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My Resolution for 2018: Figure Out What I Want to Do

It's difficult to know what to do next when you don't know why you're doing it.

This post is adapted from and builds on my year-end summary at my own website.

When I told one of my best friends recently that I have nothing planned to do after finishing an edited book project I'm currently working on, he told me, "do what you really want to do." But he knows full well that that's my problem: I still haven't figured out what I want to do. (Pacing around my apartment isn't one of them, but here I am!) I maintain a list of things I could do—various topics I could write on, as well as book projects I've discussed with editors at different presses—but none of them excites me at the moment.

I realize I don't need to plan the entire next year and have projects nailed down, and that ideas will come to me eventually. But this is the first time in years that I don't have several projects stacked up going into the new year, and that's led me to look back on 2017 and worry that my 2018 won't be as productive. (There's also the question of why my productivity matters so much to me, but let's ignore that elephant in the room.) Instead of being pleased with what I accomplished this past year, I'm afraid that it's my last "good" year, that I'm "done." And when work is all there is... well, you can fill in the rest. (This also answers that question above.)

Also, I'm beginning to realize that it's very hard to assess your own accomplishment when you don't have goals (as I discussed in my three posts from earlier this year on defining success for yourself: here, here, and here). How can you tell if you're progressing toward a goal if you don't have one, and how do you know what to do next?

So this year, after my current work is finished, I need to spend some time figuring out what I want to do. I've been trying to do this for years, wrapping up all the tasks I'm committed to and then stepping back to reflect, but I always end up committing to more things and never getting the chance to stop and take stock. This year, it might actually happen—which is both exciting and frightening.