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Writing to your Future Self

Writing to your Future Self

So it’s already the second week of January, and I remain resolution-less. 

I could be making a list and I know all the usual suspects: write more, read more, eat healthy food, drink lots of water. The exercise component has shifted to yoga and floor exercises since I can’t do walking/skiing/line dancing now. Turns out my hip has severe osteoarthritis. I’d really like a new hip but time will tell.

Since I started this blog, I’ve had various approaches to the New Year’s Resolution:

  • In the beginning, 2012, I simply listed my resolutions and hoped for the best. New Year’s Resolutions.
  • In 2013, I talked about what Smart Goals are, and I made an “Un-Resolution List”.
  • For 2014, it was Setting Intentions.
  • And then in 2015, although it was not specifically about Resolutions, I looked up the Stages of Exercise.
  • I listed some . . . things to do in the New Year . . . for 2016. It was a pretty laissez-faire approach but it seemed to work as well as anything specific.
  • The next year, I think I gave up.
  • By 2018, I had found A different take on Goal Setting which is to simply not talk about it. The idea is that by stating your goal to the world, you actually decrease your chances of achieving it. The STATING gives you all kinds of approbation before you actually do anything. So, go ahead and make that goal, but don’t announce it. Not until you’ve achieved it.

This year, I’ve found a new approach. Instead of simply making that list, you talk to yourself about what you’d like to do in this new year. Then answer yourself at a later date. At that time, you might get a nudge from your Future Self to try again, or, you might see progress. Often we do make progress, but we don’t notice it because the progression is glacially slow.

Incidentally, my school of nursing motto was Persistent in Progress.

Hamilton and District School of Nursing crest

Hamilton and District School of Nursing crest


One way to talk to yourself is to journal.

That’s an ongoing thing and sometimes we don’t take the time to go back and see what we wrote. The progress, if there is any, does not stand out.

Another way to talk to yourself is to write yourself a letter.

And have it delivered to you next January. Or maybe on June 30 at that halfway point of the year. Or maybe even on this date next month.

Of course, there is an app for this. It’s called future me.

You can sign up for free. There’s also a premium option for $3 per year if you don’t want to see ads.

I think I wrote a letter to Me sometime in December. I’m pretty sure I scheduled it to send sometime in January. I wonder what I will be telling Me?

Are you a resolution maker? Do you start off with new optimism each January? Or, do you prefer to remain resolution-less? Do you think a letter from You to You might be motivating, reassuring or even slightly interesting? Will you give it a try?

little girl writing a letter to her future self from Depositphotos #59092059


A different take on Goal Setting

A different take on Goal Setting

It’s that time of year, so I’m thinking about the traditional New Year’s Resolutions. Obviously, I’m not thinking about them too hard, because we are almost two weeks into the New Year and I haven’t done any concrete “resolving”.  

In other years, I’ve posted about New Year’s Resolutions and Smart Goals and Setting Intentions and basically planning a Good Year. And, while it’s a neat writing exercise, it’s never been a defining moment in my year.

Recently I came across a different way of looking at New Year’s Resolutions, or Goal Setting in general.  Because setting a goal doesn’t only happen in January.

In his 2010 Ted Talk, Derek Sivers talks about goals, and keeping your goals to yourself.

Keeping them to yourself?

In my writing groups, we often set goals at the start of the New Year, or at the end of the old one. We do this because it’s fun, and it’s motivational, and because we think it makes us “accountable”.

However, according to Derek Sivers, talking about your goals does not make you more accountable. In fact, it makes you less accountable.

You can watch the talk here. It’s only about 3 minutes long: Keep your goals to yourself.

Apparently, several tests have demonstrated that TELLING someone your goal makes it less likely for that goal to happen. Who knew?

The study he describes shows you why, and it makes a lot of sense.

But, at the end of each year, I still like doing this round robin thing of naming a goal—of saying my intention out loud to my writing friends. It’s fun, whether or not it works.

Maybe the takeaway is this: Go ahead and tell your friends what your goals are for the New Year. Just don’t talk about any goals that you actually WANT to achieve. Keep those special ones to yourself. 🙂

Inversion at Sunshine, and things to do in the New Year

Inversion at Sunshine, and things to do in the New Year

Yes, it’s the middle of January and you have not seen any goals or intentions from me. Or any thought at all of what I’m planning for the new year. I’m still thinking about it, and I guess I’m not really making resolutions. Mostly, I’m continuing to do what I’ve already been doing.  Like skiing.

Last Monday, I was skiing at Sunshine in cold weather. Normally, I like skiing. It makes the winter enjoyable. But on this particular day, I needed my mask and I didn’t think to bring it.

Yes, mask. When it’s really cold, we wear these neoprene masks. Combined with your goggles and helmet, your whole face is protected from the elements. So, no mask, but I did have mitt warmers. I always carry a package of disposable mitt warmers in my jacket.

Those of you from southern climes probably wonder what mitt warmers are.

They are made of iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon and salt, and they come sealed in plastic. Once you open the package, exposing them to air, they make heat. I don’t know why, they just do. Drop one in each mitt and soon your hands are warm.

As well as being cold, it was also misty, so the visibility was not that great. By lunchtime, my toes were cold and I was feeling tired.

