What’s difficult is that right now, I’m not sure if I still have my 2008 goals on record anywhere. See, my computer crashed this past year, causing Cassie and I to lose some data — so I’m crossing my fingers as I search for a backup on my thumb drive.
Humorously, I have a backup of my 2007 Goals and Resolutions, but there’s no trace of my 2008 Goals and Resolutions. In hindsight, it would have been wise to print a hard copy, because now I must recall the goals from memory, which sucks.
It’s easy to forget exactly what you were thinking about over a year ago. Although a year isn’t a long time, it’s still enough time to make some significant progress towards a goal, and it’s definitely enough time to regret having wasted. Without a definite record of what I set out to accomplish this year, I’m forced to fudge it.
This is why I love writing. When you commit your thoughts to paper, you create history. There will undoubtedly be a time in the future where you come back to those words and become surprised. For example, I’ll pick a random journal entry from my college years and I bet I’ll be surprised by what it says:
NOVEMBER 20 2002 – 5:45am
my life is generally based around meeting deadlines. thanks to all the obligatory responsibilities i’m occupied with, i rarely find time for things i’m interested in.
why was i constructed to give high importance to unimportant things?
when can i live?
It surprises me because that’s something I wrote a little over six years ago, and it still applies to my life today. I was expecting to read something that didn’t sound very much like me at all, and yet there I am — clearly wanting more out of my life, even at age 20.
When I think back to those times now, I remember college being practically paradise — I was around people my age all the time, so socializing was easy. I didn’t have to worry about money, because I was at school under scholarship. I worked only two days a week, and my paycheck was reserved exclusively for poker buy-ins and other entertainment.
In other words, I only remember the good things about that time in my life — and I’ve forgotten most of the bad things. It’s only evident that college was less than paradise when I find proof of discontent in my journal entries.
What I’m trying to say is that I know that I’ll leave out some of my 2008 goals in the list to follow, because I’ve plain forgotten what they were. In spite of this, I believe it’s best to write out what I can remember — because a few years down the road, I’ll be grateful to at least have that.
2008 Goals and Resolutions
1. Write a Manuscript / Fiction Novel / Long Story That Actually Ends
Every time I’ve ever tried to write fiction, I’ve given up before the story was finished. This year was no different. I started off strong with the first 14 (short) chapters that I published in Fail the First Time, but as the year went on my plan for “just two pages, front and back” fell apart. It’s a shame because writing fiction was a lot of fun. Even I didn’t know where the story was going, so I was curious to see what would happen to the characters I created. Whenever I was deep in the creative writing process, I literally felt like I was running alongside Sam and Carla, furiously writing down all they did as they were doing it.
The things that prevented me from completing this goal were time commitment and doubt. It became hard to dedicate one or two hours to writing each day when real life obligations trumped storytelling. I’d also get discouraged when I felt like the choices I made with the story felt uninteresting, unrealistic, or too predictable.
It was also challenging to divide my writing time into fiction and blogging. One would always steal away my creative energy, leaving the other “unfinished” for the day. If I skipped writing fiction one day to publish a new LifeReboot article, I’d try to make up for it the following day and write four pages. The next day I’d feel drained, and write nothing at all. Once I fell into the habit of not writing in my manuscript, it became easier to continue to write nothing. A few months down the road my manuscript ended up on top of a filing cabinet in my closet, and that’s where it stayed for the rest of the year.
2. Get a Job, Even if only to Help Pay the Bills
At the end of 2007, I remember telling myself “Alright, you’ve tried earning a living as a writer for a year. You earned $3000, which is practically nothing — so it’s time to find a day job.” I had no idea that actually finding a job would prove so difficult.
My six months of hardcore job hunting was a trying time. I was met with extended periods of frustration because I was certain that anyone who hired me would not be disappointed — but I was still being turned down left and right. Whenever a job lead turned into a dead end I was left feeling rejected, sad, and discouraged.
In the end, I found something decent. I admit that it’s not perfect, but nothing is — (and if you want to search for the perfect job, expect to search forever.) Truth is, I’ve found a job where my co-workers are cool, the pay is considerably better than most anything else I’ve seen in this economic crisis, and the workday flies by due to the constant workload. Although what I’m doing may not be what I want to do forever, it’s what I have to do right now to make ends meet. The way I see it: It’s not so bad, and things could always be worse. Consequently, I feel like I have no reason to complain.
3. Play Piano
This is a continuation of the previous year’s goal to accomplish the same thing. In 2008 I invested in a better instrument, an 88-weighted-key used electric piano that cost $300. I don’t like spending a lot of money on myself, especially on things I can live without, so it was out of character to buy it — but I felt like it was an investment in happiness.
When I play the piano, I feel good. I’m not wonderful at it, but I’m not awful either. Eventually, I would love to master the piano by being able to sight-read music, and memorize challenging pieces that could bring people to tears.
Right now, it’s clear that I need to invest in more piano lessons, as well as dedicate more time to developing my musical talents. I believe that I’ve taken a step in the right direction by upgrading the instrument on which I’m learning, and I’m confident that if I stick with it, within the next few years I will push past the amateur level and be able to call myself a musician.
Having written all this, I’m realizing that I’ve learned something important. I’ve stressed that it’s important to Review Your Goals, but I’ve previously taken the stance that goals should be set in advance at the start of the year and reviewed at the end of it. In the two years that I’ve done it this way, I’ve consistently fallen short of the goals that I set.
Perhaps it’s smarter to create goals for yourself, write them down, and then put them somewhere where you’ll see them every day. I believe that if you’re constantly reading over the goals you’ve set to achieve, you’re more likely to put in the hours necessary to accomplish them.
So if you haven’t done so already, I recommend you invest some time into planning what it is you hope to do in 2009. Write out what you want, break large goals down into smaller steps, and then fill up a dayminder, or yearly wall calendar, or whiteboard — anything that you’ll see every day. Check back in a year and share what you managed to accomplish.
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