Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Forget resolutions, go for Theme

Maybe you are one of those people who actually succeeds at your New Years resolutions. I'm NOT. 

Resolutions like losing weight, exercising more, writing 1000 words a day (or even 300 words a day) have been miserable failures in past years.

For the past two years, instead of making any resolutions, I followed the suggestion from  My One Word by Rachel Olson, and picked one word as my "theme" for the year.  In 2011 I picked the word "focus". I wanted to focus more on my family, my writing, getting healthy. I utterly failed at it. It's completely ironic. For a year with a theme of "focus" it ended up being the most unfocused year of my life. I struggled with 6 months of depression and sank further into an addiction to binging (overeating). 

Still, we can learn lessons from our failures. In 2012 I tried the one word theme idea again. This time I tried a faith-based approach - my word was "seeking God" (two words, but I needed to be specific). And 2012 was a breakthrough for me. It's a very long, personal story that I won't bore you with all the details, but I'm sold on this one-word concept. The key is (for me, at least) to not make it a self-centered goal. Make it a goal that gets you to reach outside of yourself.  

From the MyOneWord.org website, here's more information. 

Step 1. The first step is to simply take some time and decide what kind of person you want to be at the end of this year. This goes beyond simply being healthier and wealthier. It must drive deep into your soul. 
Step 2. Get a picture of that person you want to be and then simply identify their major characteristics. Is that person gentle? Is that person generous? What are the qualities of the person you want to become?
Step 3. Once you have a list of the characteristics, simply pick a word. There might be 15 things that you want change, but you must resist the temptation to try to do more than one. Simply commit to one word. 
As with all things on my blog, I try to tie things back to stories or writing, somehow. I've been thinking about how I can apply this valuable lesson I've learned from just one word to my stories. How do I "reach outside of myself" with my stories? This is what I'm mulling over (I don't have an answer yet, and I don't have a word picked out yet). 
In the meantime, here's three things I learned in 2012:
1) it takes a village to write a good book. Critique partners who make you groan, friends you have fun brainstorming with, beta readers, editors, copy editors... it's so important to start building your team and realizing it's not just about you and your words.
2) when you are dealing with an addiction, the sooner you can admit it's an addiction the better, which also means admitting you can't beat it by yourself. Join Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, or Overeaters Anonymous, or start your own group. Find others struggling like you are.  Sometimes this takes a while. Don't give up. You are not alone.
3) If you focus on yourself, you end up draining yourself dry. Take a break to put others first and you will find yourself refreshed.

27 comments:

  1. So true about focusing on others. It really does help you with whatever's going on personally, just to take a step outside of yourself.

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  2. I'm not a huge goal setter so I love this one word approach. I'm going to have to think what my word will be. Hope you have a great year!

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  3. I picked DETERMINATION as my one word for 2012. I'm not sure what my 2013 word will be. I like the idea of going with a theme and not just resolutions. I always fail at resolutions. :)

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  4. Elizabeth HernandezJanuary 2, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    I have never been a goal setter nor have I have great success with it. Though I have fund other routes to this same method. Never have I tried a one word. I may just check this out. Sounds easy enough. I will go and check out one word blog as well. If I were to pick a word for this coming year without much thought as it has come to me many times in prayer it would be epic. Blessing to you and Happy New Year!

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  5. Lovely Margo!! I fail all the time with goals and resolutions so I totally don't make any! But I do like the feeling of taking a deep breath, exhaling really loudly and opening my eyes to new possibilities, chances and paths that the new year brings! I like starting 1st January with hope and optimism and a spring in my step. I don't know what to do or why or when or how but I just keep that feeling of something exciting and wonderful is out there just for me to seek and find and I feel totally totally excited to see another fabulous year start!!!

    :-)

    I wish you and yours a brilliant and adventurous and totally creative and productive 2013!!!

    Take care

    x

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  6. I set a few goals, but they're not really resolutions, I guess, as I usually fail miserably at those, too. I think the most important part is to remember that each day is a chance to make a new start, not just each year. I need to stamp this on my forehead. =D
    I totally agree with number three - focusing on others is a must, and I really need to do this!

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  7. I can never keep resolutions beyond a couple of weeks. This one word idea is interesting though. Will try to think of a word.


    cheers,
    mood

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  8. I can see how just focusing on one aspect of your life would help compared to a long list of resolutions. Glad you found that! And it's amazing how almost all our life lessons can be applied to writing!

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  9. I've never been one for resolutions but I LOVE the idea of choosing a word for the year. I think it fits perfectly with my writerliness...you know, you have to love words to write.

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  10. I LOVE it. What a great mindset. The thing I don't enjoy about resolutions is that they associated with failure or success... it's too black and white. I like this idea of picking a theme and going with it. Yours is a great one!

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  11. Yes exactly! writers can truly appreciate the power of even just a single word (esp. poets but certain even prosers too)

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  12. I didn't think of that way but resolutions are black and white, failure or success. No wonder why I never liked them.

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  13. And sometimes lessons learned from writing can be applied to life too, how cool is that???

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  14. My forehead would be black with everything I need to stamp on it to remember!

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  15. curious to see if you do pick one, which one, hope you get back to me on that or post on your blog!

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  16. I feel the same way about the new year - everything seems fresh and all things seem possible.

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  17. I'm curious about "epic" and why it come to mind!

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  18. This post is SO wonderful and something all of us can learn from. I also find that resolutions are setups for failure or disappointment. I love that idea of making a word the year's theme. You always think so creatively and it's quite inspiring!

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  19. P.S. You can also have the word inspire because that's definitely what you do for others, Margo :)

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  20. hey ... Margo. This really meshes with my blog on coping with rejection as one of the skills writers have to learn, absorb, ... ??? Anyway. A heads up. I'm linking.

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  21. This makes a lot of sense to me. The problem with resolutions (or one anyway) is, I think, that we try to change so much at once. We make a big, long list. Changing one small thing at a time sure sounds like better odds, and more like how we're wired to work.

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  22. Great way to approach a new year. My one word is craft.

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  23. Yup, rejection, that's such a necessary one

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  24. Yes it's so much easier to strive for one thing, than a whole list!

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  25. Elisabeth KauffmanJanuary 15, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    I love this, Margo! Thanks for sharing it.

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