Happy new year, writers!
Are you the kind of person who makes a resolution on the first day of every incoming year? Or are you the kind of person who thinks resolutions are doomed to failure, so why even make one?
I am both. I think names matter, and calling something a resolution doesn’t necessarily resolve anything. But I am also a dreamer, someone who cannot pass up the opportunity to imagine how things could be, reimagine how things are. I am super practical, so I am always setting goals and breaking those goals down into manageable steps. I was both made for New Year’s resolutions and made to rebel against them.
I also want to say, for the record, that while the start of a new year is a great time to assess and set goals, there is no need to transform your entire existence. No matter what the commercials say, there is nothing wrong with who you were last year, or with who you will be even if you don't stick to your resolution! There is so much pressure to be perfect. We're all living in extraordinarily difficult times; being kind to ourselves and one another seems like the best way to keep moving forward. Think small, manageable goals that lead to an evolved mindset.
What I like to do is choose a word for the coming year. I am a writer, after all, and choosing a sort of “word of the year,” a touchpoint I can return to when I lose focus, appeals to my creative spirit. Past “words of the year” have included manifest (in the year that I made things happen, like buying my first house and finding my voice in an important relationship) and embrace (in the year that I thought outside the proverbial box and took on new opportunities, ones I might have previously overlooked).
For 2022, my word is community.
As a writer, a teacher, a mother, and seeker of light and love in the most general sense, I wish to strengthen my connection to the various communities in which I find myself. That might mean forging new friendships, but also being a better friend. It might mean helping more writers find their voices, but also writing in and sharing my own voice more often.
Choosing a word helps me set an intention, sure. But it also gives me a clear concept to try to embody. The point, I suppose, is not to set a goal or resolution so much as to be the goal or resolution. I crave action. I want to be and do. I have thought and listened and observed; now, I want to join conversations and movements. I want to connect. I want to make things happen, and I can’t do it alone.
Whatever your resolution or word-of-the-year, here is my humble offering of advice on how to embody it and keep up with it as the year unfolds (hint: it includes writing):
Write it down.
Of course. Write it down, but not just in one place. Write it in your journal, on sticky notes for your fridge and bathroom mirror, in texts to friends. Look at it every day. Keep it in the forefront of your mind.
Meditate on it.
If you don’t meditate, that’s fine. But be willing to reconsider what you wrote down at various points throughout the year, and to revise it if it doesn’t seem to be working for you.
Act on it.
What actions might you take that will serve this goal or intention? This is the part where you break your goal down into concrete steps. And when you “get your steps in” for the day or week, don’t forget to find small, meaningful ways to celebrate yourself.
The key to choosing a word or intention for the year is in making it broad enough to reach many different areas of your life. Example: A common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. If that’s your goal, great—but that goal is very specific to one area of life. If, however, your word-of-the-year is “discard,” and the concept is to discard that which holds you back, weighs you down, or doesn’t serve you anymore, that concept can be more widely applicable. You can work toward dropping bad habits, toxic acquaintances, and that pile of junk in the attic, as well as unwanted pounds. You can begin to develop a “discard” mindset, which is the equivalent of making good diet and regular exercise a lifestyle change rather than just a resolution every January 1.
Write it down again.
Go back to the journal to reflect on your progress. Looking back on where we started shows us how far we’ve come, and such record-keeping can give us the confidence to keep going.
What is your New Year’s resolution, your word-of-the-year, or your general goal or wish for 2022? Share with us in the comments.
Related reading: Set smaller goals to build three strong writing habits
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