"Do you know where your New Year Resolution is?"
That is an often asked question in the days and months that follow the new year. Statistics show that the majority of resolution-makers eventually abandon their pursuits. During the past five years, as I have studied and practiced what works and what doesn't work, I have encountered scores of passionate people who do persist day-after-day. I coined the word 'Resolutionista' for these folks and the 'resolve' they patiently display: Resolutionistas make resolutions, keep resolutions and enjoy the journey! Borrowing on my years as a working journalist, I am running an inspirational series of interviews with ordinary folks who do extraordinary things. They breathe life into their dreams, resolutions and daily goals, one small step at a time, one day at a time over the long haul. Though they may statistically be in the minority of resolution-makers (the ones who succeed), I want to highlight 'what works', and give them credit for their accomplishments!
I discovered Laurie Lico Albanese, a Montclair New Jersey writer, in my travels across the Internet in search of folks who make and keep their resolutions. Laurie, who lives 12 miles west of Manhattan, wears a variety of creative hats: journalist, author, blogger, memoirist, and writing teacher. In 2009, she made a pledge to walk for an hour every day, and to keep a Blog about it. The result is MyBigWalk. She says "it's a lot of fun." Laurie is the author of Lynelle By The Sea, which was optioned for film and translated into several languages; Blue Suburbia: Almost A Memoir was an Independent Bookseller's Best Book Of The Year selection in 2004; and The Miracles Of Prato, which she co-authored with her friend, Laura Morowitz, is coming out in paperback in January. [UPDATE: Read Laurie's 2009 Year End Essay.]
1. Kim Simpson: Do you make New Year Resolutions, or use another method of consistently achieving your dreams and fulfilling your passions, day-to-day?
Laurie Albanese: I am always working toward a clear goal - generally several at once. Right now, I am walking every day for a year (MyBigWalk), and I am polishing up a new fiction manuscript. I believe that the more clear and specific your goals, the more likely you are to work toward them and achieve them. My philosophy about life is best summarized by these words from Emerson, which I have lived by since 1983: "If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours."
2. Kim Simpson: What is your primary passion? Is it a lifelong passion, or a more recent interest? What is the focus of your current goal(s)?
Laurie Albanese: This year I made a pledge to walk for an hour every day, and to keep a Blog about it. The result is MyBigWalk - and it is a lot of fun. This week I am walking with Gretchen Rubin, creator of the Happiness Project. Above all else I am a writer. I wrote my first poem when I was seven, and never stopped putting pen to paper. To be a writer requires daily dedication and practice. I currently am revising my newest fiction manuscript, which my agent adores. My goal is to polish this book so that the voice and plot are organic and compelling, then to sell the novel to an energetic editor, see it well-published and well-reviewed, and reach a wide reading audience.
3. Kim Simpson: What key techniques, or strategies, do you attribute to your success in making your dreams, resolutions and daily goals a reality?
Laurie Albanese: Setting a specific goal, working toward it, and living each day with that goal in mind is essential to me. I read and write every day. I read like a writer. I teach writing. I try to be generous with my talents and skills. I believe in Karma.
4. Kim Simpson: What are your primary obstacles and how do you overcome them?
Laurie Albanese: The world is full of people who are trying to publish books, and the publishing industry is contracting. This is making it hard to sell books that are not pot-boilers. I stay focused on craft and the daily practice of craft, because there is only one way to live: A day at a time, creating the best day possible beginning each morning. How you live each day is how you live your whole life. I try to remember that always.
5. Kim Simpson: How do you stay motivated, enthusiastic and on track with your plans?
Laurie Albanese: I bring myself to my desk and dive right in. I don't give in to the indulgence of negativity. And if I do momentarily feel negative, I go to the desk anyway. I approach MyBigWalk the same way: Even if I don't feel like it, I do it. It is like going to work. You don't have to go to work every day with a big smile on your face, but you do have to show up and do your best work possible. I take pride in being a responsible and upbeat member of society within my family, my community, my circle of friends, the writing community, the publishing world, and with my students. Also, if I don't feel like working I always ask myself, "What would your rather be doing? Lying in bed? Skipping the day? Missing your life?!" That generally gets me going.
6. Kim Simpson: How do you keep yourself accountable?
Laurie Albanese: I measure my days in terms of hours spent writing. If I haven't been at my desk writing for three or four hours a day, I am not satisfied. My internal writer keeps me going even when my extroverted self - the person who might prefer to be out playing tennis, or shopping, or going to lunch - veers off track.
7. Kim Simpson: Do you think resolution-setters would achieve more successs if they focused on their passions - things that they enjoy - rather than a list of bad habits?
Laurie Albanese: To me, that seems self-evident. But then again, my goals and my passions are the same. I couldn't imagine making a goal that wasn't in line with my passion: such a goal would seem doomed to fail. A personal goal really needs to be about something you are devoted to, believe is possible, and centered on something you love doing.
8. Kim Simpson: Does pursuing a passion (dream/resolution) bring a sense of joy, accomplishment and reward?
Laurie Albanese: If you reach your goal, yes. If not, I think it can lead to frustration and disappointment. That is why I think it is important to have goals that you can reach incrementally: I want to be a published novelist, so I will work every day toward improving my craft. That brings me back to Emerson - ". . . advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, and you will one day reach your goal." But the goal can't be the ring you're reaching for. I think it has to become an organic part of your life. Your goals should be in line with who you are, or who you see yourself becoming.
9. Kim Simpson: What is your most significant achievement, and/or most memorable outcome of the journey so far?
Laurie Albanese: Each published work is a proud accomplishment. Writing The Miracles of Prato with my best friend, and traveling twice to Italy while we worked on it, was spectacular. I learned more about Renaissance Art than I ever thought possible, and was able to bring my husband and children to Florence for the first time. Also, it was a partnership and I adore working in a partnership.
10. Kim Simpson: Any advice for someone who is thinking about pursuing a dream?
Laurie Albanese: Work toward it each day. Remember that you chose your dream because it involves something you love doing each day. Bring yourself to dream patiently, but consistently.
Remember: I Resolve To . . . Achieve My New Year Resolutions, One Resolution, One Day At A Time For One Year. It's your choice. Do it today. Turn your resolution into reality in five simple, common sense steps: Dare To Dream, Decide, Define, Develop A Plan, and Do It Daily. Make your resolution a permanent Lifetime Resolution, something that's with you for good! Above all, Be A Resolutionista, someone who makes resolutions, keeps resolutions, and enjoys the journey! Let's Go For It!
Need More Inspiration? Wear Your Resolution By Visiting The I Resolve To . . . Shop At CafePress: I Resolve To . . . Resolutionista Gear And By Joining The Official I Resolve To . . . Group At Gather.Com. Are you ready to get moving? Complete my new I Resolve To . . . Worsheet and make the I Resolve To . . . Promise: I Resolve To . . . Worsheet & Promise. There are three weeks left between today and the New Year . . . that is plenty of time to get the fire burning and momentum churning in a forward trajectory toward 2010 dreams, resolutions and daily goals!
Kim M. Simpson - December 9, 2009
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