.
Dreams: I like to dream big. I dream about publishing houses that want my work and an agent who gets me and wants to help me. I dream about having all the energy I need to complete novels and articles for the time ahead. I dream about writing for Texas Monthly. I dream about long and healthy years with my husband. And I dream about the success of my 2020 release of A Delightful Little Book On Aging. Dreams are not goals, but surrender to their largesse and vision is crucial to prioritizing and setting attainable milestones.
Balance: I’m at a time of life where I want to focus less on accomplishment and more on the gratitude of experience, but that doesn’t mean that accomplishment isn’t important to me. In addition to priorities, goals and dreams, I take note of what feels nourishing and creates balance in my life.
As a writer, I spend a lot of time in my head. So balance means being in life. Again, it’s real simple: I take walks with my husband. We enjoy sitting on the front porch with our dog and watching our neighborhood. Side by side, with our hands wrapped around cups of tea, we take in our world. Just being in the experience of sunshine or gray, kids who are throwing a ball and laughing in the cul-de-sac, making note of who is pruning roses or cleaning a garage. . . I relish “being” in this world, on this little block, in this community, watching life happen. This is my balance and it fills me with appreciation.
I always start the New Year by affirming that this is going to be a great year. This is going to be a healing year. In spite of the infection that nibbles away at Washington and the world, there are good things happening too. I can’t forget that. None of us should. There are things and people to get enthusiastic about. Humanity has not lost its way. I know, because I’ve seen the best of humanity from my front porch.
I’m excited about living another year. I’m excited about being in life. I’m grateful. I’m excited about witnessing the neighborhood kids grow another inch. And I’m excited about priorities and goals that I’ve set forth, balanced by a nourished and loving heart. Life is good.
May 2019 be a great year for us all. HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!