As the days of December wane, an eager new year waits to embrace us. Have you made resolutions for 2016 yet?
To be perfectly honest with you, 2015 was a bust for me. The two main entries on my list of resolutions for the year were the only things I didn’t do: finish my sequel and exercise regularly. Sounds easy enough to accomplish, right? Wrong! And the irony is that they’re both activities I love. So, what did I do?
- I put my writer’s retreat in San Antonio up for sale, packed myself, and moved back to Kentucky to be closer to family.
- I went on several vacations and entertained guests in San Antonio.
- I spent countless hours—to the detriment of my writing process— on book business, all the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of publishing and promoting a book.
That’s about it. Those three things consumed 2015! And here I sit at the end of the year with enormous guilt for lack of productivity in both my resolutions. Did I mention that every moment I spend not writing, I feel guilty? Yeah, I’m one of those authors. But I blame no one but myself. I’m the type of writer who needs everything else to be settled before I sit down and become incarcerated in my story. There was so much extraneous activity on my agenda this past year that concentration was out of the question. But I resolve to change my mindset in 2016!
Before I declare my resolutions for the upcoming year, I want to talk about the psychological importance of making resolutions and why we fail to keep them. Resolutions, which we typically make at the end of a calendar year, make us reflect on our lives, take stock of where we’ve been, and aim for where we want to go. They focus us on what is important to accomplish in the foreseeable future—and, possibly, on what we need to leave behind with the passing year. It’s always great to have a plan, right?
So, why are we rarely able to keep our resolutions past the middle of January? Bottom line: When we focus on extraneous events other than our objectives, we’re hiding from something.
For writers, it generally takes the form of procrastination in starting that new book—or hiding from the emotional drain required to write great prose or poetry. Or we could be hiding from the overwhelming task of querying countless agents and publishers. Since we don’t have a boss hanging over our shoulder (although some writers have an editor biting at their heels), it’s easier and more fun to fritter away our time on social media, blogs, books, or anything other than our writing. Guilty as charged!
Exercise is the same for me. It’s enjoyable alone-time where I can listen to music, think about my current manuscript, and tone my body and mind. But if anything else comes up, exercise is the first to go.
And every other resolution “should” is just the same. So, what can we do to stick with our resolve? Well, your friendly refugee from Over-Thinkers Anonymous has some ideas, of course.
- Keep regular hours. Regardless of your occupation, find a block of time to practice your resolutions and stick to it! For writers, we need to go to our writing spot, sit our butts down in a chair, and write. That means NO Facebook or social media, NO phone calls (except emergencies), and NO interruptions by family members or friends. Be protective of this designated time! Other people need to respect your personal priorities.
- Your resolution HAS to become a habit. That means you must make it a priority in your life. It has to come first, and you must become invested in it. Perhaps, you can create little rituals around it to make it more fun. For instance, with exercise, you could use a step counter and calculate your steps or activity per day. Or you could share your progress with friends. Writers often give themselves arbitrary word or page counts to achieve. These little activities keep us interested and make us feel successful. And nothing spurs one on like accomplishment!
- Remember to be grateful. Gratitude works miracles. I’ve practiced it for years now, and it never fails to bolster my spirits. It makes me take stock and realize how lucky I really am in life. It also feeds on itself. A positive mindset brings positive circumstances.
- Meditate. Time seems to fly these days, doesn’t it? In this high-pressure tech world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fall into bad habits. Meditation slows us down and centers us. It only takes a few minutes, but it makes a world of difference in our mental wellbeing. I now practice it before bed every night, and it has cured my insomnia. In combination, gratitude and meditation keep us grounded and moving forward with our plans for the year.
What’s on my list of resolutions for 2016? I plan to KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!) this year. This means that I need to say no to extraneous events a little more often, and discard things that don’t serve my resolutions. So, here’s my shortlist for 2016:
- Finish my sequel manuscript and have it edited by the end of 2016.
- Exercise every other day—regardless of what my schedule looks like.
- Stay present and remember to meditate each day.
- Travel to Europe. I have a few other little trips already planned, but a trip to Great Britain will be the crown on my year!
And that’s my KISS list! What are your 2016 resolutions? I’d love to hear them! Share your opinions and anecdotes in the section below, and, just to prove how much I adore my readers, I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (with matching bookmark) to a randomly drawn commenter. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, I’d appreciate a “share” on your social media pages. Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading and see you in 2016, tribe.