OK, so when most people talk about New Year’s resolutions they mean that they are going to sign up for an expensive gym membership or try some new diet. Usually, by the end of January, their plans have failed and their lives are just the same as they always were. In order to succeed you have to think about your resolutions in terms of goal setting.
Part of the problem is that people don’t really have a focus of where they want to be by the end of the year. They only have a vague idea of losing weight or stopping smoking, which they enter into blindly without any sort of plan.
What I’ve tried to do differently this year is to think about my life as a whole, where I am now, and where I’d like to be this time next year. It’s all about the bigger picture, rather than trying some sort of new fad for the month of January. Thinking about your goals overall gives you the motivation you need to see your resolutions through until next year.
Now the next step is very important, and this is what people tend to skip. Once you have decided what it is you want to change, then you can plan all the small steps it takes to get you there. After all, there is no quick fix for anything in life. If you want to lose weight then eating cabbage soup for a week won’t help. You have to implement a number of small but achievable changes, which you will stick to throughout the year. Looking at a huge task can seem overwhelming, so a lot of people give up before they have even started. But by breaking it down into smaller chunks, it’s a lot less scary, and a lot easier to achieve.
This goes for any type of goal you have, whether it’s losing weight, saving more money, changing careers, or whatever.
I have two goals for this year.
- Concentrate more on my creative writing
- Look after myself a bit better, both physically and mentally
With that in mind, here are my resolutions for 2016:
Join a new group
As a writer, one of the most valuable experiences is sharing your work in a writers’ group, and having feedback on your work. I’ve joined a few different groups off and on, but have never really stuck with it for any great length of time. So the plan for this year is to find a suitable group, with like-minded people, and make sure I go every week. Not only will it improve my writing, but it will help keep me sane as the nature of my work means I often go through the week without any human contact.
Finish my novel
I wrote a novel in June last year and haven’t done anything with it since. So unless I finish redrafting and editing it then the whole thing will just be a waste of time. Big tasks like this scare me and the hardest part of all is just starting something. Even if I just spend an hour a week on it, which doesn’t seem like much, it’s better than doing nothing at all.
Submit to magazines & enter contests
This is the first stage of my ambition of becoming a well-known writer. After all, who is going to read my work if it isn’t published anywhere? The more I can get my name out there at this early stage, then hopefully it will benefit my career in the long run. Think about your own career goals in the same way. Have a 5-year plan, and break it down into manageable stages in order to get there.
Schedule Time to Write
This seems like obvious, but up until now I’ve let my freelance work take over my timetable, so I barely have any time to sit down and write any poetry or fiction. This year I’m going to try and have some set time every week for creative writing, and stick to it, whether I have deadlines for other things or not.
Perform my work in public
Last year I spoke in public for the very first time, and the feeling of achievement was unbelievable. Especially to get such good feedback from the audience about my work. This year I hope to do more of the same, challenge myself and make lots of new friends along the way. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone, no matter how scary it seems. You may just surprise yourself by what you can achieve!
Mind and Body
Spot the signs of stress
Working as a freelancer is different from working in a 9-5 where you just walk out of the office at the end of the day, leaving all your worries behind you. With freelancing, there is added pressure to meet clients’ expectations and to keep deadlines, which means you often find yourself working into the night.
This year I plan to stick to my set working hours, and only work late in exceptional circumstances. I also plan to take some time away from the screen each day, either to practice yoga or to walk outside in the fresh air; both of which can reduce stress levels instantly. It’s important to have some me-time to help you relax.
Read More Books
This is a common resolution for a lot of people, as there is nothing quite like a good book to take your mind off things and let you escape to another world.
I go through phases of reading – sometimes I can get through two books in a week; other times I won’t even pick one up for a couple of months. As a writer, it’s important to read as much as possible, especially the type of stuff I hope to be able to write myself.
There really is no trick to this one – set some time aside each day, even just 20 minutes during your break, and just do it!
Drink Less Alcohol
This is a difficult one for me, as I am socially awkward and struggle to relax in a crowd unless I’ve had a drink. One drink turns into 3, which turns into 10 before I know it, which sounds awful I know. Plus as I’m getting older the hangovers are getting worse. I don’t mean to give up alcohol completely (yet!) But changing some of my habits will mean I can drastically reduce my alcohol content.
My first task is to swap from pints of beer, which I tend to gulp down quickly, to something that can be sipped slowly like wine or spirits. Then having a glass of water or a soft drink in between. This is something I always forget, but it means my hangovers won’t be so bad the next day!
I already follow a low-carb diet, so really all I plan to do is to eat less processed meats, and more fruit and vegetables. Breakfast time is the worst for me in terms of eating things like sausages, or cold meats, as I’m often in a rush and don’t have time for anything too complicated. But by processed meats for something like a fruit salad (prepared the evening before) then hopefully I can reduce my fat and salt intake, and increase fruit and veg.
I’ve discovered a local green-grocer which does home deliveries. The food tastes much better and is cheaper too. Have a look in your local area and discover what’s out there, instead of opting for convenience.
Stop Worrying About What Other People Think!
This has always been an issue for me since my teens. I’ve always wanted to be liked by everyone, and I take it really personally if someone says something mean, or if they just don’t like me for whatever reason. Recently I’ve started to realise that no matter how nice you are, and however far out of your way you go, you just can’t please everyone all the time.
I first realised this when I organised a charity collection for the Syrian refugees last year, and was astounded by the amount of abuse and negative comments I received, for doing something which I felt was so positive. No matter how hard you try, some people just won’t like you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t let it get to you, stop trying so hard, and just concentrate on your own happiness instead of trying to please everyone else.
Happy New Year to all my readers, and thanks for your support. I’d love to hear about your resolutions, and how you hope to achieve them! Let me know in the comments below.
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