Friday, January 4, 2013

Resolve This

By JccKeith

Here it is a new year and I am, as usual, without any New Year’s Resolutions.  Far be it from me to hinder anyone else who wishes to make them or offer any discouragement.  I simply don’t make them.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the word resolution and I like the word resolve.  Resolve means to make a decision, to determine to do something.  I suppose I just have a problem with the whole idea of making resolutions, resolving to do some things because one year has ended and another has begun.

I suppose you could say I don’t really live my life that way.  I try not to see things in larger pictures like years or decades or terms.  I do condone the actions of others who make five year and ten year life goals.  Congratulations to them for their foresight and determination.  I am not that kind of person. 

I have, in the past, attempted to set such goals.  I had a very clear idea, when I was a teenager, of where I wanted to be in five years after high school and in ten years.  I had a clear idea of how I wanted to live my life.  I discovered that my plans meant absolutely nothing once I stepped outside of the small town in which I grew up and out into the much bigger world.  There were so many variables and possibilities that I had been unaware of and oblivious to that my five and ten year plans were inadequate.

I have, over the course of thirty five years, realized that people enter my life and people leave and most of the time, I have little control over when that happens.  Life begins and life ends, it is a fact that is out of my control.  Trying to micromanage every aspect of my life is tedious, time consuming and a complete waste of effort.  Life is at best, only moderately predictable.  I can manage money and I can save a certain amount for any unforeseen problems that arise or accidents or whatever.  I can manage my time and my schedule and my kids’ schedules.  I can plan out a week’s worth of meals and necessary grocery lists.

I am much more adept at setting short term goals than I am at maintaining a steady course toward long term goals.  Steady courses, in my personal opinion, are often long and boring.  How dull would life be if I only held fast to the set course?  I would never take the path less traveled, never take that detour, never take the scenic route and I would miss out on all of the pleasant side effects of straying from the path.  One such pleasant side effect was landing here on this site.

I have always wanted to be a writer.  All my life, it was one of those things always in the back of my mind, something I wanted to do.  I just never did anything towards that idea other than write stories in my spare time.  I love to write, I just had no idea of how to go about doing anything about it other than just writing. 

It wasn’t until I got involved with this site that I gained any motivation towards developing a platform.  I had read about it in Writer’s Digest.  I had considered it when I opened a Facebook account.  I just hadn’t actually written anything in any public format until this site.  After I started writing here, I made a Twitter account.  I was astounded to find that Twitter was loaded with independent authors who were happy to follow anyone who followed them.  Twitter is very author friendly.  I also made a Google+ account and was surprised to find that just like Twitter, it is author friendly as well.  Social media in general is very author friendly. 

For me, short term goals are much more efficient and achievable.  I’m not opposed to delayed gratification but I need the occasional immediate reward.  It may sound silly but I smile whenever someone retweets one of my tweets.  I smile when someone +1s my post.  It is validation that people are in fact reading what I post.

Making grand, sweeping New Year’s Resolutions like “I will be a better person” seems unachievable.  At the end of the year, I don’t see any way to determine whether I have reached my goal.  I also don’t want to burden myself with such obscure goals.  Being a better person is something, I believe, is achieved on a daily basis.  You either do the right thing or you don’t. You are either a good person or you aren’t.  Being better at something is just impossible.  You either determine to continue your efforts towards something or you cease to try.  Trying in and of itself is the act of being better at something.

I received the Rosetta Stone course to learn Spanish for a present this year.  If I learn one word or phrase, then technically, I have become better at Spanish than I was.  My goal then, is to learn Spanish, to speak it fluently.  I define success at that goal as being able to speak to and understand my Spanish speaking neighbors.  I would also like to learn fluency in German, Italian, Japanese, and French.  Unfortunately, I do not forsee those as achievable goals any time soon, so I do not make them resolutions or even goals for now.

My goals, for the current time, with no set end date, are to reach 1,000 followers on Twitter.  Towards achieving that goal, I post things as much as possible on Twitter and I check my gmail account frequently and follow anyone who follows me.  I work towards the goal on a daily basis.

I also have the goal, for the current time, of finishing my favorite novel in progress.  It does not currently have a title.  I was going to simply call it novel in progress but the acronym for that would be NIP so I decided against that.  I can’t say why I haven’t thought of a title or why it doesn’t bother me.  Normally, I have a title well in advance of actually writing the story.  In this case, I had the characters in mind before I started writing.  The characters of this story were in my head long before the story even began to take form.

But alas, I am me.  I don’t expect anyone else to abstain from New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t expect anyone else to live their lives without firm long term goals.  I don’t expect anyone else to set only short term goals.  I am only stating here my choices and my preference for short term goals.  If it makes anyone feel any better, I do have some long term goals, or fail safes or whatever you want to call them. I, like most people, have 401Ks and other retirement investment accounts.  I just refuse to call them ‘goals.’  Goals to me are things that are achievable, that can be readily quantified and have an end point. 

Retirement plans are not goals, they are ‘in case ofs’ or ‘nets.’   I don’t have any age or point at which I plan to use them.  Yes, when I opened them, I had to give my financial advisor an age at which I wanted to retire to further set my initiatives.  I did, in fact, give him an age.  I will not, however, give you that age.  I plan to write until I cannot do so anymore.  I have no age at which I plan for that to occur.

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