I’ve decided to take a different tack this year and slow my thoughts down. It’s not that I don’t have goals, but it’s clear I need a strong, careful approach.
One reason is since entering this current phase of menopause, I’ve noticed I can’t always remember what I should be doing at any given moment. One website said “memory lapses” and “an inability to concentrate” were common symptoms. I can vouch for that.
The main reason for my caution is the coming year will be full of an exciting but daunting agenda, which includes buying a car, building a home and moving into it, finding representation for my new novel, and a refocus on my health.
Three of these require superhero-like qualities.
Building a home is said to be one of the biggest marriage stressors in existence. I even found articles online about how to build a home without getting divorced. Images from the black comedy, “The War of the Roses,” are implanted firmly in my head, a movie where a couple demolish their beautiful house in the process of an ugly divorce.
My husband and I have already renovated one home — a 125-year-old folk Victorian (for sale later this year!) — and survived, but it was tough and I learned some big lessons, including don’t ever move into an unfinished house. Because it will never get finished. This also calls to mind another favorite movie, “The Money Pit,” about a home that looks great on the surface but requires endless cash to repair and “about two weeks” (over and over again) as a time estimate for each overhaul.
Finding an agent and getting my novel published is also a formidable task. First up is editing the beast, requiring a micro and macro review of every word. Then I go on the hunt for representation. This isn’t my first rodeo, and receiving rejection letters — or worse, not hearing back at all — is never easy on the ego, or soul. This time out though, I’m cautiously optimistic. My subject matter and writing are all substantially better than prior attempts.
And in the number three spot is the attention on health. Staying on top of my nutrition and overall wellness is a daily mission. Doing it amongst a busy schedule, fluctuating hormones and moods, mishaps, travel and name-your-wrench-in-plans here, requires careful planning as there are more ways to sabotage good intentions than I can count.
So what does it mean to plan a good approach? For starters, just like Cool Hand Luke said, “I got my mind right, boss.” This year calls for serious mental fortitude, and the way to begin is by realizing I need it, and reminding myself on the regular to keep it rolling. Hopefully, I won’t need to spend a night in “the box” (solitary confinement) to jog my memory.
Second, I’m creating a strategy. Nothing happens by itself (other than weed growing, which proliferates all on its own) so I need lists, a schedule and some method of accountability for all actions.
Third, I need to review my weaknesses and derailers. How do I lose or waste time, and what can I do to eliminate or curb inefficiencies? I’m sure I’ll be scared to see how much time I actually spend on Facebook. When I’m in productivity mode, I need balance — between work, fun, movement and life’s necessities (no, cleaning the house can’t go out the window).
Finally, I need to implement, test things out and adjust as necessary. Planning doesn’t mean perfection, and I’m way over that concept anyway. I’m just shooting for solid output and then I can reassess if it’s not working out.
I feel good about this overall idea. Most New Year resolutions or crazes become a flash in the pan, leaving skid marks in their wake. I’m looking for a lasting proposition that yields positive results and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.
If that fails, there’s always the couch, junk food and plenty of bad television.
This column appeared in The Journal on Sunday, January 10, 2016.