New Year's Resolutions.

I don't like them. I don't make them. Sometimes I tell a (bad/obvious) joke that years ago I made a New Year's resolution to not make any resolutions, and I failed. I do make goals, what I want to achieve on both a measurable and a subjective level. Last year I made a handful of goals. I achieved almost all of them, at least the objective ones.

But there is always room for self-improvement. Every year around this time, people across the country... nay, people around the world, will begin to make critical self-assessments, lists of what they believe they can improve, how they want to look, how the new year is going to be different for them, how everything is finally going to change, with a capital C. They'll include things like "lose 15 pounds", "start reading more", "call my parents more often", "exercise more often and maybe run a 5K or a marathon."

I'm calling bullshit.
Everyone making New Year's Resolutions now and waiting until the New Year to start them is going to fail.

I'm not trying to be negative. I'm just trying to slap you all across your self-defeating faces (via this little read blog). If you wait until the New Year to start the things you want to change about yourself now, you're going to fail. And here's why: you don't really mean it. You're going through the motions. If you really wanted to change these things about yourself, you wouldn't wait a few weeks. You'd start now.

It's a simple dictum: if you want to do something, if you want something to change, do it now! By putting it all off until a specified date, you aren't fully engaging in your goals or yourself. You're setting yourself up for failure. For example: "I know I really want to know what all the constellations are and I know it's mid-November and I have a high-speed internet access and I live in the countryside where the city lights don't ruin the night sky and that I'm sitting here watching youtube videos of people getting hit in the nuts or walking into poles, but I think that should be my New Year's Resolution. To learn the constellations." This person (and I've been this person before) is stupid. They could easily achieve this: go online to see which stars are prominent in their hemisphere at that time of year, then go outside to see if they can spot them. Are they going to do this? No, or they would have done so already.

We make resolutions so we can have other people hold us accountable, because we're afraid of holding ourselves accountable. We think that our friends are going to reinforce our lack of will and discipline. They aren't. That doesn't make our friends bad people or that they aren't emotionally invested or excited in seeing you reach your goals. It means that they have their own shit going on and will always (and rightfully so, I may add) take care of their stuff first.

I have created new goals, some measurable, some not. Some are below.

- Qualify for the Boston marathon.
- Get two more long stories (over 3000 words) published.
- Read Virginia Woolf (I've always meant to) and Gravity's Rainbow. (I didn't say understand Gravity's Rainbow; just to read it.)
- Be more honest and direct with people.
- Stop making lists.

What are some of your goals?

As always, thank you.

A little over a year ago, I posted my reading list for the year 2010. I did not make it through all those books. I did not even make through ten percent of those books. However, this is not a post about my failure to adhere to my reading list, or any list for that matter. But it did get me to thinking about the nature of goals and lists. Trying to read every book on our reading lists is a near-futile act: new books are going to constantly pop up that we are going to want to read.
Despite this reality, however, I still have a to-read list for the year 2011, which includes most of the holdovers from last year. And I will address that reading list (plus the nature of trying to choose what to read next) on a future post (perhaps the next one).
I have created a goals list for the year 2011, consisting of mostly writing, reading, and running goals, and that I share with you below.

1. To have a total of at least 10-12 stories published. I am presently awaiting publication of my 6th story; 4-6 to go.
2. Submit at least one story a week for publication.
3. Complete a dozen new stories, including three longer ones that have been nagging at me for quite some time.
4. Run a half-marathon, in preparation for running an actual marathon in 2012. (side question: should I also create a marathon training blog/online journal?)
5. Read 104 books: 2 books per week. This has since been modified to 52: one book per week.
6. At least two blog posts per week.
7. Complete and write critical reviews and interviews with Jim Shepard, Steve Almond, and Dan Chaon (authors I have contacted in the past who agreed to an online interview format.)
8. Read about half of the books from my 2010 reading list.
9. To write something every day. Lydia Davis said in an interview in Bomb Magazine: "In the meantime, I started doing these very short stories to break myself out of the rut of not writing or resisting writing. I told myself: You have to write two tiny stories every day. It didn’t matter how silly they were, I just had to finish two one-paragraph stories." I feel that same way. But, when writing those silly one-paragraph stories, I can at least say I'm writing.

What are your goals for 2011? How do you plan to reach them?