The Terrifying Act of Making Resolutions

Since I was a teenager, I wanted to be the lead singer in a rock and roll band. It was something about watching Renee Zellweger rocking out on the top of Empire Records that did it for me. Everything in that moment was thrown to the wind in the name of music. The movie finished, but life goes on.

Gradually over the years that resolution got demoted. I went from being the lead singer in a touring rock band to a jazz singer in a club, to a singer in church, to sing, until gradually that teenage desire dropped off the list.

As I get older, the resolution lists have got shorter.

They’re full of achievable goals. The sort of things you put on a performance review and give them a time scale to achieve. The bookstore is full of books which help you achieve your dreams and goals and bucket lists just like this. Is it a good thing that my lists are more realistic now?

But there’s something to be said of the beautiful insanity of a ridiculous goal. Rocking out on the rooftop of a record store is still not impossible (although getting harder given the lack of record stores these days).

For the last few years, my number one resolution was to get some fiction published. One measly piece of fiction. After three years of listing it, I finally achieved it in 2015.

In reality I am terrified of putting myself out there for fear of getting shot down; something about being bullied as a child has weaned me off stepping into the spotlight. But writing fiction challenges this for me. It puts fear into my heart to stick things in the public eye for criticism, but I need to do it. It makes me better for wanting to do it.

So this January, what I want to say is crazy.

When you make a resolution this year, make it damn big.

Put that one thing down that you’ve always been scared to do, because you might fail at it. I don’t mean ‘sleep with snakes’ or ‘bungee jump’ – not a physical terror – but something that puts you out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s asking a stranger on the street to take a photo of them or finally learning to play that instrument.

My second challenge is to write your resolutions on a piece of paper instead of a to do list in your phone. Stick that list somewhere you will see it. Somewhere that will remind you to make plans that are grandiose and crazy and full of insanity because they’re exactly what you want to do.

Write that book. Make plans to travel. Tell that girl you love her.

You might not get it done this year.

But stick with it.

My goal for 2016 is simple, ambitious and crazy: write a novel by the end of the year.

I may still become a rock and roll star.

What was your new years’ resolution? Or do you resolve never to make resolutions?

Kat Clay is an award-winning photographer and writer from Melbourne, Australia. Her novella, Double Exposure, was published in 2015 by Crime Factory. Her work has been published in The Victorian Writer, Literary Traveler, TNT, Travel Weekly, Matador Network and Weird Fiction Review. She loves inspiring people to be more creative in everyday life.

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  • Great post, Kat. Most of my resolutions tend to be that sort of performance-review goal you described. Among other things, this year I’m looking to read 100 books, take at least one holiday and write something just for fun (maybe some fanfic).

    Good luck with the novel! I look forward to hearing how you go with it.

  • Kat

    Thanks so much! I think 100 books is a very admirable goal 🙂 having fun at the same time is important too. K