Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Resolving the New Year

Merry After Christmas and a Happy Almost New Year! 

The days between Christmas and New Years are always a little odd for me.  The insanity leading up to Christmas is over, and the short burst of New Year’s cheer hasn’t yet arrived. Since I’m fortunate enough to stay home with the kids, the intervening days between the two holidays seem to sprawl into one another like a giant, comfortable yawn. There may be a little sale shopping, but it’s not really mandatory. The decorations don’t need to come down yet. I can spend quality time with the fam, or alternately ignore them and spend some quality time with a book or two. Not so much worry, not so much stress. I like these cocooning days and guard them jealously.

However, I know that there are people with far more gumption than I. And for them, these are the days they make their New Year’s Resolutions and check them twice, polish and plot and post their goals on their shiny new 2012 calendars.

And what are the most common New Year’s Resolutions?
In no particular order, the top ten are:

Eat healthier
Exercise more
Get Organized
Spend Less, Save More & Get Out of Debt
Learn Something New
Spend More Time with Family & Friends
Help Others
Manage Stress Better
Quit Smoking and/or Drinking
Fall in Love

Don’t those sound wonderful? A brand new you in twelve short months. As writers, of course, we’d add a slew of authorly goals in there, too.

Sadly, the empirical data is also in - by the end of January – yes, before Groundhog's Day - only a third of the people who made resolutions will still be sticking to them.  And unlike Phil Connors, with an eternity of do-overs, when next year rolls around, 80% of people will have fallen off the self-improvement wagon.

Most years I would be reclining in my easy chair shaking my head at all those poor folk trying to better themselves. Except that this year, I really want to be one of them. Several very personal things have brought forcefully to my attention that this is the only time we’ve been given. How will we use it?

So, in honor of me making a resolution to become a resolution junky, here are five things* that can greatly increase your chances of reaching your goals (and since this is the Prosers, let’s think of it in writerly terms):

  • Plan a series of specific smaller goals– this alone will raise your chances of success to 35%. How do you envision this working into writing goals? Daily word counts? Chapters or short stories finished per week? Submissions?
  • Reward Completion – take time to celebrate small and large milestones toward larger goals. What do you do when you have plotted that story, reached the inciting incident, or slogged through that rough patch of editing?
  • Visualize success – looking at the benefits of reaching a goal is more motivating than focusing on the consequences of failure. What will it feel like when you type ‘The End’? Or receive that acceptance letter? Or have millions of squeeing fans?
  • Keep a Journal – hmm. Do any of you do this? Do you write about how you feel about writing, or do you just write?
  • Tell Someone Close to You – having a support system is pretty integral for writers. I love having a group who understands this bizarre compulsion to create with words (thanks Prosers!). Do you think there’s a difference between online support and face to face support you’d get from family and friends?

Well, there you have it. Measurably bump up your success by using some pretty simple, positive techniques.
Let's check back February 2nd, shall we, and see how we're doing?

*Source:  this very inspiringly titled piece from the Guardian: New Year’s Resolutions Doomed to Failure, Say Psychologists

~ Susan


  1. Great advice. I certainly want to make some New Year resolutions, writing and other wise.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I definitely don't do New Year's Resolutions anymore, having seen that I never make it past the second week of January. These days, I *try* to remind myself of all the cycles of ups and downs, and take advantage and be more productive when I'm feeling energetic and be more forgiving when I'm not.

    Good luck to everyone on whatever your goals are. I do love fresh beginnings :)

    Thanks, Susan!

  3. I used this blog post with the girls at church today, and it inspired all of us to make more short term goals this year. It was lots of fun!


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