Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Whether it’s morning, noon, or night where you are in the world, I’m pretty sure that by this point we have all welcomed 2018 to our respective geographical locations around the globe. And as always, somehow the arbitrary and manmade construct of a “new year” brings about a time of reflection and self-evaluation. I don’t understand why or how the tradition of resolutions came about, but it’s one that, year after year, I hesitantly participate in nonetheless.

Today, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on making resolutions and share some of my own goals for the coming year.

 

It’s easy to make a resolution, and just as easy to break it.

Why do I say that I participate in the tradition of resolutions “hesitantly”? Well, it has always seemed to me that making a New Year’s resolution is just an elaborate way of setting yourself up for failure, disappointment, and frustration in the future. It’s easy to make a promise to yourself, and even easier to break it. And isn’t a resolution just a promise prompted by the turning of the pages in a calendar?

Think of your resolution’s full consequences.

It is easy to make resolutions without thinking of their full consequences. Think of the common example, “I resolve not to eat desserts this year.” Okay, the good intention is there, but in practice, how successful will you be? If your friends throw you a surprise birthday party, are you going to refuse a piece of your own birthday cake that your friends so lovingly prepared? And even if you do hold up to your word for ten months, what will you do once Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around again, and the aroma of those seasonal family favorites starts to seep into your senses? Perhaps a more realistic goal might be “I resolve to only eat desserts on special occasions.”

Frame your resolution as a goal to work toward.

Face it: you aren’t perfect. Nobody is; that’s part of being human. And there’s nothing more discouraging than trying to hold yourself to a resolution that you can’t keep. For example, you can only hold up to the resolution “I will work out five days a week” for so long before your body needs a break, or before you pull a muscle and physically cannot meet your goal. Instead, frame the resolution as a goal to work toward: “By the end of the year I will bench press four hundred”, or “By the end of the year I will have a five minute mile”.

(For the record, I do not intend to meet either of those goals.)

With your resolution framed as a goal, you have room to cut yourself a little slack. This way, if you need to take a sick day, you can. And then you can get back at it once you’ve rested up. Once you have a goal for the year, set practical milestones to achieve along the way, and celebrate in those achievements as you meet them.

Don’t make a promise. Set a goal.

By setting a goal rather than making a promise, you set yourself up for success. It still takes work and dedication, but you don’t have to hold yourself to standards that are impossible to attain. I have found that this is a much healthier approach to New Year’s resolutions.

And with that said, it’s time to share my own. I have some personal goals and some goals concerning my writing, and I want to take a minute and share them both.

 

Personal goal: Spiritual growth.

Over the past semester I made a habit of reading at least one chapter of the Bible every day. I am slowly working my way through the Bible cover-to-cover, currently in the book of Job. My spiritual goal for the year is to maintain this habit as well as the habit of praying daily, and to cultivate a stronger personal relationship with God.

How do I do this practically? First, I need to maintain the healthy habits that I have already set, and make sure that these habits are intentional rather than “checklist items”. Second, I should be open to God’s calling in my life, and be willing to follow his prompting even if it takes me out of my comfort zone. Intentional faith is a difficult discipline, but it is one that has proven immensely rewarding in my life and I seek to deepen this faith over the year.

Personal goal: Strengthen friendships.

Back in September, I discussed what I looked forward to the most about the coming school year. I mentioned that I was looking forward to getting to know the forty-one other students that would over the year become my family. Well, I have been immensely blessed with an amazing group of peers that truly do feel like family to me. I know many of them on a deep personal level, but there are a few that I haven’t gotten to know as well as I would like.

As such, my other personal goal is to make my time with these students intentional. I don’t know how many times I’ve been sitting in the kitchen with one or two other students, and rather than talking to each other or doing homework we’ve just been scrolling through social media on our phones. There is a time and a place for social media in moderation. And there’s a time for getting to know each other better. So my goal is to use my time this spring intentionally, and to strengthen my friendships with everyone in the program.

Literary goal: Finish my fifth novel before the end of the spring.

This one will probably prove the hardest. I am almost fifty thousand words into the third book of my trilogy that I have been writing since ninth grade.  An entire six years have passed, and I have yet to complete this saga. Why? Well, for one thing my life is busy. Managing college classes and traveling Europe on weekends has left me little time to write. I am taking fewer classes in the spring, though, so I hope that finding time to write will be easier in the coming months.

I have also been dragging my feet on this third book. Aside from two stand-alone books that I wrote during two years of NaNoWriMo, this trilogy has dominated most of my career as a writer. I know that there will be many more novels to write, and I know that my trilogy will still need lots of revision before it’s publication-ready. And yet, I feel like finishing the first draft of this book marks the end of a chapter in my life. Perhaps an unfounded sentiment, but it is a sentiment that nonetheless has made me take my sweet time with this book.

It’s time to get a move on. This story needs to be told, and many more after it, so it’s time for me to stop wasting time and crank out the end of the trilogy.

Literary goal: Submit poetry for external publication.

I have written some mock query letters before, but I’ve never actually tried to submit any of my work for external publication. I submitted a short story for publication in my university’s literary magazine, and it didn’t make the cut. I was not discouraged by this; I served on the magazine’s editing committee, which was a great learning experience, and I’ll probably submit another story this year. But at the same time, I’m ready to try to expand my horizons. I may not be successful for quite a while, but I have to start somewhere. One of my goals this year is to submit poetry to various publishers. Whether I get published or not, I can’t say, but my goal is not to be published, only to experience the process of submitting my work for review.

Literary goal: My sixth novel.

Maybe a little overambitious, but I aim to have six novels drafted by the end of the calendar year. If I finish my fifth novel by the end of the spring semester, that leaves me with eight months to crank out one more. Even if it’s only a NaNoWriMo novel, I aim to draft one more novel by the next first of January.

What about you?

There you have it. These are the goals I’m setting for myself over this coming year. Have you made resolutions or set goals for yourself this year? I’d love to hear about them. Comment below and let me know!