New Year’s Resolutions Update

At the end of last year, I made a post talking about my new year’s resolutions for 2020. Throughout 2019, I had discovered that I do much better with my resolutions if, instead of once a year, I revise them every three months. You might say this is more of a way to refine my personal schedule, since (if you’re doing it right) it’s not something that ends at the end of the year, but whatever you call it, it works…mostly. I was going to do the same thing this year and update you every three months on my progress.

And then COVID happened.

As you may know, I work at NASA, and I’m grateful that NASA has been very supportive of its employees and contractors through the pandemic. They transitioned surprisingly smoothly to most people working from home, and they’re also being very cautious about Coronavirus, so the current setup will likely continue into 2021.

However, this did throw off my carefully-refined schedule, and it’s only been in the past two months that I’ve gotten back on track. So, here’s that update I was going to give you. (I should have done this on September 30, but I was busy this week, and I do my weekly tracking Monday through Sunday anyway.)

At the beginning of the year, my resolutions were:

Writing
—Write 5,000 words per week across all of my projects. Completion rate 85%.
—Write 500 words after supper on nights when I don’t have anything else going on. Completion rate 65%.
—Write 1 blog post per week. Completion rate 64%.

Reading/Entertainment
—Read 1 chapter each of one audiobook and one paper book per week. (This is just so I don’t fall out of the habit.) Completion rate 75%.
—Watch 1 episode per week from my TV backlog. (Hey, I’m a science fiction writer. This is serious research.) Completion rate 72%.
—Read 1 Bible reading per day from my custom chronological reading plan. (It sounds like a lot, but we’re usually talking less than 20 minutes.) Yeah, this didn’t get anywhere. And I think it’s because I tried to set it as a daily goal. (More on that in a minute.)

Publishing
—Um…this didn’t work out so well. Trying to get a book published is too complicated to break down into “do this every week” bits. I’m going to try to draw up a plan of what needs to be done month-by-month to get where I want to be by the end of the year. Also got nowhere.

I’m a little behind last year, although I feel like I’ve hit my stride now. I think I would have done better if it weren’t for COVID, partly because I chose less ambitious goals. It might not seem like it, but this list required less disruption to my lifestyle than before while still challenging me. My biggest pitfall, I think, was trying to do anything daily. I added that qualifier to the “500 words per night” thing for a reason. When I try to schedule things daily, I can’t reliably do them every day. My schedule changes, and not always in ways I can predict. With publishing, I had the opposite problem: when I try to schedule things monthly, it’s too much “out of sight, out of mind.” They’re not in my consciousness enough to motivate action.

With this in mind, I’m making the following changes to my “new year’s” resolutions for the remainder of 2020:

—Write 500 words of fiction after supper on nights when I don’t have anything else going on. (Since I started my podcast, my focus on that has interrupted my fiction writing, so I need to readjust.)

—Bible reading plan: dropped. I will think more on this.

—Send one query letter per week while I have them in the queue. Short story submissions included. (This is actually more ambitious than I’ve ever tried before, but weekly works better than monthly, so I’m hopeful.)

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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