Here we go. Whoop-de-doo. It’s a new year. Two-thousand and twenty-four. Time to set our New Year's resolutions. Or is it?
When I think about goals I want to achieve, number one is always to advance my writing. Today, that meant editing four chapters of The Singer, a necessary next step because I want to eventually publish a second-edition in eBook format, then follow up with a paperback version, then posting it to other self-publishing platforms, then start marketing (reviews, ads, and promotions -- whatever works). Are these goals? Are these my new year's resolutions?
This is how I see the New Year’s Resolution -- I think it is a waste of energy to focus specific, one-year goals. Or to hang my personal sense of self, confidence, accomplishment, and worth, on a bullet list of annual accomplishments. I don't want to live my life like everything I want to make myself happy and fulfilled is waiting up the road, ahead of me, some arbitrary milestone I need to chase. I believe in milestones, yes. And I believe in achievable goals. But I believe they happen along the way if you embark on a journey and follow a daily path.
I believe that you must have an idea of what you want for yourself, but just not expressed as a series of limited, finite, transitory goals. I believe we need a vision for the biggest-possible-version form of what we want out of life, but then we only need to live today in alignment with that vision, not chase intermediate and superficial short-term ideas of what we should be doing to get there.
What is the dream version of anything you want to do with your life? What is your life's purpose and what would be the ultimate expression of that purpose?
For me, writing is my primary purpose in this life. The dream version of my life as a writer is having a readership big enough that I have the financial freedom to pursue writing to my fullest ability, that I write the best novels I'm capable of, that they connect with and reach enough people that I never have to worry about how I am going to fund my lifestyle.
The ideal lifestyle is one where I have a secure home base, with space and comfort and all the tools and supplies I need to live comfortably. That I have the space and resources I need to do my work. That my family is provided for. That I have the space and resources to host guests and help others.
The ideal lifestyle also includes the freedom work from somewhere other than my home base when the mood or inspiration strikes me. The work is portable -- I can write my daily pages, edit my chapters, process, post and publish finished novels, and otherwise do whatever needs to be done -- from anywhere with power, a stable Internet connection, and a decent chair and working surface to write from. If I want to work for a month in England so I can visit family and see the sights in my spare time, lovely. if I want to sit at a desk in a hotel room in a resort overlooking some amazing ocean vista, listening to the waves crash, and eating in beachfront shacks every night? Why not? Hole up in a log cabin in a thigh-deep snowbound wilderness? If I choose to, yes.
It’s New Year’s Day, so I could express the desire to reach this ultimate version of living up to my chosen purpose in life by setting some one-year (short-term) goals that I may or may not have the vision, ambition, and momentum to sustain though the year, but I’d be cheating myself out of the way things might unfold for me if I am more open to possibility.
All great things are accomplished both incrementally (big works are achieved in daily increments), and by capturing a moment of spark -- a break, a sudden opportunity that comes and can be taken advantage of only by someone who is completely open and aligned with it, and who is ready, has done the work, and is prepared to jump on it.
So instead of New year's Resolutions, I am focused on daily habits. I want to cultivate a daily habit of moving my writing forward, with a list of options for what that can mean on any given day (writing pages to a current project, outlining and planning the next one, editing and publishing a finished work, promoting and advocating for my published work). This approach is more achievable and more in alignment with my ultimate vision for myself than some arbitrary New Year’s resolution.
What is your life's purpose? Your greatest desire? What can you do today that is in alignment with that purpose?