Friday, 6 January 2017

My 2017 Resolutions and Goals

A new year brings with it the possibility for a new beginning, and millions of people take with that the chance to better themselves, and decide on the things they are aiming to achieve in the next twelve months.

Now, I know I haven't done a post of this kind before (to be fair, since I started the blog in November of 2015, I would have only been able to do it once anyway), but I am all for new years resolutions. I know a lot of people hate them, because they are 90% forgotten by the time March comes (if not sooner), but even if I don't achieve them all, it is still a great, motivating way to start off the year. One of my favorite memories when it comes to this time of year was one time, years ago, when I decided to write down on a piece of paper all the things I wanted to do by the end of the year, even the ones that seemed impossible, and then hide it in a pocket of my wallet and make the pledge to not look at it again until the following New Years Eve. By that time I'd honestly forgotten some of what I had put in there, but I was surprised to see I had done them all, even the impossible ones. It was an amazing feeling and I would recommend anyone to do the same sometime, it's a lot of fun!

So this year I am doing yet another list, but, you know, here, for everyone to see. Most of these will be blogging related (hence the decision to make this post, since I'm not including making this a personal blog on the list) and relate to each other, and even the fact that I am making this post at all is already going along with one of those resolutions! Crazy, uh?

So, here are my 2017 resolutions and goals!

1. Take care of myself better

2016 was an awful year (as everyone that has managed to escape the death bonanza will testify to), but it wasn't only on a 'the world is messed up' scale. For me, it was the worst mental health year I remember having, and I went through hell for months. This is not something that I tend to talk about, and I'm not going to start now, but whenever you don't see me on social media fangirling/ranting/just generally being weird, there's a big chance I'm having a bad day. Or week. Or month.

Whenever I manage to peek out of that pit, I do consciously know that there are things I can do to improve on my general well being, but that I don't do. It's hard to convince a struggling mind to take those steps, so my most important resolution for 2017 is to take care of myself preemptively, so I don't have to get to that point. Most, if not all, of my other resolutions play a part in this, and I really want to take a shot at this. I could drone on and on on all the ways this is achievable, but the basics are simple: get enough sleep. Eat properly. Surround myself with what makes me happy. Not letting negativity drag me down. Staying away from what triggers me. Taking it one day at a time and not overloading myself with unnecessary tasks.

This will be the focus of my entire year, and everything I do or don't will be with this in mind!

2. No Reading Challenges

This will be an absolute first, but I have decided to not set any reading challenges for myself this year. Sometimes I make myself a list of the books I want to get to, or the series I want to finish, but the truth is I was never good at setting myself to read a specific TBR, even if it is one that I have a year to complete.

The most important of those goals that I am skipping this year, however, is the numerical. Any goodreads user knows that, from the first of January, you have that banner taunting you and pushing you to decide how many books you want to read over the next twelve months. I've done it since I joined the website back in 2011, and while it does provide a good incentive to read more, lately I've been finding it more anxiety inducing than anything. For example, I have some larger books that I want to read but I don't pick them up because I know it will set me back, or if I see I'm behind I'll force myself to pick small books to catch up. Sometimes you don't even notice it, but it does affect your reading habits (or forces you to read when you don't feel like it at all), and this year I am joining the surprising number of people that I have seen on social media doing this exact same thing.

I want to be free to read whatever I want, without the pressure of having to read X amount every month, and going for quality instead of quantity. I have set my reading goal to 1 (because my profile is missing the banner for the 2012 challenge and for some reason that bugs me, so I weirdly still want to have this one), and so as soon as that is done the pressure will be off!

3. Minimal book buying/requesting

Let's be honest, who has never set this goal before? It's hard, especially as a blogger, to not want to get the latest releases and be in the bandwagon with everyone else, or to want to get that book (or entire series) that everyone is raving about.

My shelf is more than half full of books I have yet to read, some of them having been there for years, and every single time I've moved houses I kept thinking 'I probably won't even like some of these, and I've been hauling them around for years'. I do some culling from time to time, giving away or selling books that I no longer have any interest in or that I know that I just will never get around to, but the ones I still have I do want to read. And I never do, because either I keep buying more books that I read first, or I request books from publishers that I am then obliged to read on a timeline for review.

