To Resolve, Or Not To Resolve

by Kassandra Lamb

image of fireworks and 2018

image by Pixabay, CC0 (public domain) Wikimedia Commons

The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is a natural time to review what has come before and look ahead to how one may want to do things differently in the future.

I took an informal survey of some of my friends and fellow authors to see how folks felt about New Year’s resolutions these days. A few still make resolutions, while most said they prefer the term “goals.”

But even here the approach varied, from meticulously planning out the year complete with deadlines for each goal to only making relatively short-term goals. Motivations for the latter approach ranged from wanting to remain flexible to feeling that loftier, long-term goals would be too intimidating.

One person said if the goals were too big and she wasn’t making sufficient progress toward achieving them, then she would be tempted to throw in the towel and not even try anymore. But if she keeps the goals smaller and more short-term, then she can feel a sense of achievement as each is accomplished, which then motivates her to keep pushing toward the next goal.

I totally get that approach and it will help preserve one’s mental health. That’s pretty much how I handle concrete goals like “I will finish this current story by the end of January.”

But I also tend to make more general resolutions that are about how I want my life to go in the next year.

The last couple of years, my resolutions have been about finding a better balance between my writing business and my life. The business had become all consuming for a little while there and I needed to do some serious stepping back.

This past year, the balance has been better, but when I wasn’t “working,” whether that was writing or doing other business tasks, I was rather bored, at loose ends about what to do with my down time. I got back into reading more again and watching some of my favorite TV shows (it’s fun to binge on your faves now with Netflix and such). But those were still solitary activities.

beginning a list of resolutions

So this year’s resolution is to have more fun, and to especially have more fun with other people. I’m going to check out some local classes and such.

I also asked folks if they got upset with themselves if they didn’t meet their goals/resolutions. Some did, but most said they just regroup and try again.

And one person very wisely pointed out that when she doesn’t meet a goal, she stops to ask herself if she really wants to meet it. Has it failed to happen because it isn’t truly what she desires or needs in her life right now?

Very good questions! All too often we stick with a goal, even when maybe it’s not right for us, because letting it go feels like quitting. But letting it go is sometimes exactly what we need to do.

My favorite response, however, to the question about getting upset with oneself was one woman’s comment:  “I’m too old to get worked up about that.” Amen, sister!

If age has taught me anything, it’s that life is too important to be taken seriously. And I’ve found that beating up on myself is one of the least productive things I can do.

I too tend to ask if the unachieved goal is truly relevant, and if I decide it is, then I adjust my approach and/or the time line. Sometimes the task was bigger than I thought it would be and is taking longer. Sometimes it needs to be broken down into more manageable sub-goals.

I think the best approach to resolutions was one person’s combination of resolutions and goals. She said she tries to have an overarching theme for the year, expressed in a few words, and then she makes short-term goals that are more concrete.

So my few words would be “Have more fun!” And the concrete goals to make that a reality will be to:

  • Streamline promotions and hire more of that work out to other people.
  • Spend more of my working time actually writing rather than doing other tasks.
  • Find some interesting/fun things to do that get me out of the house and allow me to interact more with people.

How about you? Do you make resolutions, set goals, or avoid both? Oh, and by the way. . .

world with Happy New Year

Image by Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

A Reminder: we are officially posting every other week in 2018, although we may share some other interesting tidbits in the off weeks. And next time, on January 30th, we will be starting a special series of interviews to introduce you all to other mystery writers. (Interviews will be posted about once every 4-6 weeks.)

So please stay tuned!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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  • Reply
    Barb Taub
    January 16, 2018 at 1:40 am

    If anything ever deserves the big AMEN SISTER!, it’s this—“…life is too important to be taken seriously”.

    Great post. And hope you have a terrific and fun-filled year.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      January 16, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      LOL I have to confess that I stole that line from my brother, and I think he got it from somebody else.

      It says it all, doesn’t it?

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    January 16, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Ah, resolutions…I can’t stand them. In the past when I’ve tried, it often felt like I was setting myself up for failure. I understand the importance of taking stock and making adjustments that will improve my situation, but I go about it a bit differently these days. I guess I’m more in the “goal” or “keyword” group, where I make a decision about what path I want to travel this coming year. Typical ones such as healthier habits, improving my craft, more writing productivity, more networking…. Then, when I’m at a crossroads, making choices day to day, I’ll check in with myself as to whether that’s going to help me along the “personal” path or the “work” path. Sometimes I’ll acknowledge that it won’t, but I’m not ready to take that step and will regroup later. Baby steps!

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Kass. Good luck with your resolutions!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      January 16, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      Several other people said that, Kathy, about setting themselves up for failure if they made it a “resolution” they had to keep vs. a goal they were aiming for.

      I think there’s a lot to that psychologically. These New Year adjustments, whatever we call them, are meant to motivate, not frustrate.

      And yes, sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to not perfectly follow the path we’ve set and fall back and regroup. Well said!

  • Reply
    Shannon Esposito
    January 16, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    I usually do make some kind of life improvement resolution but then again I find great pleasure in working on self improvement on all areas (perfectionist, anyone? :-)) Especially writing & health. But this year I just decided on a small thing…buying some plants and trying to keep them alive.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      January 16, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      LOL That would be a major challenge for me, Shannon. If plants could run, they’d take off when they see me coming. 🙂

      But I’m glad you’re being gentle with yourself this year.

  • Reply
    Lynn Kelley
    January 18, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Happy New Year, Kass. I think 208 is going to be a great year for all of us! Cheers!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      January 19, 2018 at 1:05 am

      Thanks, and I agree, Lynn. Here’s to a wonderful year!

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