Tag Archives: New Year Challenge

This is Not a New Year’s Resolution: You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere

It’s been some time since my last post. In fact, it’s been more than a quarter of a year and nearly a third of a year. There are a confluence of reasons for that, but I’ll get to that later. The thing I wanted to highlight in today’s post is that the important thing is — starting.

Since I’ve been away from writing for so long, I started to think that my first post back had to be stellar. The insights contained within had to literally blow your socks off. In adding this unnecessary pressure, I noticed that when I had some time to write a post, I would procrastinate and do something else instead. Why? I felt like I didn’t have anything that good to say after having been away for that long. With each opportunity to sit down and write something, the pressure mounted and mounted, until I came to the realization that I was adding this pressure to myself. And it was unnecessary. I could simply let the pressure fall away and write.

As the annual arbitrary calendar event just passed, I thought this was the perfect time to share this with you. Why? A number of you will choose to take up New Year’s Resolutions (I strongly suggest a New Year’s Challenge, instead!) and a number of you will probably decide that it’s time to write that bestseller you’ve always wanted to. Having not gotten into the practice of writing everyday, there’s a good chance that staring at the white screen and blinking cursor will cause some anxiety. So what I’m telling you: You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere.

There are lots of places you could start and maybe that’s what’s causing the stress.

If you need a nudge, then, might I suggest starting with the thing that you know the most about? Your paragraphs and ordering of your thoughts don’t have to be perfect, but just getting your fingers (or hand, if you prefer the “old-fashioned way”) moving is important.

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Getting back to what I mentioned in the first paragraph (extended absence)… I didn’t expect things to get so hectic this past Fall. I moved again (still in the same city, though), the academic semester started (and ended), I broke my shoulder-blade in somewhat of a freak accident, and the little person that calls me Dadda started walking. As most parents will tell you, when that happens, it’s a whole new ballgame. Nonetheless, I think I’ve got a handle on things and that I’ll be able to write with greater frequency than I have in the last 4 months. As the annual arbitrary calendar event just passed, it’s a good time to check the “top posts of 2014” for this site, so look for those in the coming days.

Instead of Resolutions, Make New Year’s Challenges

I may be a bit late to the party in writing about New Year’s Resolutions, but I did want to share with you a philosophy that I think you may find useful. When was the last time you made a New Year’s Resolution that you actually stuck with — for the whole year? If I’m being honest, I can’t think of one resolution that I stuck with the whole year, but then again, I can’t really remember any resolution I’ve made.

So, I submit — make a New Year’s Challenge!

First, there’s the language. A challenge is much more inviting than a resolution. (Am I right?) Second, do you know the definitions of these two words? Resolution:

A firm decision to do or not to do something.

While challenge means:

A call to take part in a contest or competition.

I don’t know about you, but a challenge — by definition! — is much more inviting. In fact, the idea of a resolution (in this context!) kind of seems a bit out there, doesn’t it? The sheer inflexibility of it nearly makes it an impossibility. It’s not fair to you to put such a stringent barrier on yourself. It’s no wonder that people fail to keep their resolutions — our ideas change all the time!

There’s another piece to this that I think is important: skills. A challenge to learn a new skill could certainly be compelling and it may expand one’s awareness. I remember last new year’s I signed up for CodeAcademy’s challenge to learn how to code. I know I didn’t finish it, but I got pretty far and it did re-jog my memory on some of the coding I’d learned in high school.

If you’re going to challenge yourself to learn a new skill, be sure to take it easy on yourself and be mindful of how you position this challenge. For instance, I’d like to learn how to play the guitar and the piano, and learn a couple of languages. It would be pretty silly of me to try to learn all of those all at once (although, some might argue that the reverse). I’m setting myself up to fail on some of these challenges. Like I said, it’s also important how I position these challenges.

For instance, it’s a bit ambiguous to say, ‘I’m going to learn Spanish or French.’ What does that mean? Do I want to be able to converse with strangers, order off of menus, work in the French government, etc. Instead of placing these kinds of targets, I’ve decided to just plan to practice French for 30 minutes a day (or 30 minutes a day during the week). This way, my skill will improve and I won’t have a vague target in the future. (As a brief aside: I’m still trying to decide between Memrise and Duolingo for practicing the new language. I may just alternate between both.)

What challenge(s) will you have for the new year?