All is quiet, on New Year’s Day…
I love the quiet of New Year’s Day, the sense of peace as people stay indoors, recovering from their celebrations the night before. This morning dawned grey and misty and blissfully silent in Sydney, and I woke up with the U2 song in my head, which always makes me smile…
And today, after farewelling 2016 last night, it’s time to welcome 2017.
Part of me feels excited at the magic of a new day, and a new year. A new chapter in my life, a new beginning in some ways… Yet part of me knows that we can make any day a new beginning, any day the start of a new year, a new adventure. Last week, next month, the middle of July.
And for much of the world, January 1 isn’t the first day of a new year anyway. For many people, the New Year doesn’t begin for another four weeks, with the new moon on January 28 that ushers in the Chinese Year of the Rooster. In the Eastern Orthodox church, New Year’s Day will be celebrated on January 14. Pagans celebrate the end of one year and the start of the next at Samhain, which falls in early May in the southern hemisphere and early November in the north. For the Romans, the spring equinox marked the first day of their new year, a tradition still marked on the Iranian calendar.
Yet despite all this, there is magic in the turning of the year on January 1, partly because we have imbued the date with such meaning. The feeling of potential and promise swirling in the air around us is palpable, and we can connect with it and use it to fuel our goals and inspire extra commitment to what we want to achieve. After the busyness of Christmas, New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to take stock of our lives, so that on the first day of January we can vow to dream a new dream into being.
For many, New Year’s Day is the day to make resolutions, some small and practical, others grand and dramatic. Stop smoking. Start exercising. Lose weight. Gain skills. Sleep more. Stress less. Quit procrastinating. Begin that oft-mentioned project. Get on top of debt…
Do you make resolutions? And if so, are you one of the eight per cent of people who actually keep them?
Many resolutions are proclaimed just before midnight – then abandoned by midday. Some last a week, or a month. Why is resolve so easily cracked with these promises to ourselves?
Some people make their resolution flippantly, because others are doing it, without thinking about exactly what they will have to do to stick with it. Others make it too big, too unrealistic, too all-or-nothing, then get frustrated when they can’t make it happen quickly and give up. Some make too many resolutions, and end up so overwhelmed that they throw them all out.
For a better chance of sticking with it…
Make it specific and actionable. “Get healthy” is too vague and undefined. “Go to the gym four times a week” or “walk to and from work” or “eat more vegetables daily and save your treats for one night a week” are more doable, and more concrete – and you can measure your progress, which gives a sense of achievement and encourages you to stick with it.
New Year’s can be a great time to make a resolution, because other people are too, and there’s strength in sharing a goal. Yet it can also be easy to give up if other people have too. Be strong enough to keep going even if you’re the only one still on track – and don’t be that person who tries to entice their friend to break theirs to feel better about themselves.
Decide if it’s something you really want to achieve. If so, are you ready to take the steps necessary to make it happen?
Tell your friends, or declare it in some way. I post about my goals – 50,000 words in a month, a new workout program etc – because it makes me feel accountable. I’m stubborn and disciplined enough to stick to it, but knowing I’ve told people I’ll do something certainly adds a little extra bit of motivation. (Not that I believe in motivation, but that’s a topic for another day…)
Be kind to yourself. If you mess up or fall off the wagon, acknowledge it, and begin again.
I’m not a huge fan of resolutions, mostly because I believe any day can be the day to start something new. But I do find the ending of one year and the start of another a potent time to reflect and then look forward, especially as I have a few days off work after Christmas, which gives me time for this. So instead of a resolution per se, I like to write out a list of all the things I will do and the goals I plan to reach in the coming year, then check in on them every month or so to see if I’m on track. I also dislike the pressure of the new year’s variety, and the all-or-nothing nature of them. Things can change. You can change. You may no longer even want to make that resolution stick. Instead you might dream up new things you want to make happen, shift priorities and no longer be attached to what you’d planned, or just not feel the effort is worth the result. Which is fine. Be open to grow and learn and change and set new goals.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, a friend and I did an oracle card reading for the year ahead, pulling a card for each month of 2017. It was fun, and light-hearted, and maybe I’ll remember to re-read each one when that month dawns, and maybe not. More importantly, I spent the days leading up to the new year reflecting on the year just gone, listing and honouring my achievements, and acknowledging the things that weren’t so great and trying to see what I could learn from each of them.
