RUMINATING ABOUT NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE BROKEN—AND THE KEPT
AND THE GOODNESS AND KINDNESS OF FRIENDS
Privately, I have had a tendency to be extremely self-critical—and to focus more on my failures than successes. Though that is better than ignoring one’s failures, I’m not sure that focusing on one’s lack of successes is particularly constructive. Yes, you should certainly note them and try and learn what you can from them (normally a great deal)—but, arguably. it is rather more important to be aware of your achievements. They build confidence and resilience—which you need to achieve more successes. Faith in yourself is important—and the lack of it can be sensed by others.
If there is one thing I believe in absolutely (and there are many) it is that success breeds success—and what the world regards as success, and you do personally, are two very different things.
Yes, I do have material goals—though I am not particularly materialistic these days—but my primary goals, other than those to do with my writing, have to do with my character. I am painfully aware of my weaknesses and would like to improve my character before I die.
Can I? I actually think I can. I’m not sure I would have said that a decade ago—because, over time, we tend to become very set in our ways—but I have been discovering over the last five years or so that age is not a barrier to re-thinking things. On the contrary, it is a help. You have all that experience to draw upon. It is exciting.
I used to think New Year resolutions were a waste of time—because one rarely keeps them. Now. I’m agreeably surprised to find that I’m keeping them—even when they are difficult. I’m not totally successful, of course, but mostly. Evidently, my self-discipline has improved. It needed to.
Miracles do happen.
One area where I have failed dismally—yet again—is at my goal of keeping a daily journal.. I feel a writer should maintain such a thing, if only to ensure that one writes something every day—and to log those useful things, ideas (which have a tendency to wander unless corralled. But—again and again—I start off well and taper off within a month or so.
Will I try again in 2015? I haven’t decided yet. On the one hand, I don’t particularly want to make a resolution that I am virtually guaranteed to break. On the other hand, it relates directly to my writing and would be an excellent exercise in self-discipline.
I think I’ll keep my decision to myself. Much as I don’t really feel comfortable talking about books I haven’t written, I debate the wisdom of talking about resolutions I haven’t kept.
I have kept to my resolution to blog every day and have been truly amazed at what a positive effect it has had. So why not combine the blog and the journal? Because my journal—as I see it—should primarily be a record of events and private. Also, I like to dump half formed ideas and odd scraps of information in my journal so it often looks like a bit of a mess. In contrast, I like this blog to be relatively neat and structured.
On the face of it, 2014 has been something of a disaster for me.
- I haven’t succeeded in getting my little publishing going.
- I hurt myself badly in April and was in pain and operating below par for months.
- I was completely drowned by two overly successful e-mail experiments.
- This is the first year for some time where I haven’t written a book (though I do have a book of essays on writing culled from this blog)..
I could go on, but I don’t want to depress myself—or you
The paradox is that I am ending 2014 feeling more positive and energized than I have in a long time—because apart from my setbacks, a whole string of good things has happened. Also I have found my writing developing in ways that I had always hoped for, but hadn’t been able to a achieve up to now.
I also have the sense that inconvenient though it has been in the short term (something of an understatement), my publishing company will benefit from being delayed.
Is that rationalization? Well, I’m sure there is some there, but—on balance—I don’t think so. I have certainly strengthened it quite substantially over the last year in very specific ways. The most important had to do with determining my brand image (which I couldn’t really get a handle on until this year—but which is fundamental).
I have also been the recipient of much kindness and have seen the true mettle of some very special friends. I feel much blessed. When you have nothing to offer in a material sense—and no current social position or status to contribute—it means a very great deal when people reach out. Many do not. The exceptional do.
Again and again, they have done just that. I just hope that such behavior is infectious. They have set a standard that I would be very proud to come close to. My character now has no shortage of role models. I just hope the damn thing pays attention.
It really is a wonderful life.
Happy New Year to you.
VOR words 889.