Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Reverse of Resolutions

I’ve been a very bad blogger, but I resolve to do better. Speaking of resolutions...

Here we are, 19 days into January. How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? At this point, some people are already feeling defeated and discouraged because they’ve set themselves up with unrealistic goals. Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m a firm believer in resolutions and setting goals (see last January’s blog called “Manifestation Has Major Mojo”). I I look forward to listing new goals, breaking them into steps, charting my progress, marking off the accomplishments on the list (yes, I'm a geek).

BUT, I also recommend something else, something I call the Reverse of Resolutions. While it is important to challenge ourselves, it’s just as important to acknowledge the things we already accomplished.

I know, I know, we are taught not to “toot our own horn,” but really, it’s good to take a look at all you’ve done in the course of a year—good for the soul, good for the ego, just plain good any way you look at it.

Because my birthday is close to the beginning of January, my New Year's resolutions are closely tied to this birthday-take-stock-of-my-life exercise. Before I make an unreasonable list of punishing goals, I take an indulgent, congratulatory look at all the cool stuff I did between this year and last. It makes me feel proud, it makes me feel kinder towards myself, it’s a nice affirmation, and if we can’t brag a little to ourselves, who else is going to do it?

I start a clean page in a notebook and just start numbering a list. I take my time and try to list every single cool thing I can remember.

Obviously, your list should include the “biggies.” For me, 2010 included:
1. Published my fourth novel.
2. Sold my first young adult novel
3. Got my first live TV spot promoting Blessings


10. Attended class taught by the Dalai Lama
11. Taught my first college level writing course

But I also include accomplishments no one else might recognize or know about, such as:
17. Never got lost a single time while renting a car on book tour


26. Made real peace with and found forgiveness for X (no one has to see your list...but sometimes those very personal accomplishments change our lives the most.)

Once you get on a roll, allow yourself to list anything and everything that you recall about the year past, recognizing moments that gave you peace and beauty, moments that required you to be brave or generous, moments that forced you out of your comfort zone, or introduced you to new passions.

30. Spent a lovely morning alone on Venice Beach in Los Angeles
32. Nurtured new friendships with X, Y, and Z...
42. Stopped investing in relationship with X because it was toxic and not giving me anything.
50. Grew a perfect watermelon
52. Hosted Thanksgiving
60. Learned to ice skate
61. Learned to hang a door on hinges
70. Told the truth that time to X when it really scared me

In the past, my lists have included things like:
learned to make tiramisu,
finished a draft of a new novel,
discovered a great new friend in X,
finally bought myself a Forever Summer hydrangea because I’ve always thought they were beautiful and I deserve to have beauty around me,
went to NYC to see Jude Law play Hamlet because...I wanted to.

You get the idea.

You’ll get going. You’ll get on a roll. Nothing that comes to mind is too small to include.
We deserve to pat ourselves on the back and bask a little bit for the time it takes to make your list. Sometimes, on discouraging days, it helps to go back and read your list—especially on days you feel you aren’t living up to your resolutions. You’ll go over your list and think, “Look at me. Look at all I did. Okay, tomorrow is another day. I’m inspired to do better.”

Start making your list. Look at you! Look at how strong, kickass and interesting you are!

Don’t you feel better already?


  1. I love this idea. And I'm going to spin off of it and keep an ongoing list of things I'm proud to accomplish as this new year unfolds. (Plus it helps since my memory isn't that great!) So far this year: gave my first-ever public talk about writing with my writing group. Can't wait for what's next!

  2. I love your list. I'm doing mine as soon as I leave this comment. Of course you'll be on my list. Thanks for everything.