Calendar year 2016 draws to its conclusion in a few days. Time to consider New Year's Resolutions, an honored tradition and torment to millions. Let me assure you, it is normal to fail at resolutions.
Three New Year's Resolutions facts gleaned from: New Years Resolution Statistics at Statistic Brain.
1) Nearly half of Americans usually make resolutions.
2) Only 8% are successful in achieving their resolutions.
3) Resolutions most typically involve weight, relationships, self-improvement/education, and money.
One author warns he "can show you a holiday road to hell paved with New Year's intentions." In a U.S. World and News Report, Joseph Luciani writes:
Come the first of January, the hoards of enthusiastic resolutions-ers account for the swelling number of gym, yoga and Pilates memberships as the diet books fly off the book store shelves. By the second week of February, some 80 percent of those resolution-ers are back home with a new kind of remorse staring back at them in the mirror – the remorse of disappointment. Why is it that with such good intentions, getting fit, losing weight and improving our lives seems so elusive?
Don't despair. Both authors agree that the key to successful resolutions is changing your mind first. Mr. Luciani says, "It's not the gym, Pilates class or diet that will change you – it's your mind." An article by Ray Williams in Psychology Today discusses ways to succeed at making and keeping resolutions. He agrees with Luciani that "making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking."
Considering the abysmal failure rate for New Year Resolutions, why even bother? Here's my theory. People who make resolutions are optimists. We reach the end of the year having failed to achieve what we thought would be an effortless slam dunk. The beginning of a new year offers the opportunity to try again to improve ourselves.
Here's my fiction writing resolution secret: I track my writing time on an Excel spreadsheet by month. On each month-page, I list my goals - my new years resolutions if you will. At least once a month, I meet a goal, if not mutiple goals. I feel much more a success, and less a failure. I'm motivated to continue trying.
I've already decided on a few resolutions. Last year I aspired to write two short stories, and did accomplish my goal with two weeks to spare. I'll try that again in 2017. I resolved to write 40 hours a month. I frequently fell short of that goal, although I did hit it four months, and came close a few others. I'll set a more realistic goal of 30 hours writing time a month in 2017.
I also want to draft a new Rock Shop Mystery, a standalone mystery, and a fantasy that's been on my mind for years. Drafting three novels in one year when I have a full time day job may be a bit ridiculous. So I'll balance that with an achievable goal to read one short story a week.
My recommendation to you is to set one ridiculous goal, such as my resolution to write three novels in a year. Maybe a bucket list item. Something wildly lofty that will stretch your imagination and abilities. Do try to achieve the goal, but don't beat yourself up if you fall short. Then balance it with an acheivable goal.
I wish you a fantastic 2016 filled with adventures of the happiest kind!
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