One Resolution and the $10 Deal

I saw this article today about making only one New Year resolution. Poppycock! was my first response. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Last year my plan was to adjust my expectations, celebrate my accomplishments, and have short-term goals in mind but to not write them. I don’t know if that worked, but I was able to form a couple of good habits mostly because of the $10 deal I had with my boyfriend, MB:

  • If I didn’t work on my novel at least five days a week, I had to give him $10. But if I finished my novel before reaching $100, I could have all the money back.
  • If I didn’t go to krav maga at least twice a week, I had to give him $10.

I’m a cheapskate so I hated handing over the money. Still, my debt racked up to $70. Then on Christmas Day I finished the first draft of my book and I got all the money back. As for krav maga, I ended up getting my yellow belt in September.

I’m going to continue these two $10 deals – work on personal writing at least five days a week and go to krav maga at least twice a week – perhaps with the added goal that one of those two krav maga times, I have to go to a level 2 class. I’ve been awful about going to level 2. It’s much more fun and comfortable to stay in level 1.

My other short-term goals are to work out at least four times a week and to read one book a month or so. These have also become a habit for the most part so I’m not too worried about those.

So what do I want my one resolution to be? I thought it might be to submit my writing more often. Back in 2011, I tried to do a 12 months, 60 rejections project and failed. Sixty submissions in a year is too much for a slow writer like me. I thought maybe 12 would be more doable, one a month, and even came up with a plan and submitted one piece just now,

But then I started to execute on my plan – check listings for magazines and upcoming contest deadlines – but immediately became overwhelmed. There are just so many contests and magazines, and I don’t have too many things to submit.

What I need is to write some short pieces during this break I’m taking from my novel (at least one month, maybe two), and to get the momentum going to be able to work on short pieces and revise my novel at the same time. So working on short pieces is built into the whole “work on personal stuff five days a week” or pay up.

So if not submitting more, how about meditating? It’s something I’d like to do more consistently. I get pretty anxious about stuff (often made-up stuff) and want to be able to handle my anxiety better. I meditate when I do yoga at home and in yoga class, and sometimes on the train to work if I remember. But usually I completely forget. For instance, I haven’t meditated at all during this holiday break.

The article goes on to suggest three more steps after picking your one resolution:

  • Come up with a specific action plan.
  • Avoid previous resolutions.
  • Tailor your action plan to your personality.

What works for me is when something becomes not just a habit but something I feel I need. If I go more than two days without working out, I just feel blah. The $10 helped motivate to keep working on my novel and krav maga-ing, but I also grew to love getting in a little personal writing after dinner instead of just watching four hours of TV. I grew to like practicing punching and kicking, as well as socializing with my classmates.

But first meditation needs to become a habit. I’ve looked online and all the articles say the same thing: start off with just a few minutes, pick a trigger, reward yourself, blah blah. But I always manage to find an excuse: I have work to do, MB is around, MB might come home any minute (he’s all for my meditating, but I’d rather be alone). The only thing that seems to work for me is the $10 deal. Would it be somehow anti-meditative to have to pay $10 for every day that I don’t meditate?

Well, the article does say to tailor my plan to my personality, and apparently my personality is “cheapskate.”

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