I admit I love the new year. I loathe the holidays leading up to it, but there’s something psychologically empowering about January 1st. I wrote about this in my novel, being a “resolutionist.” Every year I set out to clear my mind of distraction and hunker down and accomplish something for a change. Sometimes I succeed; often I do not. But hope springs eternal even at the beginning of winter.
Goals for 2016 (My “New” New Year’s Resolutions):
- Break down my goals into 10-plans that seem realistic. Part of the problem with these over-arching goals is that I simply don’t maintain them. I don’t think I am the only one. When you take on a global task, such as “find a new job” or “write a novel,” the effort to accomplish what needs to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal is simply too much. It’s not realistic to think you can “get out of debt,” but it is realistic to say, “I will track my spending for the next 10 days.” Maybe then you see patterns that will help you course correct and get to a new “plateau,” whether that is for losing weight or gaining friends. For example, I just completed my first 10-day goal, which was to do my practice (yoga + meditation) every day (for 10 days). My next 10-day goal (more below) is to go on a “diet.” After that, I want to establish a running routine for 10 days. Maybe all these 10-day efforts get extended or maybe they don’t, but I can tackle most anything for 10 days. Longer than that? I’ll just become disheartened and feel like a failure, a self-defeating prophesy for sure.
- Lose weight. And keep it off. Starting tomorrow (January 4th), which would have been my 24th wedding anniversary, I will start the Fast Track Detox Diet (10 days per Ann Louise Gittleman). I chose this date as it seems far enough out from the holiday excesses (and all the amazing food I prepared and have been polishing off) to hunker down and stick to a 10-day diet plan. I know this is a recurring theme on my blog and I never seem able to conquer this particular demon. That said, I know my weight is impacting my general happiness—not because of others finding me attractive, but—because I don’t feel good about myself. It’s nearly impossible to accomplish anything from a place of self-loathing. I know for a fact that I won’t be “happier” if I’m 50 pounds lighter (BTDT, have the size 8 jeans to prove it!), but I will move with less stress to my joints that are starting to feel like those of a 50-year-old. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail in a few years, and I need to be in excellent shape to do that.
- Do yoga and meditation daily. As noted, I’ve been able to do this over the holidays, but this has to be a routine that sticks going forward. Ideally, this would mean getting up no later than 4:30 AM. I am a morning person, but my natural wake-up time is typically anywhere from 5 to 7 AM (with an alarm it’s never later than 6, but even on weekends or nights when I was up past midnight, I just cannot sleep past 7 AM). Once I have this routine established, I hope to bring in a second meditation every day (baby steps, people!). It may take six months, it may take a year. I’m looking at the long game here.
- Post to each of my two main blogs once per week: I am getting much better with this main laissez faire blog where I can literally pontificate on anything from my kids to my television viewing habits to my sex life, but I have really neglected my bread-and-butter (or beer-and-bucks) site these past few months. A lot of that stems from working in beer for pay elsewhere, but it also is because I just haven’t felt that anything I write or do really matters. I am working on changing my beliefs (or, as Deepak Chopra would say, tapping into my core beliefs that lie beneath all the mountains of shit I currently see as my reality—okay, Deepak wouldn’t say “mountains of shit,” but the thought is the same—and finding my way to more progressive ways of thinking) so that I can accomplish more of my goals.
- See a dentist. I loathe and abhor going to the dentist, but that’s not why I haven’t been to one in more than two years: It’s because I lost my insurance. I need to figure out how to see a dentist before my gums abandon my teeth. I floss and have generally good oral hygiene, but that’s not enough. I have been religious in my consistency in going every six months for a check-up because I know that it’s people who refuse to see the dentist regularly that will pay for it in spades later on. So, I need to go to the local dental school or save up enough money to pay for a check-up outright. Or, you know, find someone who takes my terrible Obamacrap insurance.
