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It’s the New Year, 2021, and after the crap fest we all experienced in 2020, it’s easy to believe that this year HAS to be better. Maybe you’ve even made a few New Year’s Resolutions to try to swing the odds in your favor. If so, you’re not alone. Our own Addison L. Jones (author of Eye of Horace and The Birds of Brookside Manor) is a seasoned professional when it comes to making big New Year plans. So, let’s turn things over to her.
New Year’s Resolutions with Addison L. Jones
I’m a planner. Always have been.
The only thing I enjoy more than getting stuff done is making extensive lists of things I PLAN to get done.
For a chronic list-maker like me, this time of year is pure joy: The New Year gives you a blank slate, ready to be filled up with tasks and plans and, of course, the inevitable New Year’s resolutions.
Only I don’t call them “resolutions.” I call them “New Year goals” instead because, to me, goals are positive things that you strive to achieve, whereas the word resolution seems to imply that something is wrong with you and needs to be fixed. Let’s get one thing straight: I may be flawed, but I’m not broken, and I DON’T need fixing (tweaking, maybe, but fixing? Nah).
But I DO have goals. Lots of them.
The problem is, I have a tendency to overestimate the amount of stuff I can realistically get done. Sure, I’m a pretty productive person. This year, just as an example, my goal was to read at least 75 books. I read 110. I’m no slouch. 😊
But sometimes I have a little TOO much faith in my ability to radically (and instantly) improve my life.
Back when I was about 50 pounds overweight, I remember setting a New Year goal to lose those 50 pounds within 6 months—and then having to set the exact same goal the following year (only now it was 60 pounds, because instead of losing the weight, I’d gained 10 more pounds!).
There’s something to be said for “slow and steady wins the race,” especially for weight loss and fitness, and when I finally eased up on myself and stopped focusing on the number on the scale and started setting goals for exercise and nutrition instead, I lost the weight and (mostly) kept it off.
Unfortunately, my brain never got the memo that I should probably be using the same technique I used for weight loss in the rest of my goal-setting life . . . which means I still tend to overreach.
Last year, I set a total of 22 goals for myself (which, I’m sorry to say, was actually an attempt to improve upon the previous year’s disastrously massive list of 45 goals—do I even need to say I barely accomplished any of them? Didn’t think so).
Among those 22 goals were the obvious things, like maintaining my weight, running at least 20 miles a week, doing more yoga, reading more books, and forcing myself out of my hermit-like existence to connect with friends and family now and then.
I can objectively say that I achieved 16 of those 22 goals, and I can’t decide if that’s good or bad. It’s more than half, better than average, but still, I can’t help feeling a little bit like a big fat failure.
And so, for this year, I’m taking a cue from weight-loss me (as opposed to crazy list-making me) and putting one goal at the top of my list: Be kinder to myself.
This year, I’ll try to be more realistic, using everything I’ve learned from my many years of setting (and achieving—or failing to achieve) goals.
I’ll follow the age-old advice to make my goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic, and time-bound.
I’ll stick to the big things I really want to do, the things that make me happy, instead of burdening myself with extra work when I know I’m already much too busy.
And I won’t put “Meditate daily” on my list (for the fourth year in a row), because it’s about time for me to face the fact that I have what they call monkey mind and I’ll just never one of those peaceful people enjoying enlightenment from the lotus position. And that’s okay. There are other ways to become enlightened.
This year, I will put myself first and I’ll be proud of every little victory, no matter how silly it might seem to someone else. These New Year goals are for me and only for me.
And that is okay, too.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and goal-filled New Year!
Thanks, Addison. And now back to our regularly scheduled newsletter.
Blydyn Square Book Club
This month in Book Club, we read 11/22/63 by Stephen King. In case you missed it, you can check out the video from our meeting here. Next time, we’ll be reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and our meeting will be on February 11, 2021. If you’re not already a member, sign up now. We always have a great time—even when we hate the book!
Blydyn Square Happy Hour
Don’t forget to join us on February 18 for our monthly Blydyn Square Happy Hour. Get the inside scoop on what we’re working on, find out how a small press works, or just chat about books. Anything goes! Hope to see you there. Here’s the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/96663451128
Quote of the Month
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
Brain Teaser of the Month
Congratulations to last month’s trivia winner, Sharon Brubaker, who won an Amazon gift card. The question was:
What author, when asked why he wrote Charlotte’s Web, famously replied: “I haven’t told why I wrote the book, but I haven’t told why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze.”
The answer was E. B. White.
And now here’s this month’s question:
Since Addison Jones was our “guest speaker” this month, the question is: On what mythological story is her novel Eye of Horace based?