It’s that time of year again! As many of you already know, I’m a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. This is partially because my resolution from 2013 led me to write and finish my first full novel, The Defectors, and partially because New Year’s Day is the true Christmas for goal junkies like me.
Using the new year as a time to set goals for yourself is fantastic, and contrary to what cynics in the media say, resolutions can work and often do. The key (for me at least) is being specific and realistic with your goal-setting. For instance, “get healthy” and “go to the gym every day” are made-to-be-broken resolutions because the former is too vague and the latter is not realistic. You will get sick. You will go on a trip. And you probably aren’t going to go to the gym when those things occur.
If you do make resolutions designed to be daily habits, I think it’s important to view these goals the way you would view sobriety. If you fall off the wagon one day, they key is to get back on as soon as possible. You aren’t a failure because you miss one day. You can just keep going the next day.
For my personal resolutions, I do like to create small daily habits that make me healthier and happier. I also enjoy setting goals that are more like “bucket list” items than work. For my professional resolutions, I prefer larger goals that I can spend the whole year working toward.
Since most of you are probably most interested in what books are coming in 2016 — perhaps one book in particular — I’ll start there.
Books Coming in 2016
Yes, I promise: The fifth and final book of The Fringe will be available sometime mid-2016. Incidentally, one of my smaller professional goals is to have better book launches with specific release dates set way in advance, but I’m dragging my feet on that because quality is super important to me and I have to be in the right mindset to write a book.
As I mentioned before, I needed a palate cleanser to recharge creatively before writing book five, so I will definitely be releasing a novella (and possibly a novel related to the novella) before finishing up The Fringe series.
The best way I can think to describe the novella is a futuristic police procedural meets domestic drama. It’s a new genre for me, but if you like my other books, I think you’ll appreciate the characters and the sense of mystery that builds throughout the book as the detective and the reader attempt to work out what happened. The novel is a continuation of that story, but there’s a stronger romantic element and lots of fighting, which I think fans of The Fringe will enjoy.
After Fringe five, I want to write and release a fourth book before the end of the year, but I haven’t pinned down what book I will write. I’ve discovered that having some degree of creative freedom is key to my happiness as a writer, so that’s what I’m building in this year.
Personal Resolutions for the Year of Mindfulness
On the personal side, I’ve set several small goals for myself that I think will improve my overall mood and quality of life. The theme is the Year of Mindfulness, which I think we could all use a little more of. Here are a few of my goals:
Meditate every morning for at least 10 minutes. I hope to increase the duration of my meditation as I go, but I feel that 10 minutes is manageable even when I’m traveling or busy. I started this back in December, and I haven’t missed a day yet. Meditating hasn’t turned me into a super peaceful easy-breezy person, but it has made me more aware of different feelings as they arise throughout the day. Stay tuned.
Read every weekday night before falling asleep. Last year my resolution to read two books per month didn’t really pan out, partially because I tend to exceed that during my binge-reading months and partially because I fail to meet it when I get really busy and worn down. Making it a daily habit (even if I only read a few pages) takes the pressure off and keeps me reading.
Reduce mindless news and social media consumption. I have a confession: I really, really dislike social media. And even though I already spend way less time on it than most people, it has become this thing that I check compulsively two or three times a day.
Why do I do this? Most of my good friends rarely post on Facebook, so my News Feed is full of people I’m not all that invested in. (Sorry if you’re one of those people.) I also noticed I was wasting a lot of time in the morning sifting through my inbox and reading junk news.
To be more mindful, I’m timing myself every morning and limiting my mindless surfing to 30 minutes. As long as I don’t get a huge influx of emails, I am able to figure out what’s going on in the world, respond to people’s nice notes, and stumble upon some random writing inspiration without wasting much time.
Get better at geography by looking up countries that I can’t picture on a map. If you’ve ever gone on a road trip with me, you know my sense of geography is truly horrific. This gets worse when a place is halfway around the world. But instead of being a lazy American who doesn’t give a fuck where other countries are located, I’m going to make an effort to learn where places are and learn a bit about the culture there.
Take a kickboxing match. This is a maybe/maybe not resolution, but I thought I’d share it anyway. It doesn’t really fit into the theme of mindfulness, but I like to have one scary goal every year that pushes me outside my comfort zone. Plus, last year I made trying MMA a goal with the same trepidation, so I figure this will be more likely to happen if I throw it out there.
Taking a kickboxing match scares me a lot less than taking an MMA fight because A) my kickboxing right now is OK, whereas my ground game in MMA is practically nonexistent, and B) you get to wear protective gear in kickboxing to protect, you know, your brain. I’m still not sure if I’ll feel comfortable with my own skill level to take a fight by the end of 2016, but a lot can happen in a year.
This post fulfills the last criteria of a good New Year’s resolution, which is some built-in accountability. Now you all know what I’m hoping to accomplish, so I’ll feel a little added pressure during those times when I’m tempted to slack off.
What are your resolutions? Let me know in the comments below!