I’ve heard this phrase used a lot recently (including by my friend, Carie), and I like it. I tend to procrastinate without the structure of goals to keep me on track. But when I make resolutions, it feels like too much pressure; the potential of failure is inherent in resolutions but not intentions. So, in reviewing 2015, these were some of my intentions that I wrote down in my planner, divided into different areas of my life:
- Finish Mad Dance on Roseridge by January 31st [this was my NaNoWriMo WIP from 2014 and I was still working on getting it done. You can see my NaNo page details and the temporary cover I made for it here]
- Finish The Prey and the Predator rewrite by February 28th [this is another WIP]
- 20 submissions
- get 3rd poem published
- publish an essay/article
- publish a short story
- Read 30 books
- Be more confident
- Be more assertive
- Be more…
My personal goals were inspired by my new position as an assistant manager. But I knew I also needed to establish confidence and assertiveness, period. I feel like I have made progress there. Note that it’s an achievable, reasonable goal. Same with my writing goal to submit 20 times. I didn’t write “Publish 20 pieces”.
It’s more important that you focus your efforts on what you’re putting into your goals rather than the outcome you cannot control.
For instance, losing weight is at the top of many new year’s resolutions lists. People say they will lose a specific amount of weight in the new year, but when they don’t see the scale drop, they feel like they’ve failed. Therefore, establishing intentions for the new year to put you in the path of that goal to lose weight is the idea here. For example, with regards to this oft-used resolution, make your intentions to have one less soda each day, replace two carb-loaded treats with fresh fruits or veggies, take a walk once a week—whatever. Start small, and if you surpass that goal, craft a new one. Or don’t. You can pat yourself on the back because you already went for something you set out to do.
My reading of 30 books only ended up being 26. And not to pick bones here, but one of the books I read was a tome (The Passage) and, hello, I had twins. I gotta give myself some leeway for that. But in light of this, for 2016, I’ve decided to only challenge myself to 25. To see what books I read last year and my challenge this year, visit my goodreads here.
My favorites of 2015 were:
Regarding my writing intentions, I never did finish my rewrite for The Prey and the Predator, and that’s okay. I feel less guilty about the things I didn’t complete than if I had resolved to get them done. Not to sound like a self-help guru, but life is full of changes, surprises, and unexpected adventures. You need to give yourself a break if you don’t hit every goal on the spreadsheet. In fact, a spreadsheet might be a little too intimidating. Try something you enjoy looking at, like that cool journal you just had to have from the bookstore, or in a memo on your phone, or on a colorful poster. Also, try a joy jar to celebrate your accomplishments each year for encouragement before setting out to devise your new intentions.
Though I didn’t finish Mad Dance by January 31st, I did finish the first draft eventually–April, to be exact. I also had a total of 27 submissions, out of which came two published short stories and I received word that my 3rd published poem will appear in February. So I kind of accomplished that intention. Though I didn’t get an essay or article published (albeit I didn’t submit any), I did surpass my submission goal. I wholeheartedly believe the three acceptances I did get are due to my diligence in submitting just as much as the quality of my work. This is an example of setting out the do something you have control over in the new year: I put myself out there more to increase my chances of getting my work into the hands of the people who like it.
Other things to celebrate:
- Attending the World Horror Convention that allowed me to meet two awesome writer friends (Carie and Annie) that had heretofore only been virtual friends and resulted in two successful pitches of two different novels. This was also my first time on a plane (and while pregnant), first time traveling alone—let alone across the country—and first time going to a conference and pitching to agents/editors!
- Starting my new WIP, Wrathmoor, in December after being on a fiction writing hiatus—aside from revisions—since finishing my NaNoWriMo project in April.
- And finally, the natural birth of my healthy twin girls and our trying but wonderful experiences with breastfeeding. (All of my links to past posts has made me realize that I may share far too much of my personal life on my blog 😉 )
I won’t say what my new intentions are this year—some sort of bad luck in that, isn’t there?—but I will say they’ll be something similar to these. Because I think last year turned out pretty darn good. I set myself reasonable goals, and while I didn’t accomplish all of them, I put forth the effort to achieve them, and that’s something to be proud of.
So Happy 2016, Everyone! I wish you the tools, time, and diligence to strive toward whatever your New Year’s intentions may be!