We all know that resolutions are a bit useless–little more, in fact, than way of introducing certain failure into your near future. However, I do still like to use the turn of the year as an excuse to reflect on past failings, and as a refreshed opportunity for change.

With that in mind, I’ve set myself a few goals for the next year.

Learn more stuff

Both as a writer and the father of two primary school-age kids, I’ve noticed that my general understanding of the world is not where it could be. I don’t necessarily mean people and politics. I mean the everyday things like: how does a car engine work? What type of tree is that? What’s the capital of Mongolia?

For the most part I can survive perfectly well without knowing these things, but knowledge is what adds the colour to our world, and we’re living in an age where knowledge and understanding are fast becoming qualities that threaten certain people. I want to be in a position where I can increase understanding, even if it’s only to answer my kids when they have a “how does …?” type question, or if it’s just to add a few nuggets of trivia or substance to my next story.

I’ve started on this path by adding a bunch of knowledge-packed websites to my daily reading list. I’ll pick through the ones that work for me and report back in due course.

(Or you could always hit me up twitter if you’re *that* interested…)

Be a better friend

As it did for so many people, 2016 brought a variety of (relatively) minor struggles my way. I have no illusions that my struggles were particularly mighty compared to various other people, but I did experience some of my lowest points in the last few months (mostly due to the spectacle of ignorant, wee-brained, crot-danglers prevailing in the US and Australian elections, as well as the Brexit referendum).

Anyway, I came out of this with a realisation that however bad the rest of the world was, I still had a fine and wonderful place in it all because I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by some top people. Problem is, being a chronic introvert, I’m not great at letting people know these things–I’m not, in fact, great at doing anything that might draw attention my way. Consequently I let various opportunities to be a good friend pass my by.

Therefore, my goal for this year (and beyond) is simply to start being a better friend: to do those little, or big, things that I know make a difference because my friends have so often done them for me.

Find ways of making a positive difference

This is more of a general one, but it encompasses many things.

The world is heading to a dark and terrible place; I want to fight against that in any way I can. My kids need support and positive reinforcement; I want to be able to give them that without losing patience. I want my social media use to be more about changing minds, and supporting the good things, and less about trolling idiots (even though that is fun). I want to make sure that my job, in whatever way, is about making an improvement, however inconsequential, to someone’s life, somewhere along the line. I want the stories I write to mean something, as well as to inspire and challenge people who might read them.

It’s broad, and it’s vague, and I … don’t really have a plan for that yet, but I guess I’ll just take some small steps and work out the rest as I go 😉

(hold on, wait – don’t you have any writing goals …?)

… and in case you’re wondering if I have any writing goals, other than the one I just mentioned above … well, I guess I have two.

Firstly, I’d still like to get some of my stories published in one or other of the various genre magazines that people get excited about. Some of this is down to me writing the best stories I can, and tailoring them for the appropriate market, but it’s mostly about me submitting, submitting and submitting them until someone bites.

Secondly, although I’ve been relatively happy with my morning shift efforts over the last year, I did have a major slump over Winter. For this year I’d really like to find a way of avoiding that slump, and writing at a consistent pace over the year.

I’ll post my progress here – wish me luck!