Musings on the New Year, Resolutions, and Failure

Happy New Year!

That’s right. A new year has begun.

This time always makes me excited for all the possibilities. In fairness, I get excited at lots of other times too. The best time to start a new resolution is right now, regardless of when that falls within the calendar year. But I get excited about the start of each day, each week, each month, each year, and so on. There’s just something about those points that makes the reality and weight of a fresh start all the more apparent, and I want to make the most of it.

The reality is that we can, of course, create new beginnings for ourselves whenever we choose. In fact, I’d recommend that. Today is a great day to change who you are. And today will always be the best day for that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be January 1.

I have however drawn up my goals for 2018. There’s over 200 of them. I have debated whether I’ll share them. And I might. They’re written down though, and I have action plans for most of the points.

But I have had a few friends point out that this seems stupid and foolish. Who on Earth makes over 200 goals for a new year (aside from the obvious answer, which is…me)? Aren’t I just setting myself up for failure? What am I thinking?

Well, let me tell you, I have put a lot of thought into this. I know New Year’s resolutions really aren’t popular anymore. They’re cheesy, corny, cliché, whatever. (I’ve never been cool, so I am not going to worry about that now.) But I like to look at each year as an opportunity to evaluate my own growth and ability to develop, and I learned awhile back that the best way for me to learn is to stretch myself beyond the point of easy success and into failure. My resolutions are generally actionable rather than vague declarations, and they require actual action.

See, I know good and well that I won’t make all my goals and resolutions, but I am going to do the best I can to get there. I have intentionally crafted them so that they are hard. Maybe they’re impossible. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m just going to try the best I can to get there and see how close I got at the end of the year.

My critical weaknesses are pride and a perfectionistic streak among other things. The best way to counter both of these is through failure because failure forces me to admit my weaknesses and realize that I cannot be perfect (doesn’t mean I won’t strive for excellence though!).

What has been a pleasant surprise though is that I have reached some of these incredibly difficult goals. I used to put down every day that I wanted to reach 10,000 words a day. It was a huge beautiful number, and for a long time, I didn’t make it. Starting off, I was barely clearing 4,000 words a day. But each day I did the best I could, and I kept that goal of 10,000 words a day. Eventually I reached it, and then I surpassed it.

This has happened with other goals as well, and it’s part of the reason that I will include things like “write 52 complete short stories or novellas” as one of my goals for each new year until I succeed at it. (The “complete” part is the hardest one for me as that means edited and polished, and I tend to let them fall to the side and drift in the flotsam and jetsam of my passing muse.)

Failure is not so much a discouraging factor as it is a reality. Each time I fail, there are things I can learn. And, boy, is there a lot I have yet to learn. It also makes it easier for me to strive for something and take a risk. I know what failure feels like, and it does sting. But it is survivable.

Now this doesn’t mean that I go into the new year or whatever new season I resolve to begin with the mindset that I will fail. I know that it is a possibility, but I throw myself into it as if I can make it. I act as if this will happen. When I started working for the 10,000 words a day, I started early in the day because I knew that that was what would make my success most likely. I treat these goals in the same way. And we’ll see how things turn out.

The one thing I hope, no matter what you do, is that you make your life better in some way. This doesn’t require that you set goals, though I do find them helpful for me. And if there is something you want to do, go for it. Now is a great time. Now will always be a great time. So get started now. Things won’t ever stay exactly the same, so you might as well change them in a direction you want. What works best for you? Goals or taking each day or moment at a time? Or something else?