Should You Make New Year’s Resolutions? Here's My Plan

Posted: Jan 04 2015

-By Barbara Alvarez
Wow, 2014 came and left in a hurry! Just yesterday, it feels like you were putting the Christmas decorations away and here we are, staring 2015 right in the eyes. Ay, yi, yi, the older we get, the faster the years seem to pass. No me gusta. I want time to slow down so I can savor, think, plan and carry out my dreams.

I have so much I want to do: Lose some weight, learn to make beautiful, beaded jewelry, become a grandma and write the Next Big Novel. I have to work – hard – all while I’m struggling to get everything done.

Do I make resolutions any more? Not really. There’s no sitting down with a pen and notepad, thinking up virtuous resolutions to make as I dream of a new, better Barbara. You may believe and do something different. That’s fine. If making resolutions and using them to transform yourself helps you become a better person, then keep it up! You’re better than me! Truthfully, after about five or six weeks of working to change bad habits and take on new ones, I’m ready to give up.

Have you ever heard that, to give up a bad habit or practice, you have to replace it with something good? It’s true. Would you try to stop smoking without having something ready to fill the time (and your hands) with that habit and cigarette? Quitting smoking is probably the hardest thing someone can try to do. Why? Because the habit is physical and psychological. This means you’re struggling, not only with the physical need for a cigarette and that nicotine, you’re also struggling with the psychological crutch those cigarettes represent.

That’s why, when I contemplate where I am today and where I want to be in the foreseeable future, I choose reasonable goals – those that mean I need to stretch just a little outside my comfort zone. After all, I’m more likely to succeed at publishing a new book if I set a goal of writing 500 words a day, rather than, say, 5,000. If I want to lose weight (which I do), I’m going to be more successful in setting mini-goals: I’ll set my first goal to lose five pounds and go to the gym three days a week. That’s much easier than deciding to go for the whole ball of fat all at one time. (No, I am not going to reveal how much I need to lose!) When it comes to going to my workouts, starting with three days a week is much easier than saying “I’m going to hit the treadmill and machines five (or seven) days a week, no matter what!”

I have a little bit of an advantage here. I am an independent contractor. I write five days a week, from my home. I have several clients. It’s been difficult for the past couple months because some of those clients have pulled unexpected moves that have hurt me financially. In response, I changed my business plan and practices and have begun looking for grant writing clients. I’m also looking for local clients I can meet face-to-face.

Every year, I look at what I have accomplished on my business plan. If I am still working to achieve a goal from this year’s plan, I add that to next year’s business plan. I also add new goals so my business and I are growing at all times.

Once I have a workable business plan that requires me to stretch my writing muscles just beyond my comfort area, I finalize and print it out. 

For me, my business plan helps me as a writer and as a person. It is my upcoming year’s set of resolutions, because I include practices that mean I need to improve my health practices as well as grow my business. (Writing is such a personal thing. Even if I’m writing 100 product descriptions for a faceless client, I put so much of me into each one. It’s the same with my fiction writing or grant application writing. Everything has to be perfect. Yo soy escritora. I am a writer.)

In my book, New Year's resolutions aren't for everyone, however setting up a plan, no matter how informal can be a benefit to the start of a great new year!

-Barbara Alvarez

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