28th December 2018.
It never ceases to impress me how the movement of a single digit can create such a surge of optimism to tackle one of life’s most difficult challenges.
Before you start thinking conquering Everest, reading a news story based on fact rather than opinion, or inventing a washing machine that doesn’t finish the cycle with one odd sock left in the drum, we’re talking about change.
That’s right, change – as in doing something different, embracing something new.
Apart from a select few, most of us are rubbish at change. We prefer to stick with what we know, what’s comfortable. After all, habits and routines were created to make life easier, to deal with the mundane issues and free up time for the bigger stuff, like which main course to choose at the restaurant.
That’s right, you go for the one you had last time.
You know what you’re getting. So you had it the time before that and the time before that too. It shows you’re consistent and reliable. It makes life easier for the waiters, who can spend more time with customers who tip better.
So, why do we all get excited as New Year approaches?
We start coming up with resolutions that will involve changing habits we’ve spent years, sometimes a lifetime, perfecting and polishing. We know deep down that we don’t really want to change, but the alternative is trousers with elasticated waistbands, and that would never do, would it?
We know smoking’s bad for our health, and the health of others, but grandad smoked 60 Capstan Full Strength a day from the age of seven and lived to be 120 without taking a day off sick in his life. And science will prove smoking’s less harmful than exercise given enough time and money. Yeah, you wish!
And let’s be honest, we’d all be better people if others stopped trying to change us.
But as the excesses of Christmas settle around the waistline, hips and buttocks, we know the year’s going to change shortly. A New Year means things are going to be different. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The year’s got a different number. What else do you need – a cloud of cosmic space dust to sweep over the planet to make the changes we failed to make this year?
Experience and statistics reveal that New Year resolutions often fail and tumble within hours and days, sometimes sooner. But this rarely dents the optimism and enthusiasm for a repeat performance next year.
It’s great that people want to change their lives for the better.
Many will. The change of year is the stimulus they need to join a gym, paying for a full year up front to ensure they go every week and keep going. Without these people, the leisure industry would be much poorer.
The start of a new year also makes it easier to remember when you began the great journey of change. If you like to count off the days, weeks and months, or years if you give up smoking, then you don’t want to be looking through old calendars and diaries for the day you began.
It was May 17th, twelve years ago, when I quit smoking, in case you’re wondering. If you’re not wondering, then you’ve learned something new about me.
I started going to the gym six months before that. I paid by monthly direct debit because I didn’t know if I would like the gym or stick at it. I did and I did, but I wasn’t going to risk the money.
As a result, I’m healthier, fitter, and I eat better. I’ve lost weight, gained greater focus and determination, and would recommend putting better health at the top of your agenda.
Without good health, you can’t enjoy everything else.
If it takes a New Year resolution to stimulate you to make a change, then go for it.
Just be realistic, think it through and make some plans for how you’re going to achieve whatever goal you set. The gurus tell you to tell everyone what you’re doing as it makes it more likely that you’ll do it. Yeah, right! You can enlist the support of others to keep you going and help you through the difficult times. Like the people at work who laughed when I said I’d given up smoking? No thanks.
Well I quit smoking, and there’s no reason why you can’t achieve your goals if you want to.
So, with that past experience in mind, I settled at my desk in Crouch Corner and turned my attention to what I can do to be a better, more successful writer in 2019.
First problem – what does successful mean? How do you define success?
I discovered numerous blog posts and websites on the subject, which told me that success is whatever I want it to be. So, success is a plain chocolate Lindor (or three) at this moment.
My meanderings into marketing, social media and what my contemporaries do, didn’t help much either. I could have blown my budget on courses to teach me how to advertise on Amazon, Facebook and other media. I could also nip round to the newsagent and put a notice in the window. Remember, success is what I want it to be.
To cut a long, boring story short, I spent a lot of time and effort, creating targets, drawing up lists of tasks, priorities, how to measure my efforts, tweak the ones that failed, and so on. It was like being a manager again.
Then, while I was writing this blog post, the answer came to me.
Maybe it was cosmic space dust. Maybe it was my reflections on quitting smoking. Maybe it was my wish to condense everything into a single, snappy New Year Resolution.
Or maybe it was the realisation that I was looking at things the wrong way round – or arse about face as we used to say Up North.
My New Year Resolution became a New Year Realisation. This wasn’t about me, this was about readers.
I write my books for readers, people like you who enjoy a good murder mystery with a bit of humour. (Click here to take a look) Without you, I’d be publishing books for me, which would be a pretty pointless ego trip.
So, here’s my New Year Resolution for 2019 –
I will give my readers more.
- It means more books, more information, more updates, more insights, more chances to comment and be involved in future novels.
- It means producing more content, such as blogs, videos, newsletters, media appearances and local events to keep you informed and up to date.
- It means more book reviews, interviews and guest posts to introduce you to authors you might like to try.
All I ask in return is that you comment, ask questions and engage with me so I know whether I’m giving you more, or a migraine. Please don’t be shy.
Start by commenting below, following this blog, or signing up to my Reader Group newsletter at my website https://robertcrouch.co.uk.
Something for the weekend
Have you heard the one about the guy who set up an origami business? It folded after six months due to the amount of paperwork involved.