New You.

New year, new resolutions, new beginnings.

I tend to dust off my CSS skills and site editing skills around this time of year. I put in the time — days’ worth, because I’m a perfectionist about it — and I get my site looking exactly like I want it. I mean, exactly, down to the pixel. Then I make a bunch of sample blog posts, and I upload some photos, and I arrange, crop, edit. When I am satisfied, I just keep reloading my blog page over and over again, marveling at my own handiwork.

After that — before the novelty wears off — I’ll generally write a blog post or two in January. I’ll have the intention of writing regularly throughout the year, but I won’t. Procrastination and and writer’s block, twin friends, will throw up their familiar road blocks — and before long, my website, when it crosses my mind, will elicit a vague feeling of guilt, of familiar disappointment in myself.

It is like this with most New Year’s resolutions. This year, I’m going to write more, I say. I’m going to finish my novel. I’ll finally train for, and run, a full marathon. On January 1, a new year is full of such promise. That’s the seduction of resolutions: we imagine ourselves better, healthier, happier in the new year. Of course I won’t fail; not this time. This year will be different.

Right?

As a self-help obsessive, I’ve read lots of books about transforming your life. (Trust me: too many books! I might have a problem.) I know what the experts say: The best way to keep a New Year’s resolution is to turn that resolution into an achievable, small habit. Baby steps. Here’s a Guardian piece about habits vs. resolutions, and I also recommend Gretchen Rubin‘s book, Better than Before. (If you know anything about Rubin’s system for categorizing personality tendencies in relation to habit formation, I’m a Rebel — the most hopeless case, of course. You can find out about the four tendencies, and take a quiz to find out which tendency you are, here.)

It’s January 1. What do I want for myself in 2018? I want to hike more, and take a multi-day backpacking trip for the first time since before the kids were born. I want to write more — that’s a perpetual resolution. I’d like to journal regularly, work on my snippets of poetry, craft some new short stories, make some progress on the novel rewrite. I want to work harder, get better at my job, continue toward mastery of the discipline in which I teach. I want to learn more than just a few chords on my red ukulele — I’d like to be able to play a whole song! And I want to create more: I have a long list of sewing, knitting and crocheting projects I’d love to start.

It’s a long list. To make progress, I’ll need to find a way to resist my natural inclination to dream big. Tiny steps, little habits, small changes. Wish me luck, friends. I’ll keep you posted.

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