Notes from Candice Ransom

Resolutions? Goals? Or Status Quo?

My only artwork in 2018

In exercise class this week, various instructors asked us if we’d made resolutions, or had goals for the new year.  At 66, I am over resolutions.  How much of my life can I meaningfully change at this stage?  It’s enough to keep moving forward and maintain goals made in the last few years.  Watch my weight, eat right (big slips the last two months!), 10,000 steps.  Work goals remain the same: keep writing each day if I can.

On Facebook, I skimmed past friends’ plans and goals.  Many of us use the New Year to set a new course.

As for planning, in past years I’ve bought every kind of planner known to man to help me figure it out.  I’ve long been seduced by Bullet Journaling, not for its practical aspect, but for the gorgeous pages I see on BuJo sites.  Who wouldn’t want to decorate their daily pages with watercolor stories or lovely handwritten titles?  I have a box of journaling supplies and how-to books, but in the evenings, after a long day of work, supper, dishes, laundry, and separating cats who tear through the house like it’s a gymnasium, I have little energy for painting morning glories or making calligraphy entries.  In the mornings, I’m up before 6:00 to sort out cats, do household chores, shower, and be out the door by 7:10 to go to exercise.  I’m not likely to fill out a Bullet Journal then, either.

By Journalella

Planners with templates to plot out the future don’t work for me, either.  It’s impossible for me to project what I’d like to be doing five years from now.  But what did work for me last year–and was quite eye-opening–was a daily record of what I’d done.  To-do lists and daily or weekly tear-off pages get tossed.  I designed a weekly template, made 52 photocopies, and put them into a 3-ring binder.  Each evening while I watched TV (or “boxed sets” as they say in England, since we don’t have cable or Direct TV or stream), I listed everything I’d accomplished that day, from emails to research to chapters written.  I’ll keep the binder for 2018 and have already started one for 2019.

Why keep track of what we’ve done as opposed to making future plans?  Because we tend to forget our daily accomplishments.  I know I wrote eight books last year (many were very short) and taught two classes.  But how did those books get written?  Or revised?  What happened in the weeks I taught?  I was amazed at how much work I did in a single day.  Unlike artists, writers don’t have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  Words on a screen, shut away in a computer file, and we may delete it all the next day.  Not much to see.

If I’ve learned anything over the last ten years, it’s that I have to keep learning.  I never got an undergraduate degree, and by the time I started graduate school at the ripe age of 50, I worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I did, though I sweated out those papers!

So I don’t have any resolutions or goals for 2019.  But I’m not exactly staying status quo, either.  I’m giving myself the gift of learning.  Starting today, I begin an online course through Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab: “Comprehensive Bird Biology.”  I have a real textbook and a new notebook.  (I opened up the textbook when I got it to a page with a bird cut open–well, I asked for it!)  When I finish in about three months, I’ll have a certificate in a subject I’ve wanted to learn since I was ten years old.

Next, I’ll find a course in geology.  Let the wonder continue.

10 thoughts on “Resolutions? Goals? Or Status Quo?”

  1. I do that, too. I keep a separate computer document with that day’s output. Then there are weeks that I can’t get to it–it’s depressing to see how much time had passed!

    Happy New Year!

  2. Great idea!! We have to remember to reward ourselves for our small accomplishments, but first, we have to acknowledge them! I envy your Cornell class – that sounds fascinating! 🙂 e

    • It really is the small things–we may cross off our to-do list, but do we record things like an email exchange, or a new website discovery, or an interest that went into a different direction, or a new book? A record of accomplishments, yes, but also a record of those little things we stumbled on and forgot.

      The course is amazing–I’m a real biology student!

  3. Good to hear from you. I never do resolutions either.I try to carry new patterns into the new year and leave old patterns in the old year. I write a list. Example: old pattern. not listening. New pattern: listening to what people say, not what I project they are saying.
    it helps me…

    • Happy New Year, Patty! This blog needs tending, hoping to post more often than the past few years! I like your list idea of patterns, which can also be substituted for habits. Not listening and projecting is a terrible habit I have. Sometimes I won’t even let the person finish their sentence before butting in. Need to fix that, too.

  4. Loved this post! As a writer (non-fiction by day; fiction by candlelight) I can often feel like there is nothing to show for a full day’s work. This becomes so acute sometimes that I say “yes” to some activities just to feel more accomplished. And then I find those activities interrupting writing and/or simply overwhelming me (because I’m an introvert after all, which is one reason I write for a living). I love the “Done did that” list idea. I imagine it may help me find more closure in the evenings and maybe even excitement for the next day. “If I did this, what else could I do???” Anyway, thank you, Candice. You are always challenging status quo, and I appreciate the work and the work-of-mind that that implies. What you put into your days and writing is helpful for all of us readers. Happy New Year!

    • Love the nonfiction by day, fiction by candlelight image! And I do the same as you do–go off and do something just to feel I’ve actually moved or saw something besides my office walls. Some days, my “done” list is pretty boring. Nothing happened beyond what I set out to do. But other days lovely things will drop into my lap (or inbox) and those I tend to forget about long-term. Thanks for reading and a happy, productive 2019 to you, too!

  5. So funny – I remember when Jackie Howard in your “My Sister the Meanie” books told her teacher she wanted to be an ornithologist. As a kid it was the first time I had heard the word! Enjoy your course – learning is a wonderful thing!

    • Oh, my goodness! I haven’t thought about those books in 30 years! I’ve totally forgotten that Jackie wanted to be an ornithologist! Of course, Jackie was me and Sharon was my sister, waiting for each publication date of the trilogy with a baseball bat (I actually toned her down!).


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