Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Years' Resolutions: The Butt-kicking Fear Edition

So it's that New Years' Resolutions time of year again. I wrote what I thought was probably my definitive post on my New Years' thoughts last year right here but folks have been asking about what I think this year. So I'm gonna say it again.

I'm a big believer in resolutions. Especially when you call them "goals" and remove all of from your list that look like this "be healthy!" "be nicer!" "get thinner!" "be smarter!" Because statistically that's what most resolutions look like and statistically, those resolutions suck. No one sticks to them. And this is why.

How nice are we talking? Is your resolution finished when you're this nice?

Or is it done when you're this nice?

Or is your resolution done when you're this nice?*

And how, pray tell, would you know if you were that nice?

*My niceness scale was established in order of people least likely to flip someone the bird.

The point is that an ill-defined resolution is worse than no resolution at all, because when you look back at yourself in 2012 and say, wow, I'm just as big of a creep as I was in 2011, you're going to feel guilty. If, however, you had made your resolution: "volunteer 4 hours at a children's hospital," you would be 100% less creepy than you were in 2011. You might say -- "hey, but that's not very much niceness." Yes, but it's guaranteed niceness. Quantifiable niceness. Which means you're far more likely to go out and do it. It's better to have small, specific resolutions. Instead of "shine like a grail shaped beacon of hope in 2011" which will accomplish nothing.

But I have said this before. Other things I have said before include: do not make your resolutions based upon other people. For instance "get published" would be a bad resolution, because it relies on someone else saying "yes" for you to cross it off your list. I also yelled at my sister for putting "teach brother how to cook." Because it requires said brother's participation in order to make it work. This works well if brother also has "get taught to cook by sister" on his goals but if not . . . yeah. Ix-nay on the class participation in resolutions. It should be all about you, baby. The only way that I like joint resolutions is if there is either mutual resolution making, as mentioned before, or if it's a "if . . . then" resolution. Last year I had "if Linger goes to #1, buy a piano." And the year before I had "if my UK rights sell before March, go to the UK in fall." But other than that, I'd keep 'em about you.


Other, other things that I believe: resolutions should be within your grasp or just slightly out of it -- and what is in your grasp depends on who and where you are. No point making a resolution saying "make a wildly ambitious and CGI driven movie spectacle that costs $500 million" unless you're James Cameron, for instance. But that's not to say that what shouldn't be on your list this year shouldn't be on your list next year. If you make a wildly ambitious and CGI driven movie spectacle that cost $250 million this year, then the $500 mil might be on the list for 2012.

I'm also against putting things on your list that you feel that you should do. Duty is a crappy motivator unless you're in a Russell Crowe movie. Resolutions are a really specific sort of goal, I think, that make you a happier/ better/ more awesome person. They should not include "do laundry."

Which I think brings me to my one thing that I haven't said before but I'm gonna say now. It's come to my attention that fear is a big factor in people's lives. Fear of failure. Fear of looking silly. Fear of disappointing people. Fear of wasting money. Fear of wasting time. Now I know that I have an underdeveloped sense of fear myself (my personal motto is "drive it like you stole it") but still, this seems like a terrible reason to not do something. I mean, unless you're a proponent of reincarnation**, you only get to go around once, and when you get to the end, do you really want to look back and say "I would've done that, but I have a fear of crowds."

**even if you are a proponent of reincarnation, there's a good chance that you won't have the ability to go to that Goo Goo Dolls concert you wanted to when you come back as a squirrel in Sri Lanka.

Recently someone told me they had a morbid fear of flying*** (and I'm afraid that they're going to know who they are when they read this) and so they couldn't go on an Awesome Trip I Have Planned For Several Authors and I was pretty much horrified. It's not that I don't understand the fear of flying - I mean, basically it's a few hundred thousand parts soaring in formation -- but it's also very easy to get around.  You just get on the plane. And if you don't . . . your world shrinks to the size of your car's gas tank? That's what we do when we let fear tell us what we're doing or trying. Every time you make a decision or refuse to make a decision based on fear, that's a possibility that is dead in the water. It's a slightly shrunken world. It's someone who you'll never be.

***Also, statistically, you're more likely to die in a tsunami than at the hands of United Airlines. Just saying.


 So. That said, here's my list for this year:

1. Read an entire novel in GERMAN (specifically SPLITTERHERZ).
2. Teach my sister how to drive a stick shift (and yes, "be taught to drive a stick shift" is on hers)
3. Buy a house.
4. Record at least 6 songs.
5. Go trail-riding in May.
6. Adapt Secret Novel to a screenplay.
7. Go to an art workshop.
8. Perfect November Cakes (a recipe from Secret Novel)
9. Buy a Maggie outfit for driving tour this summer.
10. Memorize Für Elise.

I'm buoyed by my success of last year's resolutions. How about you guys?


Now, if you excuse me, I have a screenplay to write.
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