The best New Year's resolution I ever made was so wonderful that it's the same resolution I make every year. I'm offering it here to all of you:
Fill every day with creative joy.
I modified it a bit so that any kind of joy counts. When it comes to joy, I'm not all that fussy.
The guiding principle for this resolution is the instruction attributed to William Law: "Be intent on the perfection of the present day." Because that's all we have, really. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, not even the whole huge swelling total of the long unbroken line of yesterdays and tomorrows, but just the twenty-four hours of today. If I'm going to fill my life with creative joy, I need to start by filling my days with creative joy. That is to say, by filling TODAY.
As a dabbler in time management literature, I know that goals have to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Related. My joy goal is attainable and realistic, given that I have a generous threshold for what counts as joy and I'm willing to accept that some days are bound to be marked by unbearable sorrow, tortured worry, and the rest of the human condition. It's time-related: the time is TODAY. It could be more specific and measurable, though. What kind of creative joy? How will I know for sure that I've had some?
So I keep in my trusty little notebook a list of ideas for creative joy, in case I get confused on what it would look like. Here are a few:
1. Write. Just write. A day with writing in it is already, for me, a day with its full quota of creative joy. But to up the joy quotient of your day, read on.
2. Write somewhere interesting. Keep a list of places you would like to write. I keep making vows to take my clipboard, pad, and pen (I write by hand, which makes this easier) and go sit on a bench near a beautiful trail, or in the art museum in Denver, or the inviting reading room at the Women's Studies Cottage the the university. Maybe this is the year I'll actually keep those vows.
3. Write with friends. Make writing dates, as Natalie Goldberg suggests in Writing Down the Bones. Organize a write-in, as my friend Jeannie Mobley Tanaka (Katerina's Wish, Searching for Silverheels) does whenever her husband is off on a business trip and she has her house to herself (well, to herself and a bunch of other writers).
4. Eat a luscious little treat when you write. It doesn't have to be a healthy treat, either.
5. Go for a walk when you need a break from writing. Walk somewhere beautiful. Notice its beauty while you're walking.
6. Walk with a friend. Make a walking date instead of a lunch date (thus totally making up for the unhealthy treat).
7. If no friend is handy, call a friend from afar and talk to her as you walk. I'd almost forgotten how much I adore the old-school communication device of the telephone, not to text on, but to TALK on. It can be like junior high school again! Or at least junior high school for those of us who remember talking to girlfriends by the hour with the phone cord stretched as far as it could go so we could crouch in the laundry room for some privacy.
8. Go on a writing retreat. Go by yourself to a bed and breakfast in the mountains. Or by the sea. Or anywhere.
You get the idea!
The best part of this resolution is that you'll WANT to keep it. This isn't a dutiful pledge to force yourself to do something you don't down deep really want to do. It's permission to do the thing you love most in the most joyous possible way.
So do it!