Well, as per tradition, it’s time to plan my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017.
I’m a great believer in self-development, which is why I like to take this opportunity to look back on what I tried to achieve in the last year – and to see how far I got! I think that setting clear, quantifiable targets and letting others know you’ve done so is a fantastic motivator for actually doing them. But it’s by seeing how (or if…) I’ve achieved them that helps me see where I’d like to push myself next.
Last Year’s Resolutions
You can read about these in detail, should you wish, here on my blog.
- Finish a novel. You know what, I did as well. To say I’m happy would be an understatement; I’m so chuffed and proud to have got something out of those nine months of hard work. It’s currently in the hands of proofreaders, who will tell me if it’s any good or not.
- Run 366 miles in a year. Ok, bear with me. I kept a steady running routine up until June – then I started a new job. I don’t really mention having a full-time job much on my blog or on Twitter; it spoils the escapism of being an author! But I do, and what I’ve learned from taking on a new, challenging role could fill a blog all by itself. But more relevantly, I resolved to cycle every day to my new job. It’s about nine miles there and nine back again, and I cycle it whenever I can; probably four out of five days every week. As I’m getting my fitness quotient from cycling rather than running, I’ve let the latter fall by the wayside.
- Play the guitar regularly. I’ve kept at the guitar, but there’s no way I’ve done so regularly. I’m better than I was last December (I can do barre chords now), but I think this resolution needed a bit more rigidity to it – a proper target to hit.
I count two of my resolutions as successes. I completed my novel, and learned how to keep writing consistently for a lengthy stretch of time. This has been a life milestone for me; hell, if this was the only thing I achieved last year I’d be over the moon. And I don’t want to stop now! But we’ll get to that.
Although my running resolution was technically a failure, I think what I have done goes above and beyond my ambitions. I resolved to run for fitness, and since I began cycling around 70 miles a week the weight has dropped off me, and my double bass drumming speed has ramped up to Cradle of Filth levels. I may have gone about it differently, but the end result of the resolution has been the same.
I’ve let myself down with my guitar. I should practice it more – and will. Let’s see how.
New Year’s Resolutions 2017:
- Write 5000 words a week. This is the weekly figure that pushed me through my novel. It’s a challenge, don’t get me wrong – I do most of my writing Monday to Friday, so it averages 1000 words a day. But I’m reluctant to start a new novel when I know there’s amendments to make to After Life following reader’s responses, and then there’s the publishing process to deal with. 5000 words a week, whether it’s blogging, short fiction or poetry, should keep that writing muscle flexed, and my portfolio plump.
- Learn a new song every week on guitar. Last year’s resolution needed more discipline – well, here it is. I have most fun on guitar when I try and learn new songs. I tend to learn something new with any song – a new chord, a new sequence of lead notes – so I figure this will be the best way to teach myself and enjoy myself at the same time. The key to any challenge is to enjoy it.
- Maintain and improve my fitness. Completing the holy trinity of resolutions, I present: maintain my fitness. I’ve learned that pushing myself hard – because 18 miles day still hurts after all this time – does have its rewards. The improvement to my fitness has been tangible; more so than when I was running a lot. I know I need to keep working at this intensity to continue maintaining my fitness, and integrating it into my routine has really helped. So I will continue cycling to work, and crack out those cobwebbed dumbbells every few days for a spell too.
And there we have it. Plenty to be getting on with in next year, though I have to say: it’ll be hard to beat 2016. All the same…