I don't make New Year's resolutions. I never got into the habit of making (or breaking) them and don't plan on starting now. Instead, I like to make Big Life Goals and then take the necessary steps to make those dreams happen. Warning: this is not an easy process.
It's so much easier to let dreams and wishes slip into "someday" -- a vague, golden paradise in time and space that exists to coddle us into being content that while we aren't really doing anything about those ideas right now, they will be waiting for us just around the calendar corner when we have the time/energy/brain space to get to them. It is a pretty lure, but don't fall for it: it is a lie. There is no cake.
Here's the secret: Bake your own!
"What meanest thou?!" I hear the cry as the bubble bursts. What meanest me is that I find it far more effective, albeit far more scary and confronting and demanding, to actually plan for Big Things to Happen and then make them happen. But these can't be monthly goals or even yearly goals, those are too close and too immediate. I balk. Rather, it's better to fool the brain with those "someday" impulses by picking a completely ludicrous, far-away date and then logically pacing yourself to meet them, traveling back through time to the more immediate today. (If you ninja your brain quiet enough, it'll never sees this coming.)
For example, my husband and I began our marriage by taking up the challenge to paint our life out as big as we could. We took a fat black notebook and came up with our crazy ideas, marching our Dream Life out to 2025 in areas like Home, Work, Family, Friends & Travel. We made up *huge* stories about what our house would be like, the kinds of parties we'd throw, the countries we'd visit, the careers we would invent for ourselves and wrote them as specifically as possible, with dates. (You can imagine the closer we got to the present how the grumbling and petty fights began. This is what happens when you confront yourself with dreams. You get over it & then eat cookies.) We then listed what steps we'd need to take backwards, allowing that if these Big Goals would be true in 2025, then what would life look like in 2015? 2010? 2005? 2003? 2001? Next year? Six months from now? Three months from now? Next month? Next week? Tomorrow?
This was back in 1999.
Crazy, huh? Well, we didn't get the dog we wanted after we left the apartment (we have two cats) and I didn't make a College Preparatory education program (I got published, an even BIGGER life dream) and my husband didn't expand his business (it's the economy, you know, but he stayed in business that he made himself for over 15 years now!) but it's a little eerie how many of our other life goals came true down to the details including building our dream house, the dates when our children were born, a Paris vacation we promised ourselves, throwing major theme parties for friends we hadn't made yet, and getting to bring my parents to Disney to witness their grandchildren experiencing the magic for the first time.
And, here's the thing: if when we don't make our goals, being "close" is that much closer than not doing anything at all, leaving that hope for "someday", which invariably never comes. Good intentions are great, but having a big, fat, beautiful Plan is *so* much better!
So this week, Better Than Boyfriend & I sat down for our yearly check-in with Ye Olde Black Book of Awesome Lifehood to see how we're doing and being on the cusp of mighty changes that no one could have foreseen, we have some major decisions to make. Luckily, we're making them together, hand in hand, and facing the future with our eyes on the prize(s), but since I barely ever dreamed that I'd *finally* be a published author, I'm keeping Neil Gaiman's advice close to my heart: his wish that we Make Big Mistakes as well as a commitment to pushing my own envelope out of my comfort zone. To that end, I'd like to
- Write the book that I am supposed to write, the one that calls me to step up and do it
- Meet authors who I admire in-person to thank them for their generosity, graciousness, savvy or just because I'm a rabid fangirl at heart and *really* like their books
- Do something for the world, something that can change it for the better in a tangible way
- Stop the roller coaster ride in my head and hug my family more
So while those aren't resolutions per se, these are steps on my way to greatness and a better life than even the one we dreamed up over a decade ago. Life is an adventure: let's dream BIG!