Dear Me Official Contest Entry, January 2010.
Well, 2009 didn’t turn out quite the way we had hoped, did it? Being laid off at work was frustrating, but you and I both know that the real disappointment last year was another 365 days going by without making any significant progress toward our personal and professional goals.
But that was last year and this letter is about moving forward, not looking back. 2010 is going to be the year to start making positive changes in our life. It’s a new year, a new decade, and a new opportunity to start on the long path toward success. Our past failures are behind us and there’s nothing but the future stretching out ahead.
Although we could probably come up with a laundry list of resolutions together, this year we’re going to talk about general areas of your life that need improvement. This year, you need to focus on:
Reading & Reviewing on WDC
This is the year that we’re going to stop fooling ourselves into believing that thinking about writing is the same thing as actually writing. While brainstorming is an important part of the creative process, daydreaming about what stories to tell isn’t the same thing. This year, we will not allow ourselves to believe that thinking about what we want to write is good enough. This year, we will write two novels, two screenplays, and at least fifty shorter works (essays, short stories, articles, etc.). The reality is that writers write, and if we still want people to take our writing seriously, we need to start seriously writing. We need to start getting some projects under our belt, so we can focus on finally getting this writing career of ours off the ground.
This is going to be the tough one. We don’t like to exercise and we always feel like we don’t have time to go for a run. But we’ve been overweight for almost five years now, and do we really want to go to our high school reunion this year with a gut hanging over our belt and being out of breath from jogging up a couple flights of stairs? As much as we don’t like exercising, you know the honest truth is that we don’t like being overweight and out of shape anymore. There was a time in our life when we were physically fit, and it was great. We felt good about our body, and we felt more confident than we do now. So the real question for 2010 is whether we’re actually going to find the thirty minutes a day to commit to an exercise routine, or if we’re going to arrive at that high school reunion self-conscious about our body image? Please don’t let another year go by thinking about what might have been. Make a change this year and give us the opportunity to feel good about ourselves again.
One of the biggest problems we have is motivation. We always set unrealistic goals like, “We’re going to run thirty minutes a day, every day.” And when there inevitably comes a day when we can’t go for a run (and there will be those days), we easily fall into the trap of letting another day go by, and another... and then getting discouraged because a week has gone by and we haven’t run at all. So this year, we’re going to set a realistic goal for ourselves. The idea is to get in shape, not shed a predetermined amount of pounds in a predetermined amount of time, so we’re going to set a goal this year that anticipates those “off” days and gives us permission not to feel bad about them. If we can go for a run four days a week, it may take a little longer to lose the weight than if we ran religiously every day, but in exchange, it gives us permission to lapse without discouraging the entire effort. You can do it.
READING & REVIEWING ON WDC
There’s really nothing too detailed to say here; we did roughly 300 reviews last year, and nearly 1,400 the year before. Granted, we unquestionably write better reviews than we used to (which take more time), but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be reviewing more. We love to read items here on WDC, and reviewing is an activity that’s both satisfying and enjoyable. Quite simply, this year we need to review more items. As of the end of January, we’ve already done 40 reviews, which is a good start. If we can keep up the pace, there’s no reason why we can’t give 500 good reviews this year. Keep up the practice of reviewing almost everything you read, just read and review more!
Hard work had never been a problem for us. We’ve always been willing to put in long hours working and training to make sure that we’re more than capable of handling any task at work. That doesn’t need to change; what does is that in addition to working hard, it’s time to start working smart. It’s time to start recognizing when we’re crossing the line between doing a good job and going so far above and beyond that we’re letting people take advantage of us. There’s nothing wrong with telling people “no”, and it’s not an indication of inability or laziness. We work hard every day, and it’s time to be confident in that work ethic and also assert that we will not continue to give and give, freely and without expectation of reciprocation. This is the year where we will be proactive about our career goals, and stop waiting around for colleagues and employers to realize our worth on their own. We will continue to work hard for people who appreciate and reward hard work, and we will move on sooner rather than later from the people who don’t.
The most difficult thing we’re going to attempt this year is to be more honest, with ourselves and with others. People-pleasing has always been second nature to us; we want people to be happy and we want them to get what they want. The problem is, lately we’ve been making more promises than we’ve been able to keep... and it’s time to make a distinction between telling people what they want to hear, and telling people what we actually intend to do. By promising the moon and the stars and not following through, we’re doing far more damage to our own self-worth and how other people perceive us, than if we had just been honest about what we could and couldn’t do in the first place.
We’re not perfect, and we can’t do everything. This year is the year that we’re going to admit that to ourselves and start regaining people’s trust by making good on our promises. That’s going to require telling people that dreaded two letter word (“no”) sometimes, but at the end of the year, our goal is to have family and friends trust that when we do say “yes”, even if it may not be that often, we really will do what we’ve agreed to do.
The years are going by faster and faster now, and the world grows increasingly more complicated. One day, there will be kids and a mortgage payment and increasingly complex family issues to deal with. Life isn’t going to get any easier, and if this change isn’t made now, it might never be, as the temptation to just tell people what they want to hear and avoid confrontation has a strong pull. But we don’t want to be the colleague... the husband... the father... that always says he will and then doesn’t because there’s not enough time in the day. We want to be the man that people can trust to follow through when he says he will. This is the year that we will lay the foundation that will rebuild our self image and our image to others, and make ourselves into the man we truly want to be.
No matter what else happens this year, we need to keep moving forward. Life isn’t a spectator sport, and this is the year where we need to take control of our own destiny and make our own choices that will affect our success and happiness. We may not always make the right choices, and mistakes will be a fixture of 2010, just as they are every other year... but it’s not the mistakes or the choices that make for a bad year so much as the regrets. Even if we make so many mistakes this year that we lose count, don’t let one of them be the regret that we allowed another year to pass us by without making a conscious, positive change in our life. If we must regret something, please don’t let it be the regret that we didn’t do more.
Change (especially change for the better) isn’t going to come find us. We need to make it happen, and this year is the year to do it. It’s a new year, a new decade, and a new opportunity to start on the long path toward success. Our past failures are behind us and there’s nothing but the future stretching out ahead.
Don’t just hope that 2010 is a good year... make it a good year.