Resolving to be Specific

It’s that time of year again when you’re supposed to lie to yourself about how perfect you are going to be this year and then forget about it until this year is about to become last year. Then it’s By golly, this year is going to be the year for the new and improved me…

For better or worse, though, there is no real new me, just a continuing me, and as for improvement, that word quickly gets dicey. The word improvement implies a comparison of sorts; that is, it attaches itself to something specific. What is the problem with that? It’s not so much a problem as this: attached to a specific means necessarily not being attached, or not as attached to some other specific.

 A less awkward (or maybe not) way of saying it might be: an action requires specificity at the detriment of some other specificity.

For example, time spent on Xtube is time not spent on writing (or other endeavors) and time spent on writing is time not spent on Xtube (or other endeavors).

Which time usage is an improvement? It depends… but whatever the decision is, it can only manifest itself in terms of specificity. This requirement is what makes resolutions on the whole often meaningless. I know this, but still I find myself uttering inane proclamations like:

I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to read more. I’m going to do a better job at researching markets to send my stories.

Why are these inane? Because more by itself has no specificity and fails in the same way the word improvement fails.

Resolving to write a Great American novel won’t get you any closer to doing so. Resolving to write one page ever day from 7am-8am might still not get you there, but it will get you a lot closer. And that’s essentially what I do with my writing, being fairly good at only having the novel as a whole in the back of my mind, while the front of my mind works on getting a 1,000 word a day out seven days a week.

But I need to carry that level of specificity over to other tasks that I do, like reading. Too often I make grandiose goals like I’m going to read Character of Consciousness this week only to find at the end of the week that reading the specific pages somehow got sidestepped.

So my chief resolution for 2012 is to be specific in my resolving and resolving to be specific.