I’m usually resolved at this time of year to do something. Get fit. Read more. Or better still, find that literary agent who shares my passion to tell my stories.
Don’t get me wrong. I plan to query agents in 2021. More fervently, if anything.
Otherwise, I’ve decided on a different approach. Rather than compile a list of goals I aspire to achieve, I’m going to strive instead to avoid those things I shouldn’t do.
So here are my New Year’s resolutions of different sort. My list of don’ts. I’m sharing in case others might find it useful. But I’m not so much preaching as confessing. These are things I expect to work on in the year ahead. Clearly, I’ve got a lot work to do.
Don’t whine. I mention this first because I’m most often guilty of the offense. Yet, who am I to complain in a world full of people who face more challenging difficulties? Especially in the midst of a pandemic. Moreover, I’ve finally come to the realization it makes more sense to just go ahead and try to fix problems than harp about fixing them.
Don’t try to impress. The people who impress me most are those who try the least to do so. They’re so good at what they do, it’s self-evident. No aggrandizement required. What’s more, they’re far too smart to believe they’re smarter than anyone else. That sounds paradoxical, but it’s not. Intelligent people know they can learn something from nearly every situation and nearly every person they encounter.
Don’t live in the past. This applies equally to failures and successes. Learn from mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. See them as the opportunities they are to improve and try, try again. Forgive not only yourself, but also others. When someone makes a mistake, respond with understanding rather than blame. What goes around really does come around. The next time you need help, who do you think is more likely to come to your rescue? The same goes for triumphs. While it’s easy to rest on laurels, don’t. The true measure of success isn’t one or two wins, however remarkable, but excellence sustained over time.
Don’t wait. It’s tempting to put off those tasks we deem important, yet not so important they require our immediate attention. It can wait a day. Right? But then another day passes. Then another. It’s far worse to defer our dreams. Whether it’s a short jaunt or long journey, the most important thing is to take that first step toward a desired destination. Just get started.
Don’t let fear hold you back. I’ve saved what I consider the best advice for last. Not only because it’s important at a time when it’s understandable to be fearful, but also because I’m particularly susceptible to this foible. The obstacles we build up in our minds are far more daunting than what we’re likely to actually experience. What we perceive as mountains really are more often molehills. The best way to overcome fears? Confront them and see them for what they usually are — unfounded.
Every new year — every new day, for that matter — affords another opportunity to try something different. More important, to make a difference.
What will you do, or not do, in 2021 to make a difference?