Defining the New Year’s Resolution:
In this context, a resolution is a firm decision to do, or to not do, something specific. It’s a goal. The timeframe spans one calendar year, in this case, 2016.
Simple. You set a goal and give yourself a year in which to accomplish the task. Then why do so many New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside, often within the first month or two?
Like any goal, you need to be able to measure a resolution. How will you know you’ve completed your goal if you can’t quantify the results?
Example – the ubiquitous resolution to lose five pounds.
Let’s say you lose two pounds in January, then gain three in February. Lose one in March. Gain two in April. Lose two in May. Gain it back in June. You have achieved your goal. You lost five pounds in 2016. In reality, you gained weight. A better resolution would be to attain a specific weight.
Example – you resolve to retire.
I worked with a gentleman who planned to retire in two years. He continued to work for another seven years, operating the entire time under the same clearly stated goal. If he had declared he was going to retire in March of 2014, he would have had a specific endpoint instead of constantly shifting it further into the future.
Quantifying your resolution does not increase the pressure to achieve your goal. It sets parameters that let you know whether you are taking the correct actions to achieve your goal.
In the weight loss example, with a specific weight goal, you know if you are approaching success, or letting it slip away. You might be motivated to go on a diet or start an exercise class. In the retirement example, you might research your anticipated benefits (pension, Social Security, 401K savings) and adjust your spending and saving to achieve a monetary goal before hitting your planned retirement date.
For writers, it is easy to quantify some goals. “Write more” means nothing. Write two pages a day, or write ten hours a week, can be measured and tracked. Complete a short story, or a novel, in 2016 is a specific goal, but setting milestone dates will improve your chances for success. Draft short story by end of March. Polish short story by end of July. Submit short story by end of September.
Keep a calendar. I think of my spreadsheet as my time sheet, just as though I am tracking job hours. That’s what works for me – tracking time. Other writers track the number of pages or words they have written per day. I can tell at a glance if I am falling short of my monthly time goal.
With each resolution, you may find you need to make other adjustments in your life. Losing five pounds might require giving up viewing a television program to make time to train for your first 5K race. Retiring by a certain date might mean you stop eating out as often, or you continue driving your late model car, as you save for retirement.
Writing goals require sacrifices, too. If you have a job and family, the challenge to put in a specific number of hours writing might mean you miss out on some leisure activities, or some sleep.
2015 presented many challenges that knocked me off my typical schedule. One was a laptop crash. Others involved family. While some issues were beyond my control, others were not. I could see myself getting off track. The timesheet does not lie.
My writing resolutions for 2016? Write 40 hours a month. Complete two short stories. Complete a novel (that is near completion). Draft a new novel. Read more outside my genre. Read or re-read more classics.
I know I am capable of achieving my goals. The trick will be staying the course through the storms of life.
Rather than making silly declarations during the New Years celebration, take the time to contemplate where you are, and where you want to be in another year. Consider the little steps that will bring you closer to your goal. Write them down. Break them down into verifiable chunks of measurable sub-goals. Revisit your 2016 New Years Resolutions once a quarter.
I wish you success as you strive to achieve your goals! And may you have a Productive New Year!
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