The buying aspect of the equation is not so hard, as I've been pretty tame with it (comparing to past years), but the requesting/accepting is the one that I need to change. I was on cloud nine back when I started getting requests early in 2016 from authors/publishers to read their books, and I kept saying yes because I just felt so honored to even be asked, as a small blogger, and then I also started dipping my toe in requesting them. Then I would feel bad if I didn't read and review them as a thank you, so most of my reading last year was solely of books sent to me for review. Don't get me wrong, I loved a good chunk of all of those books and have built amazing relationships with publicists and publishers through that, but that pressure to read with a critical mind so I can review and the ever growing pile of books to which I had to do that eventually got to me. And the truth is, I did accept books sometimes (mostly in the beginning) just because I did not want to say no.

It was a cycle that took a while to break, but it is something I have been working on for months already, and I want to improve on in 2017. I want to leave room for those backlist titles that are weighing down my shelves, and balance that will only books that I am actually really anticipating.

4. Leaving Youtube

This technically is not a new years' resolution since I have not uploaded a video to my channel since November, but I gave myself until now to come to a firm decision about my future on booktube, and almost two months later I still stand in the same place.

I started youtube two years ago, after months and months of going back and forth and watching other people be a part of that amazing community, and I don't regret that decision. It helped a lot with my confidence, my public speaking, and I got to meet fantastic people and learn about great books. However, two years on, I don't really find myself at the place where I thought I would be with it: I still think I don't have a good presence for videos, I struggled to come up with original content, and when I did it was lost in the void. Youtube is also very time consuming, with one video taking hours upon hours to plan/film/edit/upload/promote. I just got to a point when it felt like a chore I had to do, and not something that I truly wanted/enjoyed.

The breaking point was when I was editing the last video I uploaded, and my editing software crashed towards the end. This was a normal occurrence, which still didn't convince me to periodically save my work. I'd been at it for hours, when I should have been working on an essay for university, and the auto-save file wasn't working. I'd usually start over, but this one time, I surprisingly (and very frustratingly) thought 'if I can't find this file, I'm not doing this again.' I managed to save what I had done and finish the video, but that feeling didn't go away. I had another video already filmed, but I spent weeks avoiding it, and it is still sitting on a folder, untouched.

As much as I enjoyed it while it lasted, I would rather use the time I spent on youtube on other things (especially the following resolution). I appreciate everything I got from it, and I will continue to follow everyone I've met in the community, but I just believe there are much better voices out there than my own, and so I should dedicate mine to things I am better at!

5. Blogging more

I have lost count of how many blogs I have had over the years, but the truth is I always find my way back to them. That urge was what led me to start my youtube channel, but I soon realized that the written word was definitely my preferred method.

I started this blog because I never thought that my video reviews did the books I was talking about any justice, because when I love something, I tend to ramble about it. A lot. And the wonderful thing about posts is that you can edit, edit, and keep editing. There's only so much you can do with a pre-recorded video, and so I made this little corner with the main intention of posting only my book reviews. I always wanted to do more with it, however, but the little free time I had I spent reading, doing videos, and writing reviews (and that already was stretching myself too thin), so I kept it as it was.

Now, with the free time that leaving youtube leaves me, I want to start diversifying the content I post here. I will move some of the things I did there here (like Top 5 Wednesday, discussions and writing updates), and will hopefully come up with some new ideas. I will not force myself to have a schedule or anything, but expect some new stuff coming your way soon!

6. Finish my Manuscript

Now, this is a resolution that I am very embarrassed to have here. Why, you ask? Ask me, dear reader, how many times I have done this exact resolution at the beginning of January.

*whisper* I started this novel almost ten years ago */whisper*
The plan was for me to have the first draft finished in December, and I was on track to do that (as of now it sits at 74k words), but a bad bout of poor mental health prevented me to do so. I will be getting back to it soon, though, so this year I have absolutely no excuse, and I am upping the bar. Not only am I finishing the first draft, but I am getting this sucker ready to be submitted to agents. There will be a lot of edits needed once I finish (I'm a compulsive editor and tend to just go back and fix things when I think of the mistakes, but I've just been making a list and putting it away for later and it's grown worryingly), but I am confident that I will climb over that hill, send my baby out to friends to beta-read, and start the waiting game that is querying by the time this year is over.

I did a few writing vlogs over on youtube because I want to chronicle my writing ups and downs, and I'm planning to move that over to the blog and have a monthly post keeping you up to speed on how this particular resolution is going. Hopefully with some good news starting already at the end of January!


Here it is, in (very) lengthy form, my list of resolutions for this year! I think they are all pretty manageable, with only the first and the last requiring the most effort.

What about you? Did you make any resolutions for 2017?

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