Archives for January 2016

On Setting New Year’s Resolutions

Ah, January. The time for New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t actually do resolutions, but I am a habitual goal setter.

Recently as I was cleaning out old papers and files, I found goals I’d written going back to 2011.

I’m sorry to say that many of them are still unfulfilled, all these years later.

Yes, some of the very same goals that have been on my list each year for the last five are still there, wondering when they will get the honor of being crossed off, silently mocking my inability to achieve them.

After the goal review, I had a bout of self-loathing so profound I was inconsolable for the rest of the day, unable to do anything but lounge around in my pajamas and eat Ben & Jerry’s straight out of the carton while watching re-runs of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Then, as I was driving over to a New Year’s Eve party a few days later, I got to thinking about this. I thought, hmm, if I want that satisfying feeling that comes from getting to the end of the week, month, quarter and year with a whole slew of targets hit and objectives achieved, I should set goals I know I will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, achieve.

So I came up with a list of such goals. To wit:

:: I will NOT begin a regular yoga practice.

:: I will NOT lose 10 pounds.

:: I will NOT attend a writing retreat this year.

Etc.

Then I remembered a piece I once read by my favorite writer, Nora Ephron, in which she talks about not achieving her New Year’s resolutions the previous year. She figures she’s aiming too low, so she decides to set goals that are “completely out of reach.”

After all, she figures, she has as much chance of achieving the out of reach goals as she does the more “realistic” resolutions. Thus her resolutions for 2008 include things like “End the war in Iraq,” “Make sure a Democrat is elected president,” and “Start a universal health care program.” 

Brilliant, I thought, that’s exactly what I’ll do!

So I took a page out of Nora’s playbook, and came up with my own big, lofty, unattainable, yet highly desirable, goals.

My Top Five “Completely Out of Reach” Goals for 2016:

:: Get Donald Trump to apologize for all the heinous things he’s said and people he’s egregiously and wrongly insulted this year: immigrants, women, Mexicans, disabled people, journalists, Muslims, and on and on and on, AND ON, because the list is long. So.Very.Long.

:: Solve the refugee crisis. I know this is a complex problem and finding a solution won’t be easy. But if the world’s wealthiest nations come together, I think we can get it done. After all, it’s a massive humanitarian crisis that impacts the entire globe, not just our little neck of the woods, where narrow-minded fear-mongering has caused people to lose their damn minds. Amnesty International has some good ideas for how world leaders can work together to solve the crisis.

:: Stop deportation raids against women and children from Central America. Central American immigrants, many of them children, are fleeing extreme violence and poverty, and they should be treated like asylum-seekers and allowed to stay in the U.S. This isn’t about politics, it’s about treating people with basic human decency, rather than resorting to inhumane fear tactics like storming into people’s homes in wee hours to round them up and deport them.

Again, this is another complex problem. But there will always be people who attempt to escape terrible conditions in their home countries and find a better life for themselves and their families in the U.S., even if it means risking their lives to get here. And no wall, and no draconian, inhumane border patrol “tactics” will ever completely put an end to it, as long as there is poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity to escape from.

:: And, as with Nora’s 2008 resolutions, I want to get a Democrat elected this year. I’m pretty sure this will be a slam-dunk, but you never really know, do you? I mean, just a couple of months ago I was saying there was no way on Earth Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee, and now he just might be, the way things are going. But I must admit, as much as it scares me for our country that any of the Republican choices still in the race could be the nominee, or even more terrifying, end up President, it sure has been an entertaining comedy freak-show on the Republican side, hasn’t it? Ah, silver linings.

:: And as a Southerner, I must confess, I’ve always wanted to learn to make the perfect biscuit. I’m a pretty decent cook, but I’ve never mastered baking. In fact, every time I’ve tried to bake, it’s been mostly disastrous. As a Southerner, what does it mean that I can’t make a proper biscuit? It’s positively shameful. It will not do. So if anyone has a newbie-friendly biscuit recipe, send it my way.

Happy New Year!

My Three Words for 2016

Ever since I read about Chris Brogan’s “3 Words” approach to yearly planning a few years back, I’ve used the practice to help ground and guide me through the year. 

The goal, as Chris says, is “replace resolutions with something a bit more useful.”

I love the idea of choosing just three words to filter the choices I’ll make over the coming year. The simplicity of it all. The ease and grace of applying 3 simple words to all you want to be, do and have, how you want to approach life, well, it feels . . . light and easy.  

And this year I’m all about light and easy. 

I still want to get things done, mind you, and a whole lot of ‘em, but I want to do it this year without my heretofore customary emoting and (over)dramatizing. The goal is a lot less weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a lot more calm, cool, “it’s all good” vibafication.  

Now, I often fall off the “3 Words” wagon at some point during the year, tumbling into a pit of distraction, but how easy is it to simply remind myself what my three words are and get right back on track? 

Pretty easy, I tell you. That’s because I have my three words written in large black letters at the top of my big ass wall calendar, the one that hangs just above my computer screen and stares me in the face for 10+ hours a day. 

Now that we’ve gotten the preamble out of the way, here are my three words for 2016: 

:: ONE: Work on one thing at a time – from big projects to small to-do list items and everything in between, one, one, one, is the name of the game.  

:: COMPLETION: Complete big projects, and smaller action items too, before moving on to the next thing on the list. If I had a nickel for every uncompleted project sitting on my hard drive right now . . . sheesh!  

:: ENOUGH: Let what I do each day, each week, each month, and each quarter, be enough. No more beating myself up with a metaphorical Cat-o’-Nine-Tails for what I didn’t get around to doing. I’m weary of never measuring up to my boss’s (ahem, my) unrealistic expectations, and it’s stealing my joy. 

So here’s to a 2016 full of completed projects, knocking out the most important things on my to-do list, celebrating everything I get done, and being A-OK with everything I don’t!