As you may have heard from the scores of media outlets reporting on the story, today is a very important day to many of the inhabitants of the western hemisphere, sure to accompanied by a celebration of epic proportions. Today is the day my blog turns 100 posts old.
Also, there’s something about a new year? I mean I guess if you’re hung up on that whole Gregorian Calendar thing it’s a big deal, but if you ask me, saying “Happy New Year” is prejudiced against cultures who don’t observe the passage of years in the same way we do. If you want to be politically correct you should really say “Happy Blogcentennial.” It’s a far more universal greeting.
But all kidding aside, I love New Year’s. It’s not so much a time of festivity for me, but I treasure the chance to take a look back on a span of time and measure what I’ve accomplished against what I want to accomplish in a future span of time. And while talking about New Year’s resolutions might not be the most original topic in the blogosphere today, it is one that is very near and dear to my heart.
For me the holiday is less about celebration, and more about introspection. What did I do wrong? What did I do right? What can I do better next year? The New Year’s Resolution is a cliché, but like most clichés it got that way for a reason. Because, if done right, the New Year’s Resolution can be a powerful and formative tool for you this year. If you want to succeed with your resolutions the following principles can help make your them as effective as you can.
1. Make your resolutions as concrete as possible.
This is important. I think a lot of people say, “I’m going to lose weight this year,” or “I’m going to exercise more,” but they don’t set a specific achievable goal for themselves. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m going to exercise more,” it would be better to say, “I am going to exercise a total of one hour per week.” That way you’ll know whether or not you’re accomplishing your goal.
2. Make sure your resolutions have some flexibility or room for forgiveness.
This is important because it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’re going to fail at one of your resolutions if you set the boundaries too rigidly. For instance, last year I made the resolution that I would read an average of one book every week. If instead, I had said I would read exactly one book every week by the time I got to The Terror, a 700 page colossus of a story, I might have been tempted to give up entirely. But because I set myself a more flexible goal I was able to take longer on some books, knowing I could catch up later with others.
3. Make some kind of notation of your progress.
This was a big one I discovered for myself last year, and I’m really looking forward to ramping it up to the next level this year. Again, I’ll use my reading resolution as an example. At the beginning of the year, I started making a list in a small notebook I have of every book that I read and the date of completion. As I went through the year, I realized how satisfying it was to go to my book and note the most recent completion. If you want to accomplish anything big you’re going to have to do it a little at a time. The end of your resolution may be 365 days away, and if you’re anything like me, it can be hard to stay motivated for that span of time. But if you keep a log of your progress, you can split one very large objective into a number of much smaller objectives. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
The following are my resolutions for 2011. I’m listing them here for two reasons. First, I’m an incurable egotist that loves to talk about himself. Second, by posting them here, I’m making myself accountable to someone other than myself. When I feel like giving up, I’ll be able to say to myself, “Yes, but what would all of those people who read your blog think?” and that might give me the motivation I need to keep going.
1. Write an average of one blog post every day.
I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting myself into with this one. I know that lately I’ve been really getting into writing this blog, to the point that nearly every morning I’ll wake up around 5:30 with an idea buzzing around in my head that I know would make a great post. However I don’t want to kill myself with this thing either, and not every post has to be a 1,000 word essay. It just has to be interesting.
2. Write an average of 1,000 words per day.
This one is a lot bigger. See, I usually write at least this much when I’m in the middle of writing a rough draft, but then I move on to the editing stage my word count falls off since I’m working with an already finished manuscript. I’ve got a whole lineup of stories I want to work on this year so I shouldn’t have any shortage of material, but keeping at it week after week and month after month will be a real test of endurance for me. Still, if I can do it, by this time next year I will have written over 365,000 words. I went by the store to pick up a wall calendar today, and I’ll be writing my total word count in the square for each day. In addition to that, I’m toying with tweeting my daily year-to-date word count as well, thus adding another layer of accountability for myself.
3. Finish editing/rewriting/polishing The Mulch Pile.
This is the big one for me. The Mulch Pile is my novel from NaNoWriMo year before last. It’s gone through a lot of editing, and rewrites, and I’ve gone so far as to post quite of bit of it on the internet as a serial, but there are things about the story that just keep nagging at me that need to be fixed. It’s so close to being right I can taste it, but if it’s going to be right, I want it to be really right. Because if all goes as planned I’ll be releasing the story as an eBook some time near the middle of the year. Stay tuned for that.
And that’s all for me. What about you? What do you hope to accomplish in 2011? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment, and let me know.