Every new year, I find myself making lofty resolutions about what I want to accomplish during this lap around the sun. Exercise, diet, and other standards often make their way onto my list. I've made goals to spend more time with certain people, to end bad habits, and to spend my time on more meaningful activities (looking at you, Instagram). Invariably, though, by the time I have stopped writing the previous year when writing the date, I've also abandoned all or most of my resolutions. One year I even made the resolution to simply stick to my goals. That was one of the worst ones.
I know I'm not the only one. It seems there are ads everywhere promising help with fitness, diet and other goals. But those ads wouldn't exist if resolutions were easy to keep. Every year, countless people are left feeling defeated when they don't accomplish their goals or give up after a few weeks. So why do we torture ourselves so?
We are all on a constant path of self-discovery, I think. Few have diluted themselves to the point of thinking they have nothing to improve in their life. My students, for example, although only 12 or so years old, listed resolution after resolution they hope to keep this year. They ranged from the serious (improve grades) to the lofty (don't procrastinate) to the funny (“Get more hype beastery,” which I think translates to improve my fashion). Even at their young ages, they know that they can get better. My hope, as their teacher, is to help them accomplish these goals. That's why we talked today about making a plan for your goals, making sure their attainable, measurable, and realistic (isn't there a SMART acronym for making goals?). We also talked about accountability, telling others about those goals so they can encourage us to accomplish them.
That brings me to my resolution. For years, I've harbored the private goal of writing more. Why private? I guess I was afraid of failing. Making the goal of writing more is also not very specific (that's the S in SMART goals!), and it also forces me to admit that, as a writing teacher, I don't write nearly enough.
So--gulp--here is my resolution: I am going to post on the O. Henry Writing Project every week, something original and that, hopefully, is a model for my students. I am going to write at least 4 times a week outside of that, for at least 30 minutes, in a way that will help me build my own writing portfolio. Because that is my biggest dream. I want to be a writer for middle school age audiences. I have to start somewhere, and this is my first step. Week 1 mission: accomplished. It feels good.
You should try it.