I’m not much for making New Year resolutions. Stuff like “lose weight” or “be more adventurous” is too general and easy to give up. I used to make year-long goals, but I decided those were too “big” as well. Inspired by my pal Simon Smithson over at The Nervous Breakdown, I’ve instead decided to tackle goals over two-month increments. From those two months, I break the goals down into weeks.
I like this approach because it breaks goals into much smaller, more concrete and specific tasks (“get published more” becomes “enter at least two contests, submit at least one piece, post at least twice to The Nervous Breakdown,” while “get in shape” becomes “work out at least three times a week”). But not too specific. I don’t write down tasks day by day – too many details and too much pressure.
Here’s a slightly abbreviated version of this week’s tasks (my week starts on a Sunday):
Week of January 2, 2011
Blog post 1 (you’re reading it!)
Blog post 2
BONUS: blog post 3
Workout 1 (Ran 4 miles)
BONUS: workout 4
Turn in piece for contest due this week
Finish up draft of short story
Think of idea for contest due at end of month and start draft
It doesn’t matter when I do these things, as long as I do them this week. And I give myself a little pat on the back when I do more than the minimum. This also helps keep straight all the upcoming contest and submission deadlines. Sometimes I get caught up in what I’m doing at present, and don’t look ahead to see what deadlines are coming up till the day before. Planning for two months helps me keep looking ahead – but not too ahead. It also remind me to keep submitting to publications.
HOWEVER, there are a few broader changes I want to make. I don’t really want to call them resolutions, which implies, “From now on, I’ll do this thing and will be forever perfect.” Maybe New Year tweaks is better.
Stop arguing with myself. At my old job, every day I would wonder aloud if I should go to the gym. Finally, one of my co-workers said, “You spend more time arguing with yourself about whether or not to go to the gym, than actually going to the gym.” After that I said, Fuck it, I’m just always going to the gym.
Chocolate cake or not? Sandwich now for a second breakfast or for lunch, as planned? Get up now or in 20 minutes? And most of all, gym or not? Time to stop hemming and hawing over simple decisions and make the healthier/cheaper/more efficient choice.
Don’t put off till tomorrow what I can do today. Last week I had the whole week off. Lots of opportunities to work out right? Yes! Did I take them? No.
Don’t get me wrong. I made my goals. I hit the gym Monday and Tuesday. But I skipped Wednesday because I thought, I’ll work out Thursday and Friday. I went Thursday, but skipped Friday, thinking, I can go on Saturday. Guess what? I skipped Saturday. If I had just gone on Wednesday, I wouldn’t have felt all blah and guilty by Saturday.
If there’s something I can do TODAY – go to the gym, run an errand, work on some piece of writing – don’t “plan” to do it later because later something might come up, which I could use as an excuse not to do it.
Stop worrying. This will be the toughest one. Basically, I need to:
- discern “real” worries from fake ones (real worry: untangling my health insurance; fake: wondering if MB will unexpectedly leave me for someone else)
- if it’s fake, remind myself the worry is all in my head and remind myself of something I know (eg, MB’s obvious love, affection, and devotion to me)
- if it’s a real worry, decide if I can do anything about the worry now
- if I can’t, make a plan (see bi-monthy goals)
- remind myself that worrying does nothing to change anything, that my situation didn’t change from the moment before I started worrying to the moment after – except that I started worrying
It seems to be working, at least so far.