A Pledge for the New Year

A Pledge for the New Year

A new year. A fresh start. A chance to do all those things you said you were going to do last year but never got around to. We’re all guilty of it.

Everyone embraces the new year. It’s a chance to start over, to shed all the negativity we’ve carried with us for a year and start again with nothing weighing us down. Never mind that we could do this at any time; the end of the old year and the start of a new one is a powerful symbol. That symbol, that ritual, gives us the shove we need to finally let go.

It’s like having a blank piece of paper. It’s pristine, shining with all kinds of potential to be anything you want it to be. But once you make a mark on the page and have to erase it, that shining potential seems to disappear. The paper will never be as wonderful as it was when you first laid it in front of you. We carry our mistakes with us. Sometimes they serve as guides – I know not to draw a line there next time! – but sometimes they only hinder us. We know we should get up and get a new piece of paper, but we just can’t seem to give up on the one we already have.

But everyone starts fresh when the year rolls over. Everyone gets a brand new piece of paper. And the first thing they do is write down their resolutions. This year I’m going to eat better. This year I’m going to laugh more. This year I promise to exercise.

I’ve been there. I’ve done it. And I consistently fail to live up to my resolutions. The problem, I think, is that they are start dates. Starting in the new year I’m going to eat healthy. Starting in the new year, I’m going to run every day. But everyone starts the new year with a party, usually one which keeps them up well past midnight, because you can’t ring in the new year if you’re sleeping through it’s start! SHEESH! After that we’re tired. We really want to eat the cake at the new years day party. We really don’t feel like running after all that booze we drank the night before. I’ll start tomorrow. And then it becomes I’ll start next week. But we never start.

Some people manage to get over that first obstacle. They’re strong. They’re disciplined. January first they throw out all their chocolate, don their running shoes and stick to the plan. They’ve been so good they deserve a night to cheat! It inevitably breaks us all. Once you buy that one pint of Häagen-Dazs, you’re screwed my friend. You remember how great chocolate tastes. You remember how much you love sleeping in. And there goes your new years resolution. I’ll take care of it next year.

So I’m not starting 2012 with resolutions. I’m starting it with goals. I’m giving myself endpoints, places I want to be by the end of the year. Goals are more manageable.  If I miss the day I originally intended to start, I can catch up tomorrow. I didn’t screw it up if I missed a day. The goal hasn’t changed. No matter what happens throughout the year, the goal will always be there. A shining beacon. All I have to do is find the path.

I’m starting the year with two major goals (and a whole host of minor ones, but they’re less important). I will consider 2012 a resounding success if I meet both of them even if it ends up being the shittiest year ever.

First and foremost: get my house fixed. It will be a rocky road. There’s a lot of work to do and it’s going to test my limits as much as the damage did. But no matter how the path twists and turns, the work will get done. Luckily, I don’t need a goal to remind me of this one, the basement will remind me all by itself. It sure would be nice to have proper access to my laundry room again.

But perhaps the most important goal for me is make money off my writing. In the short term this might mean selling a story or two. Hopefully it means selling my first novel. In the long term it means making this my career. Because my wish has always been and will always be to make enough money off of my writing to keep doing it, to make it my job, my focus. I was originally going to make this goal get published but that’s only one aspect of the goal. I need to take it one step further because I don’t just want to write one thing and then consider myself a success. I want to keep doing it. I want to make sure I can keep doing it. There is the first goal, after all. (Wouldn’t it be nice to fix the house with money I made from my writing? You bet your ass it would be! One stone, two birds…)

So that’s what I’m doing with all this year’s shiny new potential; I’m transforming it into a light house to guide me around the rocks and pitfalls I know are coming. If I fail the first time, I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and throw myself down the next path. Because anything worth accomplishing is worth working your ass off for.

That’s what 2012 is all about!

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