New Year's Resolutions?If you could go back over your year and get one do-over, just one, would you?

If you would, what would it be?

This is the time of year when people determine to look toward the future, to think about the goals and resolutions they want to make for a new year. We view it as a time to strive to be better, slimmer, healthier, kinder, richer … and the list could go on. Many of our resolutions may be about our future, what we want to see ourselves become or achieve, but I also think a lot of the time they’re also about our past. We see the shining New Year as a chance to wipe the slate clean, to be the person we’ve always wanted to be, to change.

For very specific reasons, I’ve never been a person to make New Year’s resolutions. This year, however, after deciding to view my writing as a business and put myself wholeheartedly into letting my stories build a career, I’ve realized that part of having a business is having a sound business plan and part of having a business plan is having goals or, by another name, resolutions.

It’s been interesting trying to decide the achievements I want to be able to call mine by this time next year. I don’t want to set my goals so high that I’ll run myself ragged, but I also want to set them high enough that I’ll be motivated and never let myself get complacent.

In thinking about these goals I have also thought about where I was at this time last year. The transformation is amazing. At this time last year I knew I was going to devote the new year to writing. I thought that in having a whole year to write I would probably be able to write one more novel manuscript and, hopefully, shape up the two manuscripts I had already written so I could send them off to publishers. At that time the idea of independent publishing was something I had barely considered and when I did consider it, I thought it was something I would never do.

Last year, my goals were clearly too small. I didn’t write one more novel manuscript, I wrote three and published two! I also spent a lot of time researching the publishing industry. My mindset was transformed and a new trajectory for my life unfolded—publish my own books, have creative control, not wait for someone else to determine my future!

So back to my initial question—if you could have one do-over, would you take it? Or, better yet, would you learn from it?

If your answer is the second one, guess what, learning from our choices and experiences is something we can always do and it’s so empowering. It means we never have to feel regret over how we’ve ‘failed,’ how we didn’t live up to expectations, or how we were just less than we could have been. It means we can just be better, almost instantaneously, no matter the time of year.

In the novel I’m editing right now, the main character is in the midst of one of those ‘if only’ moments. Her life is not where she wants it to be. She has her low, contemplating how things could have been different, but the thing is, they’re not.

Eventually, she realizes this and focuses instead on how awesome it is that she’s made it to where she is. The mistakes and bad choices that were a part of getting her there were just that—PART OF GETTING HER THERE. We can’t fix the past so why view it as something that needs to be fixed? Rather, let’s see it as an opportunity to define our future.

If you have a list of resolutions set out for your New Year, great! Either way, I encourage you to think about your past year. First focus on the way you’ve grown and the successes you’ve had. This may feel tricky. Often our successes are harder to see because at first glance they may seem small or even insignificant, but they’re not.

Next, once you’re feeling all swell and thankful for your life, take some moments to think about the choices you wish you hadn’t made (or, perhaps, some of the choices you did make) and view them as beautiful. They’re not failures. They’re lessons that will give you the opportunity to excel next time around.

There’s a good chance this will be difficult or more complex than this post implies. So what?  Give it a go. You just may be surprised. 🙂

And, as always, I’d love to hear about what you come up with in the comments below.

charlene carr

  1. Progress, not perfection.
    I feel special whenever I say this. I heard Denzel say it in a movie in 2014, and it stuck.

    • Progress, not perfection. I like that. It’s a sentiment I’ve reminded myself of more than once! And that Denzel, he so often has such memorable lines! 😉

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