Happy New Year! Now, 'scuse me while I climb up on my soapbox...
(drops box and climbs up)
Around January 1st, most people have a tendency to reflect on the year that just wrapped up. More often than not, this reflection then gets carried a step further--specifically, the future. Before you know it, resolutions to make HUGE changes suddenly appear. Yep, it's time again for New Year's resolutions, but the thing is... I hate them. Like, to the point where I want to attack the very idea of resolutions with hammers, hit it with a bus, and throw it off the nearest cliff into a cauldron of lava.
Why? Well, besides suspecting that the concept of New Year's resolutions is in fact the work of the devil, these nasty little buggers often spawn two things: One, New Year's resolutions build impossible expectations. And two, when the person making the resolution inevitably doesn't meet these impossible expectations, they feel like a weak-willed, no-good, sit-in-the-Naughty-Corner failure. *ragey-face*
Truth is, they're NOT a failure. It's just not possible to flip a switch and suddenly become someone else. It takes time to change, and the fact is January 1st doesn't have any Super Change-O magic. It's just a date.
I live my life in goal-oriented mode--even if that goal is as simple as removing all the half-drunk water bottles from my car (am I the only one who does this?). The characters I write about are also very self-motivated. In UGLY DUCKLINGS FINISH FIRST, the first book in my Bitterthorn, Texas series, both the hero and heroine achieved their goals of becoming a small town lawyer and doctor, respectively. This was an especially difficult goal for the hero, Wiley, to attain, but he never gave up, and this reflected a tenacity that was inherent in his nature.
Goal-reaching is also one of the character-creating tools I used when I wrote STARTING FROM SCRATCH, the second book that takes place in Bitterthorn, Texas. The Army Ranger hero, Sully, finally comes home after suffering a traumatic brain injury, and his determination to get his life back defines the core of his character. I didn't have to tell the reader Sully was made of stern stuff. His determination to reach his goals illustrated it for me.
If you have a tradition of making resolutions every New Year's and it works for you, that's wonderful. However, if you happen to be like the majority of people I know and you wind up in mid-February in a soup of self-hate because you've already fumbled the resolution ball, maybe it's time to try another way. Resolve not to make impossible resolutions. Instead, perhaps try living life to the fullest every single day of the year. Living sounds a lot better than resolving, doesn't it?
(hops off soapbox to clean out half-empty water bottles from car)