Success, Failure and New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year’s resolution has long been a source of personal failure. As a child, I would handcraft a list of behavioral changes and specific goals I intended to accomplish the following year. I imagined that midnight on December 31st was as magical as Santa. I would wake on New Year’s Day refreshed and improved, capable of success in every imaginable way.

I was wrong. Every year I was wrong until I began to despise the changing of the calendar. I was not going to write X number or words every single day or chew my food X number of times or exercise for X number of minutes X times per week because you can’t plan life. You can only plan for life.

As an adult, I relearned how to set achievable goals. My first step was making my list smaller. The second was breaking up the items on the list into bite-sized pieces. Still, there was failure in the sense that not all boxes were checked come time for the ball to drop.

In the last few years I have redefined both failure and success. My goals remain fluid because I have recognized myself as fluid, as a person in a constant state of change. My goals today may not apply tomorrow. Priorities are subject to being reordered. And one item on a list might be achieved through the efficient accomplishment of another item. It all lies in perspective. It turns out there was success in failure all along.

This year, I have a one goal: it is to accomplish one project each month. I have not defined to myself what a project is outside of it feeling important. I excel at generating ideas and beginnings, but I frequently find my work unfinished. So, I decided to define only what it means for a project to be complete: I must be satisfied with what I have done. Ultimately, I am calling myself to engage with what is meaningful in my life at any point. Because there is no expectation of how long a project must be or take to complete, this is a practice in authenticity.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

0 Discussion to this post

  1. Creating something that eventually won’t become a complete project it is a far common practice. I know, I’ve been there too… and can’t say for sure that I won’t be there again!

    To be satisfied with what you do is a nice goal, and honest. I wish you that you reach it many times this year, as I expect to read more of The Docks! 😀


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