So the first task of the New Year was to determine the rules around these goals. There have to be rules for everything. You know when you throw a penny in a wishing fountain? I have rules for my wishes – parameters for what constitutes an acceptable wish. So clearly my New Year resolutions must have rules as well.

Do steps count as miles? Do tweets count towards my word goal? Does reading “Shimmer and Shine Make It Sparkle” for the 62nd time to my daughter count as a “book.”

No. No. And….. No.

Before breaking down the nitty gritty, here are my thoughts on these resolutions. First of all, the words and miles shouldn’t be that tough. I probably ran 1,000 miles last year. I spend the whole summer logging 30-40 mile weeks (but also most of November and December logging 5-10 mile weeks…so…maybe not). Anyways, it’s more of a resolution to keep track of miles more than any big lifestyle change. Same with the writing. I’ll get half of those words down during November’s NaNoWriMo, so it’s actually a pretty small goal. As for reading, I know I didn’t read 100 books last year, but I love reading so that one is just for fun. This way I can tell myself I’m being “productive” when I’m lounging around a novel. Genius.

So here we go with the rules:

Regarding the writing: Only new words of a novel count. Edits don’t count. Blog posts don’t count. Comments I leave on my student’s essays don’t count. I currently have the first draft of two novels 90% completed, so I figure that 100,000 words will be enough to force me to finish those and write a whole new one.

Running: I have to be on an actual run. Wearing running shoes. Daily steps do not count. On track workout days I’ll count my slow jog of a warm-up and cool down but recovery laps between sprints don’t count. Insanity workouts count: 10 mins = 1 mile.

Books: Okay, in order to get to 100 I’ve got to cut as many corners as possible here. Therefore, books I FINISH in 2018 will count. I decided this the last week of January and purposely left the last 40 pages of three separate books unread just so I could count them in 2018. It’s not cheating – it’s planning ahead.

Regarding genre, I legitimately read a lot of YA, and those books are pretty quick. I’m foreseeing a bunch of middle grade books in my future as well. As for picture books, I WILL count them as long as they are “good and useful” picture books. Good means that it’s worthy of some sort of award or placement on a reading list (preferably the National Council for Social Studies Trade Books list). Useful means that I can see a use for the book in a high school classroom. Basically, if my daughter’s don’t like it, it counts. Their taste in literature is terrible. I literally read the first chapter of a my little ponies book to them tonight. That one’s not winning any awards.

That being established, so far in 2018 I have run 19 miles, read three books (Americanah, the 4th in the Outlander series, and Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin)…and I’ve written a grand total of 450 words. Must get on that writing.

But first, off to a library.

Jenna Vandenberg

Teacher, writer, runner, mom and wife.