Goals, habits, resolutions & revolutions

I like resolutions–whether it’s the beginning of the year, the season, the month, or the week–even the morning. For me, a resolution is an ongoing, continually renewed commitment. The habits I want to start or stop.

I might have goals for the year, one-time things to accomplish. Those are different–and last year, I did better at them.

The habits are for me the hard ones. Last summer, I started a new system for those, and it’s helped.

I print out (on paper!) a blank calendar for the month. Then I pull out my colored pencils and write down the things I want to do or not do daily, using a different color for each. Next comes the fun part: Every success gets a star for its color. The stars are a kind of reward, and a way of being accountable. I can look at a day or week and see how I’m doing. I can see what I’ve missed, what I need to work more on. If I have a day with only one star, it isn’t the end of the world. It’s a map saying that I’ve wandered off course. (Ooh, calendar as map.)

When the month is done, I look at what went well, what didn’t, and what I want to work on or pay attention to during the next month. It might be the same, or it might change. I start over. I renew my commitment.

But I mentioned revolutions. In the much wider community sense, we have more opportunities to foster healing and be better in the world, and here are five New Year’s revolutions.

How can you grow your life, your art? How can you change the world?

Good reminders for any day of the week

Wednesday morning, Epiphany, and sure the year has already started and the conversation about resolutions continues.

A friend sent me this link to an illustrated version of Ron Padgett’s poem “How to be Perfect”: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2016/01/04/resolutions/

Enjoy. I’m going to go eat an orange.

Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2014.

All week, there’s been talk of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re for them, and maybe you aren’t.

I come down squarely in favor of New Year’s resolutions–the idea of a clean slate and setting goals. Jeannine Hall Gailey talks about taking stock and refocusing. Penelope Trunk talks about resolutions as KPIs (key performance indicators), and for me that puts the focus on measuring and continuing. You mess one up, you don’t quit; you keep pursuing your goals. Similarly, Kelli Russell Agodon offers a wonderful and inspiring way to think of living going forward, plus her great list of guidelines. That makes me think of a map–resolutions as a map for guiding my day.

My most successfully kept resolution ever was to read the comics in the newspaper every day–and even then, I missed a day or two.

Last year, my goals were important but not specific (be a better wife, be a better mother, write better, be a better leader at work), so I wrote out a list of how I could become better. It was a good list, but it was too long (about 15 things). Some I achieved, if intermittently, some I missed.

This year, I was aiming for 5-7, and ended up with about 10. My mom suggested prioritizing, which makes sense, but instead I grouped them together. I looked at my list of individual activities (my practice) in terms of results–what I want those activities to accomplish. That has gotten me down to 5.

One of the best things someone has said to me in my work search is, “What do you want your contribution to be?” And recently Tom and I had a great conversation about aligning your projects to what you really want to do. Both of those thoughts resonate with me. I want my resolutions, my goals, my daily practice to align with landing the kind of work I want to do, with my career change (more on that later), and with making the best choices–for me, for my family, for the world.

Have you written resolutions or guidelines for the new year? Or do you find other ways to stay focused?

Happy New Year!

snowdrop flowersWhether you resolve to __(insert resolution here)__ or you resolve not to resolve, here’s wishing you the best in 2013. And can we call it lucky 2013?

While taking down (most of) the outside lights this afternoon, I saw these little snowdrops hiding behind the giant hydrangea. This picture shows the full bounty of my snowdrops (not many), and so I always feel so happy to stumble across them when they’re blooming. (Some years, I miss them entirely.)

I do make New Year’s resolution–with an emphasis on “resolve” as an ongoing activity (as opposed to, “I broke my resolution so all bets are off”). This year, I had a resolution revelation: I want to be a better mother, a better wife, a better colleague at work–but being doesn’t tell me how. I need the how, I need the doing.

So this morning I sat down and made a list (a fairly long list) of hows–things I can do everyday, or do my best to do everyday, to be better. Plus a few hows for writing better, including reading poetry every day (not just during the work week), bus writes everyday Monday-Friday even when it’s wet and sloppy out or I feel way too cold, going to at least one poetry reading & open mic a month, and choosing one poet a quarter for a deep dive (reading as much as I can–the poems, any essays, all of it). Now I need to find my poet for this first quarter.

Have you made resolutions for this new year? Any good writing ones to share?

Let the year begin!