It’s time to indulge in that yearly tradition of setting goals for the upcoming year. Goals are nice, and it’s probably good to go into the new year with an optimistic plan. I say “probably” because how often do we not meet the goals we set? How often do we not lose that weight? How often do we not go to the gym? We read our Bibles daily for a week, then get bored and tired of it and don’t pick them up again. Then February hits, and we realize that we’ve already failed in our resolutions. How do we feel then? I feel like quitting. I sit down on my couch, open that pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and mope. So was it really that good to set goals?
If you have no real desire to change, don’t bother to set goals that you’re not going to try to reach. If you do want to change, if you’ve sat down and analyzed your life, saying “here, here, and here is where I need to be better,” then realize you’re not going to magically change overnight. Try writing down what you want to improve on, make a plan on how achieve that improvement, and accept that you’re going to mess up at least twice. But don’t give up. I think that’s where our true failure lies. We trip once, and go, “Oh well. I tried.” One of my favorite life quotes comes from the Disney movie “The Haunted Mansion” (you know, the one with Eddie Murphy), and it’s this:
“You try, you fail, you try, you fail. But the only real failure is when you stop trying.”
Mistakes are a part of life. I’ve made so many last year, and the twenty-five years before that. I made a big mistake last year that I regret, and I have to live with the consequences now. I don’t want to live with them, but I don’t have that choice anymore. My choices now are to learn from my mistakes and grow, or let that mistake define me and shrivel into a bitter husk. I did cry over that mistake, by the way. I cried for days, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad that you messed up. Be sad, then pick yourself back up and keep going. And plan to keep making mistakes, because they’re going to keep happening whether you want them to, or not.
Last year, my “resolutions” were few. I wanted to lose weight, and send my finished book out to agents. Starting this year, I’m at my heaviest weight ever, and my book isn’t finished. Okay, so I had thought I had finished my book, and I did send it out to two agents. Both agents rejected it, and the one agent said it was 80,000 words too long. So I took it back and began hacking it down. I managed to chop it by 15k, but I still have thousands of words left to go. That’s fine. It’s not a failure, it’s just a set back.
This year, I have a few more goals in mind that I want to meet. I saw my sister’s New Year’s Resolutions, and I realized that I needed to steal some of them. I don’t like vegetables, but I know they’re good for me, and necessary to be healthy. I need to eat more vegetables. I don’t drink as much water as I should. I get caught up in drinking coffee, tea, and soda because they have actual flavor. I need to drink more water. I love drawing. I don’t think I’m great at it (I’m okay), but that’s mainly because I don’t work on it. It’s a hobby, and not one I try to improve. This year I got some nice Body-Kun drawing models for Christmas, and I want to use them to improve my drawing ability. And as I’ve learned from the agents I queried, my books are too long. I need to work on being concise and conservative in my story-telling. I need to treat my readers as if they’re actually smart (which they are), and not spell everything out for them. What better way to practice these traits than by writing a short story every month? On this blog, I’ve mainly been recycling ones I had to write in college. I’ll run out of those eventually, yet I have so many characters with backstories ripe for a short story! I’m not going to focus on numbers on a scale, or in a meal tracker. I’m not going to try to be perfect this year, just better.
2017 ended a little sourly for me, but I’m not going to say that it wasn’t a good year. I spent good times with friends, was in a wedding (or two, depending on which year my sister’s wedding falls), and I had a Halloween costume that I loved! Sure, there were mistakes. 2018 will have its fair share of mistakes, too, but I’m not going to let that hold me back. Bring on the mistakes. I can learn from them.
Happy New Year, everyone!