Habits for 2015

Last January I wrote about why I don’t believe in goals. I’m still on board with that sentiment. This year, I’m more focused on habits. I’ve quoted Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog more than once, and I’m going to do it again. For 2015, he has laid out a habit to develop each month. Success may or may not be mine, but, regardless, this is a good list to tackle.

  1. January: Meditation
  2. February: Healthy eating
  3. March: Decluttering
  4. April: Exercise
  5. May: Unprocrastination
  6. June: Learning/studying
  7. July: Debt reduction (saving/investing)
  8. August: Quitting a bad habit
  9. September: A good start (waking early, yoga, etc.)
  10. October: Gratitude
  11. November: Creating
  12. December: Letting Go


Why I don’t believe in goals

Yep, you heard me. I don’t believe in goals. In the first weeks of this new year, I have seen a lot of posts about peoples’ plans for 2014: what they hope to accomplish, resolutions they’ve made, all kinds of measurable and immeasurable goals. Not that goals can’t have a place in someone’s life (and I wish you all the best in reaching yours), but for me, no way. And here’s why: goals distract me from the present moment.

Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” When I focus on goals, I am spending my days in the future–holding myself to some potential outcome that will presumably give me happiness, satisfaction, some inexpressible feeling of accomplishment that brings meaning to my life. But maybe, just maybe, all those things come not from some goal(s) to check off  a to do list. Instead, it is found by being fully present in each moment. By fully living my life.

Will I succeed in living in the present moment at all times? No. But to spend time in regret or self-flagellation is to live in the past. To strive to be better is to live in the future. The present moment just is. I accept that. And I accept it over and over. Can you?

I challenge each of you to embrace a life where there is no hope for the future, no reliance on that hope to give you happiness. Alan Watts wrote, “If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are ‘crying for the moon.’ We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.”

I know setting goals isn’t the same as believing they will come to pass in the future, but there is such a temptation to give goals more power over our happiness than they deserve. Goals can have merit. They can give us the opportunity to evaluate what we value and how we wish to spend our time. But they are not a promise. They are not a measure of how good or bad our life is. They do not tell us how good or successful we are as human beings. They only carry the meaning we ascribe to them.

When my husband was helping me revise this post, he reminded me of a similar sentiment about goals shared by Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.net. If you are interested in another take on not goal setting, check out his wonderful post. A teaser quote: “I live without goals, for the most part. It’s absolutely liberating, and contrary to what you might have been taught, it absolutely doesn’t mean you stop achieving things. It means you stop letting yourself be limited by goals.”

So what are my writing plans for 2014?

  • I’m working on the third book in my Hidden Lines series. It’s almost completed, so there is a good probability it will be out this year.
  • Another story is in the works. Odds say I’ll finish it this year. I’m less confident that it will be published in 2014.
  • I recently found a bunch of old stories. Some are whispering in my ear to come back to them. That might come to pass.
  • Who knows what might inspire me in the next minute, day, month etc.? If it goes anywhere, I’ll probably talk about it here.

What I do know is the some things will happen–whether related to writing or not–and I want to be present in the moment that each of those things occur.

I wish you all a beautiful 2014 from moment to moment.

Agreements and a Declaration… #thoughts

When I make agreements with other people, I’m a pretty reliable person. With myself, it’s a completely different issue. I could venture into TMI land, but I suffice it to say that I’m sure this has much to do with my own issues with perfectionism and failure.

So what agreement did I recently break that I’m here to share today?

In April, I completed the A to Z Challenge, where I posted each day (Sundays excluded) with a post about a word that starts with each consecutive letter of the alphabet. For the most part it was fun, although some letters were more challenging then others. I had the brilliant idea that I’d continue on my own A to Z Challenge and post with this theme each week, so in a year I’d have made my way through the alphabet twice.

And now, here it is, the middle of June, and I’m just now posting about Agreements (which helpfully starts with A).

Since my internal will power has flaws, here’s my declaration to the blogosphere: I’m going to post alphabetically at least once every two weeks. I’ll still post news and adoptable animals, too, as well as guest posts and spotlights from other authors.

If I start to slack, feel free to send me a nudge. I just might need it.