After lunch, it was a different story. We rode up the new high-speed quad chairlift, the Tee Pee town chair. Here, we are enclosed in orange bubble covers and have heated seats. At the top of the lift, we schuss*  over to the Divide chair, which takes us to the top of the mountain.

(*a straight high-speed run on skis)

above the inversion

above the inversion

2016-01-15-20160111_141943sLook down there at all that fog!

Up here, it was beautiful and sunny and, compared to the bottom, warm! Normally, the air temperature decreases as altitude increases. On this day, Sunshine was experiencing a temperature inversion, so the temperature increased as we rode up the Divide chair.

Other resolutions/goals/plans/intentions for this year

  • Each morning on waking, I want to take a few moments to think about what I am grateful for. I will name three things, and treasure them. And then get out of bed.
  • I will keep line dancing.2016-01-15-suzannestengldotcom
  • I will drink lattes and create new worlds and publish at least one new book this year. Maybe two.2016-01-15coffee-s
  • In the summer, I will fly east to Ontario. And later in the summer, I will drive west to Whistler.

2016-01-16-2016-01-07-DSC00And I will enjoy being a new grandmother and loving this little guy.

I think it’s going to be a great year.

Teddy Bear and snowman

Pen from istockphoto.com #000014549265
Teddy bear from bigstockphoto.com #112866962

January – Setting Intentions

January – Setting Intentions

After all the activity of December, there’s something refreshing about turning the calendar page to January, even if it is the coldest month of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere).

January is named for the Roman god, Janus—the god of gates and doorways. As we pass through this figurative gate, January becomes a time for reassessing what worked last year and what you might do differently this year.

Last year I didn’t make any resolutions. Well, I made Un-Resolutions. This year I’m going for Phased Resolutions, which means I’m not making them all at once.

My resolution for January is to finish at least 250 Final Draft words a day. It can take ten times as many First Draft words to get the 250 Final Draft words, so this is a good goal for me. Sometimes I’m lucky and the first draft words equal the final draft words. That doesn’t happen often so I treasure those days. In my phased approach, if all goes well, I will increase that goal to 300 final draft words for February. And so on.

For organization, I may approach this by cleaning one closet on Saturday. Maybe I’ll begin with one shelf. Maybe, half a shelf. As they say, a job started is half done. Or I think the original quotation is: Well begun is half done.

That reminds me of a quotation Aunt Net has on her bathroom wall:

Never start a vast project with a half-vast plan.

This year, I’m also learning about Setting Intentions.

At the end of November, I started yoga class. I am still a major newbie, struggling to achieve at least a semblance of those poses and I have much to learn. One of the things I’ve learned is that yoga is a lot more than poses. It’s a way of Being. At the beginning of class, I hear the phrase—set your intention. Different intentions come to mind. This morning, the word Strength came to mind. I want to be stronger. On another day, my Intention is Calmness.

I like this idea of setting intentions far more than the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions or Setting Goals. Goals by definition are future-oriented and often end up being unrealistic and undoable.

“Setting an Intention” is very “In The Moment”. When I think about it, I KNOW what I need to do. And I am learning to trust “my knowing”.

 Do you Set Your Intention at the beginning of the day? Do you prefer the more future-oriented goal setting? Or do you like to simply go with the flow and be surprised by what actually gets done?

ice crystals from photos.com #177585546

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

 Just in time for Resolution Making, here are the 5 things that make up “SMART” GOALS.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
Instead of “lose weight”
  • join Weight Watchers this Saturday
  • walk for 15 minutes every day
  • buy carrots
Instead of “write every day”
  • set the timer for x minutes and keep my hands moving until the timer rings
  • produce 4 pages today
  • produce 4 pages by Monday
If the goal is too far out of reach, it will not motivate you.
Instead of “write a novel a month”
  • write one chapter a month (or two chapters, or three)
  • something that you have a possibility of achieving
  • but don’t make it TOO easy
Instead of “never eat sweets again”
  • I can have one chocolate a day with a cup of tea at 4 o’clock
If that is not realistic, start by limiting yourself to one box a day . . .
Set a timeframe such as
  • by Sunday
  • by Jan 31
  • by my next CARWA meeting
  • when the timer rings
Perhaps you don’t like the idea of setting goals and/or making resolutions?
Then I can highly recommend Tami Clayton’s blog about the Un-Resolution List which you can find here.

I love Tami’s approach and think I will follow suit this year. I will set some SMART goals (particularly for my writing) but I will keep an Un-Resolution List to think about, and do, in no particular order or timeframe.

My Un-Resolution List

Walk in the forest
Do angel wings in the water
Enjoy the moment
Read widely
Take pictures
Make photo albums
Treasure each day
Watch sunrises
Sip lattes with friends
Count stars
Learn about constellations
Dream of possibilities
Practice Spanish
Listen to ballads
Savour good wine
Talk to the dog
Encourage others
Add to this list

Do you make resolutions? Or do you prefer the fluidity and freedom of Un-Resolutions? Do you have a favourite resolution you make over and over?

Happy New Year! May 2013 bring you all you are hoping for.

I will close with the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
coffee bean 2013 from photos.com #155686049