Happy New Year to you all! Though I rarely do anything more spectacular than cracking open some sparkling grape juice for New Year’s Eve—I am still a big fan of ringing in the New Year. Perhaps this love for New Year’s Eve is more symbolic than related to the celebrations involved with the night (though the celebrating IS pretty fun). I’m really big into making goals, sticking to them and then celebrating when I reach them. I’ve realized that this is my pattern for success. I make goals constantly but there is something special about making goals on January 1st.
I love New Year’s goals because they are so easy to measure and reflect on each year. As I look back on 2015 I realize that so many really amazing, life changing things have happened to me as an author and as a person in this one year. I’m not going to bore you all by listing them but closing out the year with WRECKAGE on the list for the top 100 Best Sellers in the Kindle Store for 2015 represents the crazy, exciting things that have happened in my debut year. It is a little intimidating following up such an awesome year with a list of goals for 2016 but I don’t know where this “secret writer” would be without lofty goals.
As I’ve been pondering and writing down my goals for the new year I realized that my biggest goal for 2016 is not exactly writing related. This new goal (well, actually two goals) became clear to me just a week ago on Christmas. I’d spent a busy few days visiting family and opening presents and participating in traditions. All of it had been pretty much a big blur of wrapping paper, food and fun until my best friend asked me one key question, “What was your favorite present?” I hesitated. I’d received plenty of great items, some thoughtful, some fancy, some just plain utilitarian. I appreciated every single one but my first inclination was to say that the most pricey item was my favorite. Then I stopped and thought about the present that made me smile the most, the first one that came to mind when someone asked how my Christmas had been. That present was a simple pair of Levis jeans.
You guys need to know that I’m bad at buying clothes for myself. Most of the time I am cool with hanging out in an old pair of jeans, holes and all. But I know that this is not exactly acceptable for all social occasions (and that one pair that is so threadbare it’s nearly see-through is only good for sitting inside and writing all day). So, every year I ask for jeans (that I can wear in public) and every year I get a pair of jeans from someone in my family. When I place that item on my “Christmas wish list” I inevitably get the normal questions—What size are you? What type of jeans do you want? What color? In the past I’d say I didn’t care, I’d take any color, any style and then I used to do something really dumb…I’d tell them to get me one size bigger than I actually wear. Why? Cause I’d rather wear jeans that are too big than too small. Because I’m always worried that the winter months will make me pack on a little extra padding and then they won’t fit. Because…Yeah. These are all supremely bad reasons.
This year I made some changes. When it was time to make a Christmas list for family I decided that I’d ask for what I needed and get over my little quirk. I needed dark blue jeans, the right size, boot cut. I didn’t care the brand. I didn’t care if they were generic or expensive; I finally decided that I wanted a pair of jeans that fit me instead of the ones I’d been swimming in. When Christmas morning rolled around, I’d almost forgotten about my step into bravery when I wrote my list weeks earlier. So, when I opened that present and saw a pair of jeans in my exact size, I panicked a little. What if I’d been wrong?
But when I put on those jeans and they fit perfectly (SO perfectly) I realized something—I need to start asking for what I need more often in my life. I need to start believing in myself more consistently, making decisions without being concerned about the judgment of others or fearing failure. Those jeans are not my favorite present because they are incredibly comfortable (and just happen to make my bum look pretty awesome) but because they are a great example of what happens when I know myself well enough to be able to ask for what I need. I can now see how stunningly silly it was for me to walk around all these years in clothes that didn’t fit me because I was afraid to speak up, or, gracious, even just go out and grab a pair for myself! How many other times have I held back and settled for something “good enough” when “perfect fit” was just a brave request away?
As a result of what I’m calling the “jeans revelation,” I have two big goals this year. These are not my only goals but they come before all the others, almost like a prefix. My first goal is to know myself well enough to be able to pinpoint what I want and need in my life and career. My second is to be more verbal about those needs. In writing maybe this means being willing to reach out and ask for help getting the word out about my upcoming release, or asking for help from my writer’s group on particularly difficult story points or being willing to speak up more often in revisions or negotiations. In my life, it could mean getting a sitter for my kids so I can make a deadline instead of staying up till three am night after night to fit it in. I feel like putting these goals in front of allll my other more concrete goals for the year will only serve to provide me with added success. I mean, who else do I have to blame but myself if I’m not willing to speak up?
Here is one thing I know for sure—I’m never going to let myself walk around in jeans that are falling off of me because I’m too afraid, too worried or too insecure to find the right fit…both literally and figuratively. I hope you’ll join me in this effort. Let’s make 2016 a year of exploring who you are, what you need and then refusing to be afraid to ask for it.