Maybe it’s because I love maps, and make no mistake, making goals and resolutions is about making a map of your life: taking stock of where you are and setting a course for where you mean to go, and how to go about getting there. This turns your life into a meaningful journey rather than aimless roaming.
It helps you see that every goal pursued and met – or not – is a building blocks to be experienced, lived, embraced. The best advice I’ve ever found about about knowing what you want and then getting it was from Barbara Sher. Her books Wishcraft – How to Get What You Really Want and I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was really did change how I thought. I read them at a time that I felt trapped by life and was angry, desperate, and scared. She showed me how to get out by imagining my direction and then taking real-life teeny, tiny steps towards it. It’s about using those goals, those building blocks as pulling yourself along hand over hand, until you can walk then run then fly. Or maybe you stumble and that is where regular resolution-setting comes in: taking stock, assessing your course, then setting off again. And again.
Sher’s advice was to take your wildest dream – anything short of that isn’t good enough – and start backwards from there. Let’s say you want to publish a book, or sell your art work, or have a one-woman show. None of these things is impossible; they may be unlikely but face it, people do them everyday. So start with the dream, then try to see the steps between it and where you are now, thinking backwards – what was the thing that happened just before that vision became fulfilled. Then the one before that, and the one before that one, and so on until you babystep yourself mentally backwards to where you are right now.
And that’s it. Now you have your map, a chart, a plan. There may be a thousand steps between you and your dream, a thousand task. So just do one. Then the next. No matter how many steps and tasks, no matter how long and bumpy the road, you can do it and stay the course because now you know it is where it is leading and where you are going, to what you want most, what you don’t dare miss out on in your brief stay on this planet.
I have had a good life. Been dashed on plenty of rocks but always got up and stumbled up and out again. The security to live a creative life came a little late but it’s here now and what I may lack in skin tone is made up for in the awareness that I am living a creative life, with the resources to go even further, express more, experience more while I am still here and try to leave clues, breadcrumbs, messages in bottles, a thread in the labyrinth for someone else trying to make sense of an unexplored realm. If there is a meaning of life this one will do for me. It is why I make resolutions.
By the way, my wildest dream is to be artist-in-residence in an abandoned abbey on a mountain in France. It exists, I have been there, but they do not have a residency programme. They do not know that they want an artist-in-residence. Yet. But I have a plan.