It’s a new year. Maybe you’ve set up a new planner. Maybe you’ve been thinking about goals for your business. Maybe you’d like this to be the year that you finally finish that novel, find the time to go for more walks, meditate, read more books, or learn a new skill.
Or maybe you’re thinking that making plans is daft, because you struggle to stick to schedules and never met a goal you couldn’t miss, and—hey, doom scrolling much? Sure, why not. I mean, it’s been a year (or ten…).
Listen, I hear you. I know only too well about best-laid plans…you read the latest productivity hack, download a snappy new habit tracker, set up schedules, make lists of your goals…
But then nothing goes according to plan and you’re left feeling like a failure.
So, what to do?
After years of setting and failing to follow through on countless writing schedules, creating fancy new exercise plans, and generally setting unrealistic/unattainable goals, I realised that I was trying to fit my life into the plan when what I needed to do was fit the plan into my life.
So how do you turn things around? How do you make plans that you can stick to?
Before you try a new habit, take some time to get to know yourself. Are you more likely to exercise if you put your workout clothes out the night before?
Are you more likely to finish a project if you work on it first thing in the morning? In the afternoon? What about if you tied it to another activity that you like to do? Don’t be above bribing yourself! Nothing beats a little *reasonable* incentive to help get things done (but maybe don’t do the the one chocolate chip per math problem thing with your kids unless you want them pinging about like t-i-double-guh-urrs).
Ahem…where was I?…
Finally, if you’re setting goals or trying to build new habits, keep it simple! Take that first step and then decide what comes next. You don’t have to have all the answers now. Just have an idea of where you want to go and take a step that will point you in that direction.
Does it take effort, setting goals and building habits? Absolutely. Will things work the way you want them to every day? Not a chance. But life is not about perfection, it’s about being flexible, being kind to yourself, and ultimately, showing up for yourself every day.
Start with baby steps. One thing at a time. And don’t be afraid to abandon a plan that isn’t working. Think of it more like a dance than a march.
Case in point? This very blog. In 2021, I planned to blog every week. I had a beautiful schedule–colour-coded and everything. But the blogs I wrote were rambling and took far too long to write (not to mention the time to source photos, create hyperlinks, set up social media sharing).
So I sat down with a notepad and thought about what I wanted the blog to be. Which was more important: long posts or regular posts? The answer was regular posts. So I created a new format for my book reviews, which will hopefully keep them consistent and more straightforward, and set myself a shorter word-count. My goal for #TheBookshelf in 2022 is to share weekly snapshots of what I’ve been reading, tips for writers and editors, or new things I’ve learned.
So, here’s to 2022. It’s been a brutal two years, but we got this. In this new year, be kind to yourself and others, learn something new, and above all, never lose your wonder!