Every year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions on January first. And by January thirty-first have completely forgotten what those resolutions were.
I’ve been guilty of this. As the new year rings in, I create this “wish list” of things I want, only to shamefully admit failure within a few weeks.
If I even remember what those resolutions were a few weeks later.
But why do we do this? It’s estimated that somewhere between 80 and 90% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within a couple of months at the most. I mean, if we want something badly enough to put it on a list of things we want (Lose weight! Get more exercise! Write a book!), why is it so hard to stick with it?
Here’s what I think: when we come up with these resolutions, we don’t often give thought to whether we are willing to do what is necessary to accomplish them.
For example, I can say I want to lose 25 pounds and it sounds great! Until I realize what I will have to do to lose those 25 pounds. Dessert every night? Nope. Dinners out every Saturday at my favorite Mexican restaurant? Nope. The ability to binge eat through a Netflix marathon every weekend? Nope.
Suddenly, I’m not nearly as motivated to lose weight as I was when I so naively added it to my list of resolutions. Simply because I’m not willing to do what’s necessary to accomplish that 25 pounds of weight loss.
Is one of your resolutions to write a book this year? To be successful, you need to decide if you’re willing to do what’s needed to get that book written.
It might mean turning down social engagements on weekends, so that you can write, because you have a full-time job, a family with lots of activities, and don’t have time to write during the week.
It might mean that writing a chapter each week becomes more important than vegging in front of the TV every night.
It might mean choosing to write in your car during your lunch hour rather than going out with your coworkers every day (which might actually also help that 25-pound weight loss goal, coincidentally!).
What if your resolution is even loftier than one book? What if you resolution is that you’re going to quit your day job and become a full-time writer by the end of this year?
Goals like this one, which are huge and life-changing, require even more thought and planning to ensure that you have even the slightest shot at success. You’re going to have to know where your income will come from (the writing or somewhere else?), how much time you’ll devote to writing, whether you’ll solely write fiction, or will you write nonfiction or do some other kind of work to supplement your income? But the #1 question is: Am I willing to do what is necessary to fulfill this resolution?
Ask Yourself These Questions
So how can you tell if you are committed to doing what is necessary to accomplish the resolutions you make? Ask yourself the following questions…and be honest. If you try to play Mr. or Ms. Committed when you really aren’t, the only person you’re hurting is yourself.
- Is this resolution something I really want, or something I feel is expected of me? While your best writing friend may write full time, if you’re honest with yourself, you might find that you don’t really want to write full time. Perhaps you love your day job or enjoy the social aspects of working outside the home. Don’t make resolutions based on what others tell you you should want or what you think is expected of you.
- Am I really willing to do what is required to accomplish this resolution? Starting a Twitter account and Facebook author page might be a great resolution if you’re working to build your tribe. But if you don’t know a tweet from a hole in the ground and hate Facebook and aren’t willing to put in the time to maintain it and interact with others, they will just grow stagnant when you get tired of them.
- What’s my motivation regarding this resolution? If you’re not “all-in” in terms of being driven to follow through with your writing resolution, you’re going to end up forgetting all about it within a month or so. If your resolution is to write an erotic novel this year and your motivation is purely the idea that erotica sells, but you can’t stand the genre, you can almost guarantee your failure to keep this resolution.
- Is the timing right for this resolution? If you’re a tax accountant, setting a resolution on January 1 to complete a 100,000-word draft of your novel during the first quarter of the year might be really bad timing. Think about your other commitments before rattling off resolutions that are destined to fail because you simply don’t have enough time in a day.
- What am I willing to give up and not give up in order to accomplish this goal/resolution? This one is pretty self explanatory. Really consider what you might have to give up to be successful. You may run into something you’re not willing to give up that will make your particular resolution impossible. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
By asking yourself these questions and really being honest about the answers, you can vet those resolutions up front and have better chance of success by picking resolutions you are truly committed to.
What if You Already Made Resolutions This Year?
I get that it’s nearly mid-January already, and you could very well have named your obligatory resolutions a few weeks ago. Are you still going strong? Maybe these are the right resolutions for you. Have they already started petering out like a forgotten gym membership? Go through the above questions and see which resolutions might fit and be worth salvaging (or revamping) and which you just aren’t willing to do the work on.
Don’t worry if you discover that you’ve made a mistake with a few of your resolutions (or all of them!). You’re armed now with more knowledge about what makes resolutions worthy of your time and efforts! As far as I’m concerned, resolutions aren’t just for January 1. A good resolution works any time of year.
So, readers, are your resolutions rockin’? Or do they need some revisions? Let us know in your comments!
Rock Your Writing!