It’s a weird time to be in China right now. The Western New Year has come; the Chinese New Year is yet to come. This year, it’s only one month, since Chinese New Year is on January 31. It still gives a man plenty of time to think.
Like everyone else, I make New Year’s Resolutions and like everyone else, I break a lot of them. In 2013, I achieved two of my resolutions: I wrote more than 100,000 words total (almost 150k!), and I scored more than 50 on my DELF. I had six resolutions all together, and I know one third is a damn sight better than most people manage.
In 2014, I feel lucky. I’m setting seven this year, across all fields of endeavor. I’m announcing them here and now to burn my boats behind me and prevent any attempt at retreat.
I want to graduate cum laude from Northeastern University this May and wrap up my studies in June.
I’ve been doing this online schooling gig for four years now, through expulsions, continental shifts, job losses, five moves, and, oh yeah, living in China for most of the time. Graduation is so close I can taste it.
Stretch goal – Graduate magna cum laude.
#2. Write 200,000 words
I want to lay down 4,000 words a week throughout 2014.
Production is the only way I’m going to have more to sell. I managed to write two novels last year, I could probably manage four this year, or two and a bunch of short stories, or three and some short stories. I have options.
Stretch goal – 250,000 words. The Quarter Million, baby!
#3. Flirt in Cantonese
By June 1, 2014, I want to be able to carry on a conversation in Cantonese in one or two subjects that I know.
I can hear the bitching now: Why not Mandarin? Or Spanish? Some sensible language? I’ll tell you. I’ve been studying Mandarin for four years, banging my head against a wall for the last three. I can get a taxi, buy vegetables, and order a water bottle or a pizza, but anything much more involved than that and I’m sunk. That’s after four years, and people still mistake my Mandarin for English. On the other hand, I enjoy speaking Cantonese, enjoy listening to Cantonese, and am actually passably good at it. I have a very limited vocabulary, but that’s a solvable problem. I’ve found a Cantonese teacher that I plan to meet twice a week, and as I live in Canton, I intend to go out and practice.
Stretch goal – none on this one.
#4. Earn $1,500 in sales
I want to earn $1,500 total in book and story sales across all channels by December 31.
I’m already part of the way here, I sold copies of all my extant stories on the 2nd. I ran the numbers, and realized with what I have, what’s going up, and what I’m planning to write and put on sale this year, using industry averages and the necessary equations, I could make $6,000. So I cut that number in half, because I dated Torie Gervais for two years and she taught me to actually be skeptical about money. Then I cut it in half again, because life is crazy. Given the upticks in positive comments, sales, and visitors to this blog since the 1st, and the fact that my marketing’s barely started, I am cautiously optimistic that I can sell $1,500 worth of fiction by December 31.
Stretch goal – $3,000.
#5. Live well.
I want to sleep from 1-10AM unless I have something to do, cook decent meals twice a week, get a massage once a week, stretch and do breath counting every morning, and shower every night before bed. I want these to be my habitual practices by April 1.
This is a grab-bag resolution of treating myself well. Making these my everyday habits and practices will go a long way to solving certain chronic issues in my life, such as the love-hate relationship with sleep and the way my diet goes out the window when I’m feeling down. These are also essential foundations for my mental and physical health, which should help with the other resolutions somewhat.
Stretch goal – massage twice a week, cook thrice a week.
When I am in Quaker country on a given Sunday, I will locate the closest Meeting and attend. If not, I will sit in the Discipline of Solitude myself on Sunday morning.
I think this, more than anything, will deepen my relationship with the Divine. The capacity to sit in quietness, and learn to discern the leading of God. As much as having a Meeting close by helps, if I need to go alone, I need to go alone.
Stretch goal – Also practice one of the other Disciplines ((fasting, study, simplicity, meditation, submission, service, or prayer) from Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.
#7. Earn my Black Belt.
I want to resume my karate practice and qualify for my black belt.
This is the big one. This is the one makes my heart go pitter-patter. I can’t jump back in, so I’m staging it: I want to do the daily dozen OR karate OR tai chi twice a week by February 1, thrice a week by April 1, and daily by June 1.
Stretch goal – Test for my black belt.