I make resolutions on New Year’s Eve; I make resolutions at the beginning of every month; I make resolutions that I’m definitely gonna start tomorrow morning, I promise.
My birthday just happens to be December 31st, and it’s a day I love and hate at the same time. I’m greedy and selfish, and I want that day all to myself. But with all the most important days in my life coming at the end of the year, it’s the perfect time to make a change. It’s also an easy way to put every change into one basket.
A perennial list-maker, I just can’t help myself. But I’ve learned some better resolution habits over the last 20 years:
- Find an accountability partner/group
2018 was my first XOXO Fest, and the Slack group is an online version of the festival that lasts all year long. At the end of 2018, a group of us started a #resolutions channel for monthly updates, and we’ve continued into 2020—as best we can. Knowing there are people expecting to hear from me at the end of each month is motivation to ensure I have something to report.
- Commit to the tiniest version of your resolution
In the past, I’ve hesitated to call myself “ambitious.” Like “perfectionist,” these words seemed like they were only for the very successful. However, “ambition” doesn’t always equal “results.” It’s about the size of your dreams. I spent many years with “write a novel” on my to do list. I only completed that goal when I rewrote it as “write 500 words today.” Repeat as needed until complete. 500 words, 5 minutes, 5 pushups. Repeat.
- Do one thing at a time
I refused to choose a major, even in my last year at university, and I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, General Studies. Everything is fascinating to me, and I still want to do it all. If you’ve been reading my letters since the beginning of the farmers market season, you’ve seen me struggle with focusing on baking and bread, while letting writing and zines go. Just as you will be better served with the smallest version of a bigger goal, you will fare better with fewer tasks on your list. And from different parts of life, too. Don’t commit to 250 words each on two separate writing projects; Do write 500 words and walk for 50 minutes a day.
- Revise goals when necessary
This is a trick I learned in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). When my therapy group met weekly, we would make our goals at the end of one meeting, then report back at the beginning of the next. Life is inherently unpredictable, and there’s power in revising a goal when things don’t go well instead of declaring a failure. You can quickly revise a daily goal to a “most days” goal and still report a success.
- Forgive yourself
We can all agree that 2020 is terrible, and a lot of stuff is just not gonna happen. And that’s OK. It was OK in 2019, too, if you didn’t finish what you wanted to finish. We have big dreams and giant goals, and I wish we were all where we wanted to be right now, but sometimes, it doesn’t happen. Let’s try again next year.
At the beginning of September, I made 3 resolutions: write at least 4 newsletters, make a zine to go with my homemade sea salt, and curb my mood swings by showering and dressing first thing in the morning.
This is newsletter #4! It wasn’t the one I had planned to finish out September. This month was the first time I decided to keep drafts in Substack and work on a few letters at the same time. Right now, I’ve got notes and sentences about baseball, reading, and a defense of cottagecore. But I promised I’d send 4 by the end of the month, which seemed like a great topic in and of itself.
I made the zine! You can download the PDF or buy the salt to get a print copy. When I started planning ADB in December, I thought the sea salt would be an easy sell and the sourdough starter would require more education. The exact opposite has proved true! (Thanks, pandemic 👏) But with this zine, I can get people reading and thinking about my salt and why it’s worth the price.
This third goal is where revision and forgiveness have helped most. I still don’t love showering first thing in the morning, but most days, I got dressed before I made breakfast. A lot of days, I showered before noon. I had only a handful of days when I did neither all day, and that was the most important thing I wanted to change from last month. As well, I proved my hypothesis that staying in pyjamas all day isn’t good for my mental health right now. So my revised version of this goal will continue into October.
October marks the end of the White Rock Farmers Market. My last two days will be the 4th and the 11th. 10% of my market proceeds this month will support Tiny House Warriors. Indigenous land defenders rarely succeed in bureaucratic or court battles. Those systems were designed in direct opposition to Indigenous law. In order to fight the Trans Mountain pipeline cutting through their land, the Secwepemc people have built a community of tiny houses to put their bodies in the way and stop construction. If you live on Secwepemc territory (Blue River in BC), visit the website to find out how you can help their blockade. Other settlers can send money to support the village through the upcoming winter season.
All Day Breakfast will continue, but at this time, I don’t know how or in what form. It was a wonderful, and also exhausting, experiment. I’m so grateful to my parents for all their help at the markets, to my friends for brainstorming with me and also listening to me whine, to every customer who took a chance on a brand new production baker. My sourdough starter and sea salt will remain for sale in the online shop, and perhaps a few more products in coming months, too. ADB is not quite what I want it to be yet, but I’m getting closer.
October will also be a return to zines. I’m selling at Canzine, the weekend of the 24th. And I’ll keep writing you a letter, most weeks. If I wrote 500 words, most days, until the end of the year, how many books do you think could I publish in 2021?