“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard, A Writing Life
Making New Year’s Resolutions is a kind of religion for me. I believe in it so much that I make my resolutions at the new year and again at mid-year for tune up. If you are reading this and you think that resolutions are corny or a waste of time, I strongly suspect that no one has ever sugested ways that are meaningful and guarantees success. So give it a chance and join me, won’t you? You are about to change your life.
In my experience, expressing your deepest, wildest dreams, even in a private diary, can feel scary and sometimes even wrong, as in: “Who am I to allow myself to imagine a life this big and gorgeous and successful? And if I write it in my day-to-day journal, what if someone sees it? What if I see it, what if I read it again in a few months and I’ve failed because of course I will and these words will humiliate me because I should know better and…” Sound familiar?
The Burner Journal
Now, you can “kill” your internal editor but it’s a lot of work and she’ll just be back, so I suggest you just trick her instead, by using a burner journal. Make it cheap, tell yourself it doesn’t matter, then use this notebook for one thing and one thing only – writing the most outrageously big dreams you can come up with. This is the place for your mad secrets and I want you to give yourself permission to write, and think, and scheme, any mad thing you dream of.
Get your burner diary out and get yourself alone – go to the library or sit in the front seat of your car in the driveway – and centre yourself a little then write this down:
What do I need to do to die with the right regrets?
Now write. Write and write and write. About your creative life dreams: for work, for family, for your spirit, for whatever you are searching for, for whatever is searching for you. Take stock. Brainstorm. Be bold. Name It. This is your burner journal, remember? If it is too much you can always get rid of it. No one has to see it or know about it, not even the future you.
This Might Help
Try writing in third person. Ask a question then answer it as if someone else was coaching you, helping you Figure This Out. “What do you need to do to die with the right regrets?” Now you have permission to answer this coach, this therapist, this unseen comrade who is on your side. Oh, she is also fierce, by the way, and not here for your false modesty. So tell her. Or him.
Once you have your rambling confession of how you would live your one precious life if you could, the next step is turning it into something you can work with. You might as well know that it may take time to get there. I went from working two dead-end jobs and raising a child to having a creative life I love and owning my own art studio. IT TOOK 25 YEARS. But get here I did and it was because 25 years ago I started making personal manifestos and turning them into doable resolutions that could be accomplished. And if you don’t start now, those years will get away from you. You can do this. You have to do this. If not now, then when?
To Read How to Make No-fail Resolutions That Will Change Your Life Part 2: The Practical Stuff, click here.
If you have any questions or need any kind of reassurance or pep-talk, let me know in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.