2016 New Year Resolutions

January 9, 2016

New Year’s Resolutions. A very hot topic on social media this past week. As a serial list maker, I honestly don’t think they’re so bad. It’s both exciting and calming for me to take the time to sit and think about what I want to achieve in the next year. But it can get scary. So to keep the resolution process from becoming daunting or overwhelming, I break it into two parts – a theme for the year and some specific goals. The theme sets the guiding principle for the year. I frame the goals more as aspirations. By doing so, my ability to accomplish them or fail at them are not an indication of my self-worth, they just mean I was more or less busy, more or less focused, or prioritized some things over others. It also allows me the leeway to come home and lay like broccoli on the couch sometimes and not feel guilty.

So let’s start with the theme. The theme is really just one word that helps me to focus, set goals, keeps me grounded and helps me to tackle the most important challenges in my life at the moment. For 2015, it was gratitude. This was mostly because 2013 and half of 2014 was such a shit show. So it felt right to spend last year focused on having gratitude for everything in my life from the big stuff – friends and family, a roof over my head, a challenging career, and good health to the little things – the sigh of a contented pup getting belly rubs, Monarch butterflies that cocooned and hatched out on our front porch, or the smell of sage in the canyon where we walked the dogs.

Gratitude is still a focus. It always will be. But for 2016, I needed a new word. Something relevant to life’s most recent surprises. And I landed on the word surrender. And lest you think that surrender = giving up (which is most certainly the hell does not), let me provide more context.

I had my entire life fairly well planned out by the time I was 24. Ten years later, standing by the virtual smoking wreckage of that vision, it forced me to rethink who I wanted to be. It was a lesson that while I certainly had choices to make (like being happy – happiness is a choice), life also does whatever the hell it wants to do. And your job is to react. The tighter you hold on, the bumpier the ride, but if you can loosen your grip a bit and just allow it all to flow a bit, you’re be far less battered and bruised in general. Sometimes your best choice is just to throw your hands up in the air and say, “Fuck it!”

I was reminded of this again this past year. While 2015 started with a lot of promise and momentum, it ended with me carrying a lot of fear in my body. Fear I won’t ever accomplish some life goals – like finish this book. Or writing “enough.” Fear at work that despite my best efforts, I was failing. Fear that with my work/life imbalance, I was letting people down that I care about. Fear that things wouldn’t change. Fear that they would. So you can see – lots of fear. And it would pool in my belly, and sometimes it would reach into my chest, or up into my brain. I’ve found that surrendering is the best strategy to transform fear – to leach out the venom. Fear can’t hold paralyze you if you don’t give it the power to do so. And when I don’t hold on so tightly to things being a certain, very specific way, it allows for things in my life to unfold more naturally and without fear.

So with that said, let me outline the specifics of what I’d like to unfold in 2016 (my SMART goals in aspirational clothing):

  • Exercise regularly. Doing something I like that won’t kill me or put me in the hospital for four days. I am honestly a different person when I exercise. It also gives me some more of that illusive life balance thing. And to be clear, I’m not aiming for Rock-like quads. So let’s aim for a minimum of three times a week and see where we go.
  • You want to know something that really gives you perspective? Meditation. And as much as I know that, and I can tell you how different I feel when I do it regularly (see above for exercise) I come up with all kinds of crazy shit not to do it. For Christ’s sake it just involves sitting quietly for 20 minutes every day – how hard is that? But just as I sit down I think it may be a good time to unload the dishwasher. Or send an email. Or read this book here on the table in front of me. Or I’ll find I suddenly have a very cute dog beak in my lap. So I need to stop with the distractions and stay steady with my zen ninja shit. Same frequency – minimum of three to four times per week.
  • Finish this fucking book. Whoeee this is a big one. All kinds of crazy fears here. Fear that I’ll never finish it. Fear that I will. Fear that people will hate it. Fear that people will love it. Fear that no one ever reads it. It’s no wonder I can’t finish this shit. This is where the surrender part comes in. And if I can just give myself some space to write it, where I don’t feel like I’m disappointing anyone, I’m going to get it done. 2016.
  • Be present. I live far more in my brain than I do in my body. My noggin has a tendency to whirl along at warp speed. When I get really overwhelmed, it’s like a game of Frogger up in there. All these thoughts whiz past and it’s all I can do to get keep my focus without being run over. When I’m present, all of that street noise disappears. I can hear, listen and enjoy whatever I’m doing NOW. And that’s nice. And refreshing. And allows me to spend amazing time with amazing people. And to quote Mr. Miyagi, I don’t end up “Stuck in middle. Squish – just like grape.”
  • Swear less. Ha ha. Fuck that. Who am I kidding? It’s both sad and amusing to me that most people give me gifts or make jokes on FB about my apparent Tourette’s like inability to keep my language clean. I’m OK with it. Though it would be helpful for me to remember to shut my pie hole around small children. I’ll add that one to the resolution list.

So there you have it folks – my plan for 2016 in a nutshell. I’m hoping that my dedication will be enough, but I also welcome some kind words or a sharp elbow if I need it to support me and hold me accountable. At the very least, through this blog, I hope to amuse and engage you through some fun writing as I update you on my progress and other wild adventures. Cheers!





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  • Reply Chuckhelsel January 11, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Danielle Baldwin, you rock

    So well presented.

    I’m just going to swipe these and take 2016 to a new level.


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  • Reply Julie January 11, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Finish the book. I’ll read it. Bam…one fear gone. And for what it’s worth, I’ll be reading it not because I want to be “nice” but because you are one h*ll of a writer and those are the kinds I like.

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