What I didn’t mention in my yearly round-up was just how disappointed I was that for the first time in my writing career, I missed a book deadline. (I hadn’t planned to admit this, but my word for 2017 is brave, so I’m trying to reveal a little more…) I still published two books in 2016 – the hardcover Into the Mists Trilogy Omnibus, which I love, and Into the Mists: A Journal, which is cool too. But I’d planned to have Into the Storm finished by September, and it didn’t happen. There are reasons/excuses – I had to do a lot of extra days at the magazines, the Omnibus took a LOT longer than I expected (like, several months instead of a few weeks), and the event I’d planned to launch it at turned me down, so the pressure was relaxed… But this year I’m planning at least three releases, so it will all balance out 🙂
So what does my 2017 look like?
It will be an interesting year, because I have four books half written and ready to be finished – and because at the end of March my day job comes to an end, after almost eight years and around 55 magazines a year, as the publisher is closing down all the Kids Mags. It will be strange, in a good way, to have more time to write, but I’m a teensy bit nervous about having no pay cheque! I’ll receive a small redundancy though, so I’m going to spend a few months focusing on my books – writing like mad, and continuing the publishing/marketing course I’m doing.
So for the first three months of 2017, I will still be at the magazines three days a week, and also working like crazy on my next book, Into the Storm, which is almost done. I’d love to have it finished for the Books by the Bridge event on February 18.
I also plan to:
Finish the next Into the Mists Chronicle in time for the Mind Body Spirit Festival at the end of May – April’s Camp NaNoWriMo will coincide with me finishing at work, so it will be an excitingly creative and productive month.
Then I want to finish the third Chronicle – Rose’s story, Out of the Shadows. It’s an epic tale, and a little daunting, because I want to do her justice, but I’m excited that I’ll be able to tie it all up with the story of the wise and inspiring priestess.
And once that one is out there, I have a final Into the Mists book to write, a little different from all the rest…
Events-wise, the year just gone had some amazing ones – Sydney’s Mind Body Spirit Festival, where I launched the Into the Mists Trilogy and Into the Mists: A Journal, plus Supanova in Sydney, as well as, for the first time, Supanova in Perth. But there were disappointments too. Despite them using a photo of Selina’s and my shared stand from 2015 on their website, Comic-Con turned us down, and Book Expo was cancelled just a couple of days before kick-off…
But onwards and upwards! So far for 2017, I have a few events locked in, and there will be more to announce soon…
Books by the Bridge, an author signing event at Luna Park Sydney on February 18, where I’ll be sharing a table with the gorgeous Selina Fenech. Our fellow Story Queens authors K. A. Last, Lauren K. McKellar and Stacey Nash will be there too! For tickets and details, booksbythebridgesydney.com.
On a personal level, I’ll continue working out every day – I’m halfway through Jillian Michaels’s Body Revolution, then will probably do another BodyPump/BodyCombat hybrid for a while.
I’ll continue doing the publishing/marketing course I’ve just begun, and focus more of my time on the things I’ve always skipped cos they’re too hard – creating a mailing list and sending out newsletters, blogging a little more, a couple of joint projects with other authors. And I’m doing a second wordpress course in January, and looking into a few other courses – upskilling seems to be a big aim of this year…
I want to read more books, and catch-up with friends a little more…
And by the end of the year, I’ll have started a brand new writing project. Exciting!
What are your goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments…
I wish you all a magical, inspired, fulfilling 2017, and in the words of Neil Gaiman, make lots of mistakes 🙂
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work, or family, or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
― Neil Gaiman