A new year always comes with new possibilities. We hope they are good. We know some will be bad. But we carry on all the same, hoping that our futures will err on the side of good.
Maybe that’s why we do New Year’s Resolutions. I’ll admit, I’m someone who always comes up with a list of ways I’m going to make myself new and improved. I’ll also admit, I don’t really understand the origin of resolutions. Neither of my parents made them (at least not as far as I know). I don’t even really know where the tradition originated. I could do a quick Google search to find out, but that’s not really the point. Regardless of where the whole concept came from, I am a sucker for making resolutions every year.
And I suck at following through with them.
I am all about goal-setting and making lists. So when a new year rolls around, of course I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish, hopefully in pursuit of making myself better and making my year good. I also tend to overreach. I say I’m going to write three or four books, find a fabulous big publisher with a contract, eat super healthy and work out all the time so I can be ripped, and then pay off all my debt and save a bunch of money, so I’ll finally have my life/shit together.
At the same time, I neglect coming up with any plans intended to enrich myself emotionally or spiritually. I end up failing at those big goals, feel overwhelmed and end up tossing out my resolutions without much to show from them. I then go through a series of meltdowns and lazy periods filled with self-loathing and general bummery. That leads to me feeling pretty bummed about everything when we come to the end of the year and I realized I haven’t done all that much. So, of course, I have to set more resolutions to make up for my previous failures, and the whole cycle starts up again.
That brings us to today, to 2017. I could say, “not this year” or “no resolutions for me,” but darn it all, this is my tradition. And even if I fail in the pursuit of making myself a better person, well, at least I tried.
All the same, this year I’m doing a slightly different take with my resolutions. Rather than focus on weight-loss (which would be great, but is also stressful), bestsellership (which is awesome, but realistically, probably not in the cards for me this year), and deciding I’ll get my shit together at last, I’m going to focus on doing things that I think will bring me happiness and balance. I want to stop telling myself I need to be good and better and focus on doing good and making my world better. I want to be happy, not perfect. I want to live my best life and be my best me, even if that means learning to accept and love my flaws.
With that in mind, here’s my list of resolutions--or better yet goals and aspirations--for 2017.
Read 50 new-to-me books.
I’m a big re-reader of stories, and I’m never going to stop doing that. Re-reading my favorites brings me so much joy. But, I become a better-rounded person and writer when I read other books. Bonus: I'm going to challenge myself to diversify my reading more. Last year I read more non-fiction, which really expanded my thinking. I should continue that, but I also want to read stories by authors from more diverse backgrounds to hopefully expand my world-view.
Watch more new-to-me movies.Like with books, I tend to re-watch the same movies, which is okay. But between $5 movies on Tuesdays and before 11 a.m. on weekends at our local theaters and my Netflix and Amazon subscriptions, I have a lot of never-before-seen movies at my fingertips. A few years ago, my sister and I went and saw bunches of movies during the first few months of the year. When I lived in Houston, I'd rent at least three new movies a week from RedBox. I watched things I loved, things I disliked, but all in all, I genuinely think it made me better. Plus, planning movie time is like planning productive downtime, which I really need.
Bake a loaf of bread every month.
I made my first non-quick bread in 2016, and it kind of changed my life. There was something so therapeutic about kneading bread and letting the smell of it fill my house. While I don't eat a ton of bread, I can freeze what I don't use right away. I hope this will be fun and a way for me to be more conscious of what I'm eating. That leads me to...
Try one new recipe every week.
Of course this will vary based on travel/work, but I have this on the list for a few reasons. One, I need to stop defaulting to takeout/fast food, because I'm bored with my options at home. It's pricey and not so healthy. Two, I'm great at saving recipes on Pinterest to make later only to never follow-up. This is accountability. Three, like with the bread, I hope it will help me pay more attention to what I'm eating and discover a joy in cooking. Who knows? As an added benefit, maybe it will help me make healthier decisions when I eat all around. Plus, I like cooking. I just forget that.
Do 30 minutes of cardio five times a week.
Yes, yes, this is pretty much the same thing I tell myself every year. Only, most of the time I say it as part of a plan to lose weight. This year, I want to make it part of my routine as something I do, because it is good for me. I want to find ways of enjoying these 150 minutes every week. I won't deny that dropping some L-Bs wouldn't be nice, but that can't be my main objective. I've tried that--and dieting--before. It works temporarily, then I rebel. Badly. And I do remember enjoying exercise. Not necessarily the act of it, but how I felt after doing it. I was less sluggish and had more energy. I could go for both.
Try the whole clean-as you-go-deal I keep hearing about.
I've read several articles that suggest doing a little bit of housework every day to keep you from panicking whenever you have people over. I've meant to implement something like this for years, but haven't. I still don't know if I'll be great at it. But basically, I'd be happy if I could make it a habit to unload the dishwasher when it's clean, load dishes as I use them, make my bed every morning, and take the damn trash out when it's full. These are all basic things, but I'm really good at being lazy.
Go on an adventure somewhere I've never been.
Last year I went to Nantes, France, and Western Nebraska for work. I'd never been either place. I'd even dreaded both trips at one point in time or another. Both turned out to be some of the most positive moments of my year. I am a homebody at heart, but I gain so much from exploring the world. I need to remember that.
Keep regular office hours for my writing career.It tends to be feast or famine with me when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing. I'm feeling more and more like an author these days, and I should start acting like it. I need to carve out consistent time so I feel less panicked about deadlines. I need to work at it every day so I can get better at it every day. Because all of this is a craft you have to practice over and over again. As such, I need to remember that when I write it doesn't have to be perfect. I can try scene from a few different perspectives--or start a story in different places--until it feels right.
Have a regular day of pampering every week.
Rachel Hollis, one of my favorite authors to stalk--I mean, follow--on social media, encourages women to do this. Whether it's going out and getting your nails done or giving yourself a manicure and facial at home, she says it's a great way to practice self care. All too often, I put things like this on the back burner, but making an evening of it--once a week, if even for half an hour--would go a long ways for me.
I don't know how I'll do with keeping these resolutions. They're pretty major, and I know I just have to do my best. Really, what a lot of this comes down to is making a good routine for myself. While I don't want to over-structure my life, I do need to have some. Otherwise, I end up doing nothing and feeling badly about myself.
So what about you? Are you making any resolutions? Do you have any advice for me on implementing and keeping mine? Leave a comment below.
(And, okay, after all of this, I was curious. I went ahead and ran a Google search to learn more about the origin story behind New Year’s resolutions. Apparently it dates back to the Babylonians making promises to their gods each year to pay their debts. The Romans were in on it too. I don’t know. I’m not a historian, so I’ll direct you here or here if you’d like to read more.)
*** Let's keep in touch! You can find out what's going on in my world between blog posts by following my daily adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I post new videos on YouTube every Thursday and you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter here. You can also find out more about my books by visiting my website, www.laurachapmanbooks.com. Whew. ***