“It has seemed to me that each year one should pause to take stock of himself, to ask: Where am I going? What am I becoming? What do I wish to do and become?” -Louis L’Amour
All too often I’ve moved without a goal and no set destination in mind. But as humans, we have the amazing capacity to overhear, to listen and watch ourselves, and say “I have no wish to become the man I’m becoming, I wish to become that man instead” and to change.
That’s what New Year Resolutions are all about. Looking back at 2012 and seeing who we are, and where are our actions are taking us if we continue them in 2013. And if we dislike what we are, or find our priorities have changed, or our circumstances demand a different solution, we take steps to become a different person.
It’s not a cliche. Or rather, it’s something so important yet so under-rated that it’s become the stuff of cliche, much as most of Hamlet is cliche but Shakespeare still wrote it first, and it’s still just as powerful.
As I look back on the last year, and look ahead into the next, several desires crystallize in my mind. There’s quite a few things I could undertake this upcoming year (learn a new language, take up martial arts, learn to play the guitar) and quite a few different versions of a future me I could try to mold myself into.
But as Plato said long ago, The emotions are the guardians of reason. When what my head tells me I should do and my heart tells me I want to do coincide, the probability of me succeeding is increased dramatically and most likely that’s where I need to concentrate my strongest efforts.
My head and heart join strongest in these three areas:
1.) Be writing full-time by 2014.
I’m a part time commercial freelance writer, meaning I write for business’s and organizations that need brochures, marketing material, newsletters and much, much more. Right now, I use it to help pay the rent, and buy some bags of groceries. But as I look at the business I’ve done, and the potential for growth I have, I’m ready to start making the push to full-time writing. I’ll have more on how I plan to go full-time, along with just what exactly commercial (business) writing is, how it’s done, and more, in an upcoming post.
As many writer’s before me have observed, writing is mostly stationary and sedentary. Make no mistake – I’m 6’4 and am a lean (very lean) 150. Weight is not my problem. But as one of my favorite authors said, If you want to be skinny, do skinny people stuff. If you want to be rich, do rich people stuff. And I add to that list, If you want to be a full time writer, do full time writing stuff.
And one thing that keeps popping up every time I talk to a writer, e-mail a writer, or read a book on freelance writing is the absolute importance of exercise. It sharpens and prepares your mind for the day, keeps your body/mind connection strong and healthy, and lets you increase your workload while decreasing stress.
I’m not planning on going crazy. I ran cross-country in high school. I’ve felt the pain intense physical activity can inflict on your body and I have no desire to revisit that. But I do plan on running for 15-20 minutes, then spending 10-15 minutes working a punching bag, every day. Short, intense, easy.
3.) No Television.
Why? you ask.
Bluntly, because I can feel myself becoming addicted. I don’t believe there’s anything morally or aesthetically wrong with television and movies, but I do believe they’re a passive art for the receiver. I spent much less imagination when I watched an episode of Dr. Who than when I read A Christmas Carol out loud with my soon-to-be-fiance.
And it’s getting to the point where I can’t relax without watching a television show or a movie. Or at least, watching a show is becoming my default setting. So before I become hooked for good, I want to take an active step to fight what is rapidly becoming an addiction. Instead, I’m going to finish the general survey I’m making of English Literature, including all the big ones like Chaucer, Shelley, and Blake.
So is it a cliche to post about my New Year’s Resolutions? Maybe. But I also think it’s important to look at where you’re going and evaluate it. You don’t have to stick to one destination you’re whole life. A ship sails first by one wind, then by another to first one port, then the next. The important thing is to always be going somewhere.
And are these all my goals? Of course not. I plan on proposing to the amazing, absolutely incredible woman in my life. I plan on learning Old English in one massive push. I plan on writing several short stories this year.
But the major three in bold I listed above are the ones I want to share with you more in detail so that we can grow as writers together. If you’ll notice, the three are all structured around writing. And that’s what this blog is about. I’m going to go more in depth about each of the three in upcoming posts, but if you have any resolutions of your own, any thoughts on how to structure your life so that you get the most out of it, go ahead and leave a comment! I’d love to hear any ideas you have!