Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions - Some Thoughts

So many people will be making new year's resolutions or made them yesterday, that I thought I'd add a few thoughts of my own about this annual project.

First, don't make a huge list of things you want to change; you will be overwhelmed and feel you've failed if you don't follow through on all of them. Chose one or two things that are very important to you, or perhaps chose one thing each in the various areas of your life: family, health, spirituality, education and so on. If you go that route, keep it simple for best success.

If you are serious about your resolutions, write them down and post yourself a reminder (just a few words to represent each resolution) in a place you will see it daily. Sometimes it helps to share these resolutions with a friend. Once you do, it's like a contract; you will feel an obligation to follow through and your friend can be supportive in this.

Keeping a journal about your progress with the resolution(s) can be helpful too. Today, I got an e-mail about a new Squido Lens on journaling that I'd like to pass along.
It's brief but has links to some nice journal related sites such as How To Write A Journal Entry: Useful information if you've never kept a journal but want to start. See also A Creative Journal, How To Write Meaningful Journal Entries:

You may rightly guess that I'm a fan of journals. When I taught writing, I made journaling a part of my students' assignments and insisted on meaningful entries. Of course, all that was prefaced by explaining why I wanted them to journal, how it was good for them. If you haven't tried journaling, let me give you a brief list of reasons why you should: writing - anything - a little evey day improves your writing skills; writing about problems and concerns lessens stress (seriously, there are studies to prove this!); writing about issues on which you must make a decision helps you focus your thoughts and come to a decision more easily; writing down resolutions or plans of action makes those things more concrete and making them more concrete helps you take action. I could go on, but you get the picture, don't you?

Do I keep a journal? Yes, but I'm not one to make a rule about writing in it every day. However, I do writing of some sort everyday. Do I have a preference for writing in a book or on paper or writing on the computer? I sure do! I recommend journaling on paper as opposed to on computer. And, personally, I prefer college ruled notebook paper and a loose leaf binder to bound journals. Bound journals can be beautiful and appealing as books, great for shelving. However, I find them awkward to write in. If it's awkward, I'm less likely to write in it. I need lines! and I like to be able to remove pages without ripping them out. So, for me, ruled notebook paper and binder work the best. Another reason I choose paper instead of the computer for journaling is that writing something out by hand, you can use techniques to trick the inner censor in your brain and therefore say what you really mean. When you type on a computer keyboard, you are at a distance from your words, and if you're not a real typist (I'm not) you really have to think about what you are typing out and watch for mistakes that might make your page unreadable at a later time. Freewriting (a technique to trick the inner censor) doesn't really work on the computer. Okay, some typists might disagree with me saying their fingers can quickly carry out the mind's commands for words without censoring, but I really doubt it. So you don't get any surprises and any amazing insights like you can by writing quickly on a page.

Also, you can't as easily think through ideas on the computer like you can on a piece of paper. For instance, an idea comes to you for a theme for a new project. On a piece of paper, you can go off into doing a clustering exercise to generate more thoughts on the subject. On a computer, you can make a list. Not as spontaneous and not as easy to draw lines connecting one idea to another. And paper allows you to paste in color swatches, photos, appealing images from magazines, draw sketches. etc. Those things can make a journal more interesting. Granted, I've not kept a visual journal before. I don't have much in the way of drawing skills and I've tended to clip images etc and put aside for collage making; even when the appealing images really aren't the sort of things that would work in the collages I make. Lol. However, I plan to start a visual journal this month and see how it goes. Something new. A new year should have some new activities, don't you think?

Resolutions - am I making any? Part of me wants to say no, and just be grateful for each day and live in the moment. Part of me that loves lists, wants me to think through what improvements I can make in various areas of my life. There are plenty of improvements to make, to be sure. However, I'm reading the Tao De Ching (Wayne Dyer's version in Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life) and today I am practicing the wisdom of acting not planning. For this moment, acting is writing about resolutions and journaling. That done, I'm going to go make some papers for the DDD February mega.

Best of luck on your New Year's Resolutions. One final thought: if you need help deciding on a resolution, here is an easy one you can carry out. Resolve to practice one RAK (random act of kindness) each week. It doesn't have to be anything big. Any gesture or words that convey kindness, comfort, love to another human being; expect nothing in return. Every day is full of opportunities for this. Then you might privately journal at the end of the month about how this has enriched your life and that of those around you.

Let us all strive to make 2009 a more peaceful and loving year.

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