A New Year, On Your Terms By Martin Haworth

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Martin Haworth as he shares with us “A New Year, On Your Terms.” Enjoy!


New year. New start. New resolutions. Or maybe not.

It’s a tradition at this time of year to look back and to look forward. We often take a little time to review our achievements and, if we’re honest and realistic, we give ourselves a pat on back and say “well done” for doing the best we were able; for being the best we could have been, taking everything into account.

In January, it is also traditional to take a peek into our future, at a nice round year of the things we want to accomplish. We take  a little time to set out our stall to do our best to get there.

Not the greatest time to be accurate about the future and our capacity to deliver — at least for those in the Northern hemisphere — when the weather and light are at their most dismal. We are stuffed and still feeling full after the Christmas festivities. Our credit cards are at the limit too.

Over the years, many of us have created New Year’s resolutions. These often fall by the wayside, and often in the first few days of January!

I’m no different to anyone else. In the past, I’ve attempted to variously lose weight, or push through a dry January (luckier than some, I never had to stop smoking because I never started.) I’m not taken with Veganuary either, because even though I eat little red meat, that’s a step too far! 

With experience, I acknowledge I don’t want to fret about my New Year’s resolutions. But I do like to consider things I’d like to achieve over the next 12 months. I want an insight of where I could spend my time.

So, I don’t set specific goals for my year; they don’t add value. I know how I will feel if I fall short.

I was reminded of this the other day, when I came across an article by coach friend of mine, Ali Davies on “4 Reasons Why You Should NOT Be Setting Goals.” You’ll find the link to her article here.  I encourage you to read it. I was so taken by it that I wrote a comment to support her ideas on goals. You can scroll down on her page to find out what I said there.

On a related note, Chris Hardy talks in a recent weekly newsletter about the book, Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze by Sven Brinkmann.  In a cute, self-deprecating way, Chris describes the book as something of an anti-self-development book. As a coach himself (as I am) this seemed to be against our interests. Chris’s comments are enough to help me recognize that the way forward is to be who more of you are — gentler and less demanding of ourselves, whilst still making progress. By the way, further dialogue with Chris defines me as a Stoic. I’m good with this, I have found my home.

So this year, I will work on a few “goal” sort of things.

During the last 12 months, I’ve experienced a few things in my writing and learned a lot. It’s always difficult when you change direction to understand whether you are avoiding an uncomfortable challenge as per Neale Donald Walsch’s “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” or because stepping back from something is closer to the real you.

This has been a dilemma in my writer’s journey over the last year. Am I running away from something, or am I filtering out things to focus what works most for me?

In 2016, I completed my first NaNoWriMo novel. I sought feedback from a good editor (15 pages!) and then realized it was too much hassle for me to fix it, despite many positive comments. This put me off writing for a while until I realized that I still enjoy making up stories.

So, I wrote short stories, entered a few in competitions, and sent more in for 12 Short Stories in 12 Months. It’s free and comes with a single 24 hours when you can post every month to a specific topic and word count. The people are nice, supportive and give valuable constructive feedback. And I love it!

For 2018, I’m going to continue with this short story challenge.

The other loose goal for my writing this year is produce several novellas to market. I have an achievable number in my head. I will play with this idea and see how it pans out. So far, two are written and two more are in progress.

If I have a mantra, this year, it’s this: it’s only worth doing if I’m have fun!

I have in mind Ray Bradbury quote:

“Write a short story every week.
It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

This is tempting, but is it too much, with everything else going on? I’m not sure yet, but the first one is written!

These are my “goals but no goals” in this first month of 2018.

What are your “goals but not goals” for 2018?

Above all, enjoy your year and, as you move forward, be gentle with yourself.

That’s all you need to do. Happy New Year!



Martin HaworthMartin Haworth is a coach, trainer and would-be fiction author with a manuscript that “needs work.” He lives in Gloucester, England and has two grown-up kids and three grandchildren. He loves walking, travel, and supporting Burnley Football Club. Check out his website at http://martinhaworth.com.

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