- Clear the boards! I have three major projects I have wanted to undertake for the better part of four years: First is my malingering screenplay, which was highly touted by several industry professionals (who then didn’t accept me into film school). I want to write it and have it in the can for submissions to competitions. Second is my malingering beer book, which I need to complete regardless of whether or not anyone will ever publish and/or buy it. The worst part about being a writer is that few people will buy your book, so unless you are with a major publisher chances are you won’t get the book tours and major placement required to make a dent in a very limited market; more and more non-writers are coming into the game (by non-writers I mean they have no training but they hustle and get the gig away from journalists who might be more detailed and in-depth in their coverage), making the competition even more fierce than it was three years (and a half-dozen breweries) ago when I started this book. And finally, I need to take that damn Cicerone test! I am giving beer tours and I aced the NYC Licensed Sightseeing Guide exam (okay, technically it was only a B+, but that still puts me in the top tier of tour guides in the city). I need to augment my resume with this important certification for which I simply have been too busy (read: lazy) to study.
- Lean on friends and establish accountability. I don’t know if it takes a village, but going alone is a recipe for failure. When I had a walking buddy, I would go out at least twice each month for a minimum of 12-miles per walk. This summer when I was finally able to take off some weight (since regained, of course!), I was doing weekly check-ins with my sister. When I had publisher-imposed deadlines, I finished a book (currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon; check it out!). Without an outside influence, I give up or get sidetracked too easily. I know I have to do the work myself, but having a buddy to support me in what I am doing is possibly the difference between achieving what I want to this year and finding myself at another January 1st pondering what the hell happened. Again. I’m currently being accountable to my bff in Pittsburgh as we both try to establish more healthful habits, and I plan to return to regular deadlines with my writing buddy as we both attempt to complete book projects in 2016.
- Do the #52ListsProject. My sister sent me a journal for inspiration called The 52 Lists Project. I honestly had never heard of this book, even though I know about these one-week per year efforts (I tried it myself last year and didn’t get very far through my list). I don’t know that I will bond with that online community, but the lists are evocative and get my inner self thinking again. I’ve shut down a lot emotionally this year, because it’s just been a really tough year. I’m trying to tap in to my goals and dreams and not shut myself down or allow myself to be shut down by the opinions and negativity of others. I ebb and flow here, so the weekly lists may help me keep my head out of the muck as I work towards a greater level of health: mentally, physically and spiritually.
- Be a better mom to my son. This might be the toughest challenge for me, as he recently became a teenager and it’s getting harder and harder to control and/or influence him. I tend to capitulate or just give in. How many times can I tell him to clean his room? When does my breaking point become injurious to our family? But I know that as impossible as he is becoming, I will do him no favors by backing down now. He has so much to learn and accomplish in the few years he has left in his childhood. No one will do the work but him, but as a parent, I am the one to guide him to that reality.
- Reduce my overall debt. I had a goal a few years back to be completely debt free by 50. That won’t happen (barring the odd, random lottery ticket purchase hitting the jackpot). Now, my goal is to be out of debt by the time my son graduates high school (approximately 5.5 years from now). This is one of those huge issues that hangs over me and brings me down, but I do have things I want to do with my life, post-mothering, that will be nearly impossible to undertake if I can’t just walk away. I’ve never been a “declare bankruptcy” kind of person, even though the system is robbing me blind (I’m sure I’ve paid back the actual principal a half-dozen times or more; the recent interest increase by the Fed will slow me down even further). I don’t have a lot of areas where I can cut back my expenses, but there are a few. There are also areas where I could augment my income, say, by writing and pitching more regularly. Regardless, I want to be less in debt in 12 months’ time than I am now (something I somehow managed to do in 2015, largely due to help from family members who kept me afloat when I otherwise would have been tapping into a line of credit). In that regard, I am both privileged and blessed. I won’t take this generosity for granted by spending when I should be doubling down on debt reduction.
So that’s it. And it’s a lot. But I’m off to a good start (despite having a cold) and look forward to revisiting some of these issues as I blog (weekly! it’s #4 above!) in 2016. Happy new year! Happy clean slate!