Forget New Year’s resolutions, we all know that they don’t work. Target setting is much better; it’s more realistic and less restrictive. You can work towards a target whereas with a resolution, once you’ve fallen you’ve failed. Not much point in hauling yourself back on the chocolate and booze free wagon once everybody has seen you practically mainlining a family sized block of Dairy Milk and swilling it down with gin. No, targets are much more doable with lots of room for human error.
The target experts tell us we are supposed to set ourselves long term and short term goals but I’m not bothering with all that. I’m setting myself five, which sounds like a nice round number and, as long as I achieve them some time in 2013, I’ll consider it a job well done. Anyway, in the spirit of a New Year of fresh starts – here are mine.
1. Just say no!
For a long time, we have been hearing about the philosophy of embracing life by saying ‘yes’ to everything. Jim Carrey even made a film about it, where saying yes was purported to open up new experiences and untold possibilities. Well, I’ve had it with that. In 2013, I’m saying ‘no’ to everything. No more parties, no more weekends away, no more nights out. Forget opening myself up, I’m shutting up shop. After a year of hardly accomplishing anything, it’s time to refocus my energy. It hasn’t helped that I have been working far more than I would like and that is set to continue until July. However, instead of using whatever time I had left on my writing, I have squandered it and that has resulted in the novel that was supposed to be published in September now looking at January. I feel toxic and drained from too many late nights and something has to give. I feel happiest when I am
writing and so I'm getting back to basics, trimming the fat and, once I get to July, I intend to take a year off. Any offers, job, social or otherwise, will be met with the same response. No, no, no! That is unless George Clooney decides to come calling of course.
2. Limit internet time
At the moment, all the various social networking sites are dominating my life. I realise that for indie writers they are an important
forum for promoting work but I’ve had enough. I love supporting other writers and helping them in whatever way I can but I’m starting to dread the retweeting marathon sessions. Hours of my time is eaten up returning the favour of retweets, which seems only fair when people have taken the trouble to retweet me, but it’s all starting to feel like a big, dark, meaningless pit. Once I’ve
done with that, I have no desire to spend time editing or writing. My eyes hurt, my head feels like it’s spinning and before I know it I’m playing Bejewelled Blitz for another hour and then there’s no time to do anything because it’s almost midnight. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I have somehow got to shift the balance between writing and social networking sites so that writing is
back at the forefront of what I do.
3. Physical Exercise
I know exercising isn’t for everybody but it’s definitely a feel good factor for me. I have done barely anything though in a year and feel slovenly and sloth like. The key is finding something that fits into my lifestyle. In an ideal world, I would be at the gym every day but, after kidding myself for the better part of the year that I can keep that up along with work; it’s time to face reality. That’s not to say I can’t do anything, I am thinking of investing in DVDs to do at home or maybe incorporating more walking into my day. I’m going to start off small and hopefully build on that. Once I have freed myself from the chains of social networking, I will probably find myself with time to do all sorts of things that currently feel too much like hard work.
3. Austerity measures
Yes, I’m following in the footsteps of the rest of the world and embracing them. I’m going to stop spending money like it’s going out of fashion and actually appreciate what I’ve got. To be truthful, I was shamed into this stance when a friend asked me recently for clothes for a charity collection she was involved in. Now, I confess I’m not what you could call competent on the domestic front. I pretty much iron as I go and my laundry system consists of my clean clothes being thrown into the bottom of my wardrobe where they languish until I pluck something out to iron. The downside of this system is twofold. Firstly, my ironed clothes don’t fit in the wardrobe and have to be draped over a chair and secondly the clothes at the bottom of the pile never see the light of day. I know, I know, I’m thoroughly ashamed and never more so than when I dragged everything out of the wardrobe in order to decide what to give away. It was quite amazing, there were clothes I had forgotten I even had; it was like discovering a whole new wardrobe. I also found several garments that still had the tags on having never even been worn. The obscenity of buying more stuff to add to the pile was not lost on me and I have decided I am not buying any items of clothing for the duration of 2013.
5. To thine own self be true
This is my last target and I think maybe the most important. Writing for an audience and deciding to publish what I have written has been a massive learning curve, as I’m sure it is for everyone. I can’t help feeling though that, in the process of trying to become more skilled in what I do, I have lost my way. I’ve spent the last few months reading endless blogs and websites all offering wonderful advise on writing and publishing. The problem is you can tie yourself in knots listening to the advice of other people. Sometimes you just have to listen to your own voice and accept that what’s right for another person might not be right for you. Maybe we have to stand by what we have written regardless of what other people might think. The turning point for me came when I read on someone’s website a quote by the writer, Harlan Coben, who basically said that there is no point in writing unless what you write is successful. I love Coben’s books and totally get why he sells millions of them the world over. In addition, I am sure that he’s a very nice man but it has to be said – I think he’s talking rot. I love to dance but I have two left feet and I love to sing even though I sound like a wounded animal but, if we followed Coben’s line of thinking, there would be no point in me doing either. What about the sheer joy that most of us derive from singing, dancing, writing or whatever other outlet we might choose? I write because I enjoy it and if someone else chooses to read it then that’s a bonus. I’m no different to anyone else and I would be lying if I tried to deny the pleasure that knowing someone has enjoyed what I have written brings. However, I can’t help thinking that making this the reason for writing can only lead to discontent and misery. 2013 then is going to be a year of dancing to my own tune. Maybe I’ll be dancing my way to nowhere fast but, you know what, I’ve been there before and it’s not so
It seems to me that having committed my targets to paper, they all come down to the same thing. I’m going back to basics and
trusting myself to know the way. I have to say, it’s been a very therapeutic exercise and I recommend that you give it a go. Don’t judge me too harshly though if I get off to a slow start. After all, I have got the whole year.