By now, you've probably made New Year's Resolutions if you were going to. But if you haven't and you're a little behind (Resolution: Better time management!), I'd like to make a modest suggestion:
Don't do it.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a planner. You know that.
But a New Year's Resolution is like the worse parts of business planning: It's wanting to write for the New Yorker but not querying them. It's wanting to exercise but not putting on your running shoes. As you can tell, I disdain them.
But it's not for lack of trying them. Like my fellow freelancer Jenny Cromie, I've had the experience of making a lot of resolutions whose only purpose seems to be to give me something to feel bad about. It's like the term "me-time." Don't you just want to throw your running shoe and your New Yorker at the screen when I write that? A cloying phrase that belies the very real conflicts we all do have in our days that make me-time another bludgeon with which to pummel ourselves.
Instead of a resolution, consider adopting a guiding principle. Mine is gentleness.
Here's why: My business plan is ambitious. And I am, in general, a pretty ambitious person. But all that ambition can sometimes tip over into obsessive self-judgement--a state I like to call, simply, self-cruelty.
It doesn't help and it often hurts me by blinding me to what I've done well and keeping me so self-obsessed that I can't be of service to my clients. Nothing derails me and sucks the serenity out of the room like self-cruelty.
So for me, the guiding principle for 2009 is gentleness.
For you, it may be different: If you make plans you don't keep, it may be discipline. If you tend toward the negative side of the street, maybe it's optimism or kindness.
And then, when I start feeling uncomfortable with something I'm doing, I ask myself, "Is this gentle? If not, is there a gentler way to get the same result?"
That, I'd say, is a much better use of my prognostic abilities.
What's your guiding principle?