Every New Year, we make resolutions. If not formal resolutions, we have expectations or secret hopes that things will happen. This year will be different, better somehow - more good less discomfort, we’ll eat healthier, exercise more, make more money, get a better job or fall in love.
Often I hear people say, “This is the year, I finish my screenplay!” or “This is the year I finally write my book!”
Hoping for this year to be different is like waiting for the bus to Cleveland while sitting on the sofa in your house wearing jammies and eating donuts never having even purchased a ticket.
You don’t accomplish goals because of a calendar change. You accomplish your resolutions through a healthy work ethic. You will finish your screenplay when you become a person who finishes things. When you change your writing habits, you will write your book.
A Success Story
My dad was born the third child in a very poor family. They lived in a sod house. (That’s concrete, underground.) Their car was a Model T elevated on bricks. His mother worked several jobs, managed the small farm and raised the children. My grandfather was a baker. Prone to melancholy, he often disappeared into a cabin in the woods. My father had difficulty reading. He heard words differently. He did not attend a four year university. He holds no formal degree. And yet, he rose out of poverty, created a successful career and marriage, built beautiful homes and travelled the world. He encouraged his children to follow their artistic dreams.
How did he do it?
A Vision or Desire
Dad was born with drive. As a go-getter, he wanted more. He had charm, a big warm personality. After high school graduation, he entered business school, but his undiagnosed dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder, made academic learning very difficult. Around this time, he found a job working for a man named Mr. Frankel. Mr. Frankel owned a business that sold carbon copy paper. He was the first Jewish person, and professional businessman, my farmer boy father had ever met. Mr. Frankel was from a foreign land. He wore suits. It made my father pay attention.
Learn From a Mentor
Mr. Frankel offered to teach my dad everything he knew about selling carbon copy paper. Dad took on the challenge. Sales was about people; being reliable and trustworthy established good relationships. Good relationships established a solid business. Working harder than those around you is what made you a successful businessman. Dad soaked up these lessons. He was a good student. Mr. Frankel introduced my father to one of the first self-help books, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. From this, dad discovered a positive life philosophy.
Mr. Frankel believed in my father. He was strict, but patient. In dad, he saw the seed of a mighty oak. Dad’s roots of self-confidence deepened and his expertise in sales grew. He got married. He bought a new car and purchased their first home. I was born. A few years later, mom and dad bought their second home and my sister was born.
A Daily Practice
In this way, day by day, under the tutelage of his mentor, my father established a solid work ethic - a daily rhythm for personal success.
And when a budding new office supply and furniture company offered dad a bigger sales position with more money, he went to his mentor for advice. Mr. Frankel gave his blessing.
My father went on to become the number one salesman for that new company, helping it through several bankruptcies and buyouts, and training many sales people until he retired early at the age of 60.
Get On the Bus
A resolution won’t make this year any different than the last. We must learn to be honest with ourselves. We must see how we often work against our resolutions. We must create a healthy work ethic. Writers need to be accountable because it’s so easy not to write. It’s easier to sit on the sofa wearing jammy pants and eat donuts.
If you want to get to Cleveland, you have to go to the station and buy a ticket. But you also must get on the bus.
And don’t forget to put on your pants.