Monthly Archives: January 2012

Resolutions & Emergency Rooms

Is it too late for a post about New Year’s resolutions? I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital, and the following seven days in bed with pneumonia, which has basically reset my clock by a week. So, here’s a blog about resolutions (one week late for all you healthy souls).

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

Except this year I resolve not to spend my next New Year’s Eve in an emergency room. There can be no worse day, I think, than New Year’s Eve and the wee hours of New Year’s Day to go and hang out in a hospital. Thankfully, they seemed to separate the ill from the injured and drunk. Thus my area of the ER, while busy, was relatively quiet.

Just for fun, here’s Emergency Room Tip #1: If, while sitting in the waiting room, you turn a ghastly shade of green, puke into a plastic bag, and try to lie down on the filthy floor, the nursing staff will give you a bed. And a blanket from the big warming contraption.

Why do I not do resolutions, you might ask? Generally, I believe they are an exercise in futility. Most resolutions are so sweeping in their generality, so utterly unachievable, they fail before they get to the starting gate. Setting myself up for failure is something I can do anytime. I don’t need a special occasion, like the turning over of a new year.

In and of themselves, resolutions can be a Good Thing, if you take the right approach. I’ve decided to view resolutions as goals that meet at least some of the following criteria. Feel free to poach any of my ideas and apply them to your own yearly goals/resolutions.

And don’t forget to resolve to stay out of the emergency room; it just makes good sense.

Achievable

I will join a gym.

It sounds achievable and I’ve actually made and kept this resolution several times. Too bad that, aside from the day I signed over several months’ salary, I never again set foot inside said gym.

It’s important to make sure the goal is realistic for you, given your time constraints and lifestyle. Before deciding on a resolution or goal, take a look at the time and money (if applicable) you can afford to throw at it. Make sure you won’t fail by making the goal too vague (join a gym) or too lofty (win world weight-lifting championship).

Walking for twenty minutes, at least three times a week is an achievable goal and not a half-bad resolution. It helps if you acquire a dog that will sit upon your chest and pant into your mouth with its hellacious breath until you take it for a walk.

Incremental

A resolution needs to build on itself. Small, incremental goals can add up to a pretty big achievement, if you’re willing to make a plan and stick to it. I’m not willing to go to the trouble this time around, so I’ll leave this one with you. Good luck.

Measurable

I will finish my novel.

Another one that sounds good, but how to go about it?

The ability to measure your progress can be a great motivator. As a writer, if I resolve to write x number of words each day or each week, I can keep a running tally (in a spreadsheet if I’m tech-savvy and anal) that illustrates my progress. In this case, success can beget success (yes, I just used the word “beget”). The closer I get to the ultimate goal of finishing that story or novel, the more motivated I am to do just that.

In Your Control

This is the one thing that many people fail to take into account when making resolutions. Can I make this happen? If you’re putting your fate in other people’s hands, your success or failure is no longer under your control.

This year, I will find an agent.

It sounds like a good resolution, right? Wrong. Getting an agent is entirely OUT of my control. Crafting a killer query letter, assembling a stunning query package, researching and sending the query to the RIGHT agents. Those actions are under my control. Whether or not an agent decides to take me on is entirely up to her.