Jun 20, 2014 · 5 minute read
We are smack-dab in the middle of the year, but it’s a good time to make some resolutions for a couple of reasons:
Summer Solstice is right around the corner. It’s the longest day of the year; the beginning of summer and a good time to reflect on what has passed the first half of the year and what we hope to see the second half.
I just finished a journal. This might not have anything to do with you, but I find that when I’ve finished a notebook, the time is ripe to set goals for the next journal and to see how far I’ve come. Also, because I (shamefully) journal sporadically, it takes me a while to complete a notebook.
My new journal and my Pelikan M100 fountain pen.
Let’s explore these a little more.
Summer Solstice: This has been, for millennia, a time of celebration, across cultures and around the world. It still is — you can go anywhere still and find religious and secular celebrations of spring turning to summer, of new beginnings. I mean, it’s the longest day of the year. What’s not to love?
It’s also a little over six months since we made our New Year’s resolutions, for those of us who did. It’s a perfect time to take stock: How’s that resolution working for you? Have you made progress? Are you working daily toward your goal? If not, what changes can you make to ensure that you are moving down the path? Or maybe that wasn’t the right goal for this time in your life, and now is a good time to set another one that’s more in line with your life, your abilities and your desires.
Tip: Be sure to write down your goal and the steps you’ll take to achieve it. Be as specific as you want, but have some kind of plan to guide you on those days when you’re not really sure what to do next. It’s also handy to keep track of what you have done so you can see the progress you’ve made. Which leads us to …
A new journal: Yay! Gotta love a new journal. As a writer, I’m a sucker for pen and paper, and I have a fairly extensive collection of pretty or handsome (it depends) notebooks, just waiting to be filled with brilliant ideas, witticisms or lists, because I’m a nerd, and I love lists. In fact, I have so many that one of my minor New Year’s resolutions was to stop buying notebooks (as well as yarn) until I’ve used up what I have. So far, so good, though I did get one for my birthday, but that doesn’t count since I didn’t buy it. Heh.
Anyway, I’ve got a sparkling new journal just waiting to be written in. I must admit, while the crisp, blank pages are inviting, they can also be a little daunting. Where to start? Basically, I use my journal as a diary, to record my thoughts and feelings at a particular time or to record major events — and there have been a few this year, which is why I sped through the last part of my previous journal.
My plan for this notebook includes recording my thoughts and feelings, but I’m adding to its duties too. My plan now includes laying out my goals for the next six months and tracking them daily. I’m kind of bad at tracking my progress consistently, so that in itself is a resolution. I don’t want to get too crazy about the detail either, because then I’ll never keep it up. So I’m looking at doing something like this:
6-21: Solstice, baby!
Goal: Improving my freelance business
Time spent: 1 hour
Then my regular journal entry.
Then 3 things I’m grateful for
Listing what you’re grateful for is a reminder of just how lucky you are and is a nice way to end a journal entry, no matter how heavy, on a positive note. I got the idea from a TED talk by Shawn Achor about happiness and success where he lists a few things we can do every day to help us be happier, more productive people. Your gratitudes don’t have to be big things; it can be something as simple as being glad there are peaches in this world, or new notebooks.
So my journal entry example above gives you a clue about my resolutions for the next six months: I’m going to improve my freelance business, and my goal is to take action to that end every day for at least an hour. And when I say “action,” I don’t mean “listening to podcasts” or “daydreaming about being a famous novelist.” What I mean is actual, real, business-related action – either writing or marketing or any of the other things you have to do to run a freelance writing business.
It’s important to be able to measure your goals so you know if you’re making progress, but measurements like “get two new clients” or “increase my income by $1,000″ aren’t really helpful to me and the way I work. I prefer to measure my goals by what I can control: hours I spend, number of e-mails I send out to prospects, etc.
My other resolution is to purge more of my stuff. Yes, I just moved and got rid of a lot of things when I did, but I still have too much stuff, and it’s kind of stressing me out. My goal is to have two empty bins and one empty shelf in a closet somewhere in the house by the end of the year. It doesn’t sound like much, but it not only involves getting rid of things, but also means not replacing them with other things. Wish me luck!
I told you mine, now you tell me your Summer Solstice resolutions and how you like to use your new journals!