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Year of the Metal Rabbit

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Year of the Metal Rabbit 

 

Your Year of Unlimited Success

You will not be offered a starring role in next year’s art-house award-winner, nor will your rainy weekend novel surpass the Bone People.  Your photograph will not appear in New Weekly, the Women’s Weekly or Time.

Your Year of Boundless Love

Your doorstep will not be littered with long-stemmed roses.  Dogs won’t follow you in the street.

Your Year of Supreme Wealth

Your garage will not house a Roller, a Beamer or a Jag.  No holiday home in Tuscany will materialise.  You will continue not to take up ostrich farming.

Your year of Spiritual Fulfilment

Life will not grow increasingly astral.  You will refrain from relocating to a small hut on top of a mountain.

Your Year of Invention and Discovery

You will neglect to entertain your friends with tales of combing the catacombs for relics of lost deities or your explorations of Amazonian rainforests to find the tiny liane that will cure leukaemia.  You will not build a perpetual motion machine in your garden shed.

Your Year of Looking in the Mirror

You will, however, have the endless compassion of the once teased, the eternal gratitude of every small creature you rescue from the dangers of the footpath, and a smile that reaches from here to the brilliance of hope.  Enjoy your year; you deserve it.

Where a new year starts and ends is always a little arbitrary.  I’m very happy to celebrate anyone’s idea of where that point is – be it Matariki, Chinese New Year, one’s own birthday or whenever.  And it does give a great opportunity to reflect on what’s happened over the past twelve months and think about what we want out of the next.

 

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions so much as compile a sort of “Statement of Intent” ie a (fairly short and simple) plan for the year with a set of realistic goals.  Things like “finish third draft of novel” or “spend more time playing the ukulele*”.  The key I think is to give yourself something to aim for – a challenge – without making it too unlikely (“win Booker prize” is only going lead to disappointment…)

 

Goals are, of course, reviewable over the year as circumstances change.  And I like to have longer term plans: three year or five year plans, that can be a bit more aspirational (“learn to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on ukulele” perhaps.  Or perhaps not.)

 

I love to make lists (not shopping lists, though – I don’t like to feel constrained at the supermarket, preferring the freedom of putting things that take my fancy into the basket and forgetting whatever it was I went in for in the first place).  One of the best things about a list is that sense of achievement and satisfaction you can get from crossing things off when you’ve done them.  This is where I find it helpful to break goals down into small, manageable chunks.  “Finish third draft of novel” can become “read the whole thing out loud to myself again”, “rewrite second half of chapter twelve”, “consider whether I really need character A” and so forth (“learn chords to ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’…”).

 

Friday is (generally) my writing day and usually I will make myself a list during the week so that when I get to Friday, I’m not sitting there wondering what to work on.  It will have things like “finish goldfish poem” and “find a book about amphibians” on it.  If I get to Friday and end up writing something for this blog instead, that’s fine.  My list will still be there for Saturday or can be incorporated into next Friday’s or I can abandon it altogether if I think of something better.  The point is, it’s good to have a plan.  Knowing what you want to achieve is the first step towards achieving it.

 

This is my favourite time of the year: between summer solstice (winter, if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and my birthday in mid January.  It feels like a sort of limbo time, tidying up last year’s leftovers and getting ready for the next great adventure.  It feels full of promise and opportunity.  And satisfaction that I can tick off a considerable portion of what was on last year’s list.  Hey. Ho. Let’s Go!

 

* Peter bought me a new ukulele for Christmas – my old one has been inoperable for some years now, but I’d just like to point out that I was playing it (badly) many years before it became fashionable…

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