Last week my yoga class was extra crowded with newbies. I’ve nothing against yoga newbies – I was one not too long ago (and still feel like one most of time) – but I know that by the end of January, most of them will have dropped out. The same thing would happen at my company gym: in January it would be crowded with poseurs, and by Valentine’s Day, it would be back to us regulars plus maybe 5% of poseurs.
I stopped making New Year resolutions a while ago. Why wait till January to start something new? Also, resolutions tend to be vague. “This year I’ll be thin! I’ll be more productive! I’ll stop worrying!” Vagueness, for me at least, is a guarantee of failure.
I’ve tried New Year goals, but that hasn’t worked for me. Last year I kept them up for a while then fell off the wagon. I hated not meeting my goals from week to week, so much so that I just gave up entirely.
So what’s a girl to do? This:
- Adjust my expectations.
- Set short-term goals – but don’t write them down.
- Remember my accomplishments.
And here’s how I’m applying them.
I used to do hard cardio five times a week, which was easy with a company gym and Central Park just a few blocks away. I’d run at least four miles, and as much as six. Once a week I’d run between eight and 10 miles.
For a while I beat myself up for doing cardio “only” three times a week, for running “only” three or four miles, or “only” walking. But now I’ve accepted that’s okay, and remind myself that running three miles or walking one or two is better than nothing.
Goals & Accomplishments
You’d think writing down my goals for the week (cardio three times, yoga/weights twice, etc.) would be a good idea. NOT. Like I said, most weeks I wouldn’t meet my goals, and hated that so much, I stopped trying all together.
Now I tell myself my goals but don’t write them. For instance, my goal for October was to start walking to and from the train station on the days I worked, about two miles each way, three times a week. It was very easy to meet this goal because I enjoy walking, it took the same and even less amount of time as the bus, it’s much more relaxing than the bus, and the weather is good out here. Now the walk is not only a habit, but something I look forward to every day.
My goal for the month of December was to go to yoga class twice a week, every week (a class pushes me much harder than I push myself) and to do hard cardio (running or the elliptical) three times a week, every week. I didn’t write these goals in a spreadsheet. I mentioned them in my blog, but otherwise just held the goals in my mind.
And guess what, I made my goal! There was one day I missed yoga class because I had to go into the office (boo!) but at least I did an hour of yoga at home.
What’s also helped is tracking my progress after the fact. I love filling my spreadsheet with what I’ve accomplished, which encourages me to do something, no matter how small, every day.
My January goal is to continue what I’ve been doing, and also to do burpees/weights/yoga at least once a week. Right now I did that sometimes, but not consistently.
I continue to struggle to have no expectations about my writing. I try to concentrate on the task at hand, and not worry about being successful (whatever that means) or comparing myself to other writers. Staying busy helps.
These past few months I’ve felt blah about my writing. I haven’t published much outside of work, and have totally neglected The Nervous Breakdown, where I’m supposed to post once a month. Then I looked back at what I’d done over the year, and now feel re-energized and re-inspired. Here’s a totally self-indulgent recap of my writing accomplishments from over the year:
I wrote about my war with rats. Some Frisky readers gave me some love.
I wrote about what I think about when I should be thinking about nothing while doing yoga.
At The Nervous Breakdown, I was the featured author and also wrote about childhood and death. For The Frisky, I wrote about why I stand by Planned Parenthood. I kicked off the publicity campaign for my memoir by asking you guys to help me pick a cover and held a contest giving away copy of my book.
For Dark Sky Magazine, I wrote about vampires, tattoos, and divorce. I continued to market my memoir by giving all contest participants a free copy. I got some awesome new author photos. For The Frisky, I wrote that I’m really bad at being wrong, and for The Nervous Breakdown, about caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease.
I updated my website and published my memoir, woot! I wrote about the curse of the imperial roll. These cute little dictionaries I edited last year were published.
I started tweeting a lot for work, beginning with a live tweet of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. My piece that won Bellingham Review‘s 2010 nonfiction contest was published, and the contest judge wrote something very nice about it. I received my first real review (thanks Ed Lin and Giant Robot!). For the anthology Wisdom Has a Voice, I wrote about my dear grandmother. For The Nervous Breakdown, I wrote about things I’ve found on the sidewalk.
I got some more Nervous Breakdown love. For the Frisky, I wrote that I’m neither a trophy nor a tiger. I started blogging a lot for work.
I kicked off my 12 months, 60 Rejections project (I’ve made 16 submissions and have had three rejections and one acceptance so far). At The Frisky, I wrote that I’m divorced, get over it. I won first place in Hyperink’s My Tiger Mom and Me contest, and was published in their anthology.
I wrote a shit ton for work, including words about work, words in fashion, pirate words, punctuation rules, and drinks: wine, tea, funny drink names, coffee, and beer.
For work, I wrote all about Halloween as well as Hangul Day, and started writing a bi-weekly series called Word Soup, in which I round up funny and interesting words from TV (and you know I watch a lot of TV!). I got invited to speak at the BlogHer Writers’ Conference and had a great time. I finished reading John Truby’s Anatomy of a Story, went through all the exercises, and planned my novel. I finished compiling and editing a book of essays to enter in a few contests (the essays are a mixture of stuff I’ve published and a couple of newish ones).
For work, I wrote about Saintly Words for All Saints’ Day; Words on Plot and Treason for Guy Fawkes’ Day; Palindromes and Other Word Play for 11/11/11; and turkey words for Thanksgiving. I decided to do NaNoWriMo differently this year, and while I didn’t complete it, I continued to work on my novel.
I continued to work on my novel, and submitted a story pitch, my first in months – yay!
My goals for writing are even shorter-term than for fitness. In general I want to work on my own writing every day, even if for a little bit, whether it’s my novel, my blog, a pitch, or a shorter piece. For a couple of months (which felt like several), I really neglected my own writing. What’s helping so far is writing before I turn on my computer. With my novel (for which I spent September and October planning out the characters and all the scenes), I’ve been handwriting a few scenes, then typing them up. When I type, I also edit and add.
My goals for my novel are day by day. For instance, today I want to hand write a few scenes. I usually need a little breather after I write a few scenes, to sort of let them clear from my head so that when I type them, I can see them with a fresh eye, so then I’ll work on something else the next day, either my blog or a pitch. This week I went to turn in another story pitch.
I don’t really have a drop dead date for when the novel should be done. Right now I’m just going day by day.
Other goals I’m keeping in the back of my mind are to catch up on my reading in The Nervous Breakdown, and to write an essay for January.
So no resolutions for me. No “From now on, I’m going to be X.” All I can ask of myself is to continue these small goals, which if you think about it, add up to bigger ones anyway.