During this arbitrary point in the orbit of the Earth around the sun, people in Western culture and elsewhere like to make all sorts of promises to themselves that they’re not going to keep. I’m going to be a better person, goddammit! Good luck with that. I’ve done it, too. Many times.
One of the reasons we do this is because New Years isn’t about looking forward. Not really. It’s about looking back… and looking back, it’s easy to forget the good. And so we look back and see the year as a failure. We see the vague promises of “better” that we wanted, and we haven’t gotten them.
Sure, I’m in a loft apartment in an awesome neighborhood of a great city, I have the most fun job I’ve ever had in my life, and I quit smoking and recorded a bunch of original songs, but that all means nothing if the webcomic I started two years ago fizzled after a few short months, right? Where are the chiseled abs I was going to sculpt, why am I still unable to play the piano, why didn’t I dress up for Halloween or make a gingerbread house at Christmas?
And so we decide we are failures.
But there is a better question: Why are our goals for the new year so A) vague, and B) broad? How do you know if you’ve really achieved them? Or achieved them enough?
I’m done playing that game. I’m done pretending to give certain fucks every January. Done.
Instead, I’m setting goals. I’m giving most of them dates. And I am making them simple. Many are things I’ve done before, many are things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. And many are just ideas that I’ve had.
- I will attend the songwriter discussion that I joined a MeetUp group for, before the end of January.
- I will make cookies and bring them to work for Valentine’s Day.
- For my 30th birthday, I will go and play pub trivia somewhere at the very least, and within a week I will get my second tattoo.
- On St. Patrick’s Day, I will make an Irish cheesecake recipe that I have had for years, but have never gotten around to making.
- I will paint eggs for Easter.
- Between March and May, I will fly a kite in Piedmont Park at least once.
- I will complete no less than three ten-mile runs.
- Before the end of September, I will take my hammock to the park and laze around in it.
- I will carve a pumpkin and dress up for Halloween, and go out. Even if I have no one to go with.
- I will make broccoli casserole on Thanksgiving.
- I will decorate my apartment for Christmas.
- I will make cheesecake for Christmas dinner.
- I will send birthday cards to my family and friends. (okay, maybe not ALL of them. But at least 10).
Notice that all of these goals are specific to things that I can do. I didn’t include things like “lose weight” or “fall in love” because those are out of my control (and a little cliche if you ask me). Maybe no one will like the cookies I bring to work? Who cares? My goal is accomplished whether they like them or not. Maybe I won’t be able to get the kite off the ground, or will trip and limp the last five miles of one of my runs. I’m not setting any goals for the quality. It’s just time to start doing, and stop wishing I’d done.
But in any case, these are just goals, not a resolution. What is my resolution?
My resolution for 2014 is this: If I complete everything on this list, I refuse to let myself see 2014 as a failure.
Maybe I’ll do more. I certainly hope I do, but if I do these, I have accomplished something. And when I inevitably ring in the new year in New Orleans at that big party where Cowboy Mouth plays every year (yeah, keep dreaming), then I will be able to look back with pride. Because I will have kept my goals. And in keeping my goals, I will have kept my resolution.
Now it’s your turn:
What are your attainable goals? The goals that are within your control, that don’t depend on other people? How are you going to achieve them?