“To dream of the person you would like to be is to waste the person you are.”
– Sholem Asch (1880-1957) Yiddish novelist and dramatist
I hate New Year’s resolutions. I stopped making them several years ago because I rarely kept any of them and more often used them to punish myself for all the things I hadn’t done.
This year, instead of resolving, I’ve taken an inventory of 2004. First, I took out a blank sheet of paper and listed every class I taught, every writer I coached, and all the work I did on this newsletter and my website as well as any other teaching activity I could recall. Then I wrote down all the writing things I’d done. I listed all the workshops I’d attended, the projects I’d started (whether I completed them or not), all the books I’d read, and all the notebooks I’d filled. I didn’t look at what I didn’t do. I only looked at what I did. Then I took a moment to give myself credit for every single thing.
Once I’d finished gloating about how wonderful I was in 2004, I began to ask myself what worked to make 2004 a success. Was the the structure I’d set up for myself serving me? If so, how? How was I spending my precious writing time? Was I choosing the right groups to write with? Was I letting myself write about the things that scared me? Was I writing at a good time of day for me? Was I wasting time in ways I could change? Where was I getting distracted, letting myself be tossed away? What was I willing to do to make writing a bigger reality in 2005?
And now that I’m done, I have a plan. It only involves a minor tweaking of my schedule. It does not include promises to myself that I cannot and will not keep. And I have a new level of awareness of what works for me. Most importantly, this plan came from the inside, from my gut, from that part of myself that knows what I can and cannot handle. It did not come from the outside, from my brain which is constantly trying to impose structures in a rational, logical (read critical) way by imposing external standards on myself. This plan is organic and fits me like my favorite pair of well-worn jeans.
If New Year’s resolutions leave you kicking yourself in the head, tear them up! Look back at 2004, not to chastize yourself for any failures, but to celebrate what you did. Take a moment to appreciate those things. Then ask yourself what worked, what didn’t, and what you are willing to do to make 2005 different. Let it come from the inside, from the part of you that knows you want to write, but also knows you have a life. Listen. The muse is waiting.
Nita(hearing voices again)Sweeney
(c) 2005 by Nita Sweeney