This Is Why Your New Year's Resolution Will Fail

This Is Why Your New Year's Resolution Will Fail

Here are six reasons why we fail to accomplish our New Year's resolutions - and how you can get around them.

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So what should my resolution be if I want to, say, write a book? It apparently shouldn't be "write a book", because that's focusing too much on the long term. Write X hours a day/week? What's a reasonable value for X to both not burn out and be reasonably close to done by the end of the year?

The_Great_Galendo:
So what should my resolution be if I want to, say, write a book? It apparently shouldn't be "write a book", because that's focusing too much on the long term. Write X hours a day/week? What's a reasonable value for X to both not burn out and be reasonably close to done by the end of the year?

I'm not the expert, but completing an entire novel in a year is difficult. If I'm not mistaken, the most prolific novelists crank out one novel a year, working on it full-time. Of course, this includes drafts, revisions, etc.

I'd recommend, as a resolution, "write X words per week." Let's say the average novel is 100,000 words. If you write 2000 words per week, that's roughly 100,000 by the end of the year, meaning you'd have your first draft finished by the end of the year. 2000 words per week may be a good number for someone who is doing this on the side, as a hobby. I'd Google around to see what kind of figures other people use.

But basically... it's better to low-ball yourself in the beginning. You'll gain confidence, enthusiasm, and momentum by hitting easy-to-achieve goals, and if you find them really too easy, you can start cranking them up. Maybe you start with 500 words a week, but realize you get that done in half an hour. So for next week, you try for 1000. Etc. etc.

(Sidebar: most writers give themselves daily word quotas, not weekly, but if you have a full-time job on top of that, as well as other responsibilities, you may find it difficult to hit daily quotas. Maybe there's a day that you don't have time to write at all, but can make up for it on the weekends - thus my suggestion of weekly milestones. If you can further break your novel into chapters, perhaps you can do 1 chapter per month, etc. etc. There are many ways to break down goals into sub-goals.)

EDIT: I would avoid going with "X hours per week." The biggest issue most aspiring novelists face is writer's block. You can stare at your screen for three hours a week and jot down five words. You need to force yourself to write - write anything. Notes, ideas, timelines, character bios... just write.

Rhykker:

EDIT: I would avoid going with "X hours per week." The biggest issue most aspiring novelists face is writer's block. You can stare at your screen for three hours a week and jot down five words. You need to force yourself to write - write anything. Notes, ideas, timelines, character bios... just write.

This is something I'd recommend too. Its tough enough to get yourself to write consistently when faced with writers block. I'd add set small goals, don't give yourself deadlines but write the goals down and put them somewhere where they can be seen daily.

I have to do this for my D&D campaigns or else they never get finished. Small steps, small goals, they add up and don't overwhelm you with the daunting "finish x by y" ax hanging over the head.

Last year i had no resolution, this year i decided that i should perhaps abuse the "news year resolution" to finally get my teeth fixed. been delaying it way too long as it is (worst thing - i feel no pain, which means there is no incentive to hurry to get them fixed). Dont know if ill keep it, but i hope i do. Ive been doing "Weigh loss" slowly over the last year. the goal wasnt to "loose weigh" in as much as "start walking longer distances regullary and eay vegetables at least once a day". after a few months of that i started getting comments of people noticing i lost weight, so i guess it worked.

Now because im crazy and its still earnly in the morning so im pretending i have time im going to comment on the article way more than i should.

1. Unreasonable goals. totally agree here, our goals are often very overblown and are impossible to do. for example at one point i had a goal (now removed) to read a list of books. silly me not doing the calculations beforehand - the list was long enough that if i read a book per day (unreasonably fast, unless i just picked the shortstories off the list only) it would have taken me over 100 years to get through the list. obviuosly, this is an unreasonable goal. the goal is now removed from my goals, but there still are plenty of long goals. nothing as crazy though. One of my goals should take, rough calculation, around 1000 hours to complete. many goals are much harder to calculate time for though. but i like pre-planning everything so im getting better at it.

2. Past failures. I have noticed this somewhat, but maybe its just my obsessive nature that i tend to just think of myself as "plowing through it anyway".

3. Turning mistakes into failures. the temptation to do that is very strong indeed. however my usual strategy is, once again to use weight loss example because the article seems to take it as main goal for some reason, i currently have a set limit of "no more than 5 candies per day". If i find myself i ate more than 6 due to some extraordinary situation (for example being offered in a meeting where saying no would insult a client or something) my strategy is "yeah, im cutting it off this day, only going to eat any tomorrow once the counter resets". Though i do have the "exception days" where i eat more bad food than normally. Actually, dietologists suggest that its a good idea to have a "anything goes" days once a month or so because then the body thinks there is going to be surplus and is less likely to try to save any fat you have just in case of true starvation. it sort of shocks the body of the hoarding mode that regular weigh loss often induces. i dont go overboard with it though.

4. Absolutes. We really should get rid of that "only sith deal with absolutes" thing. the saying itself is an absolute implying that someone that says it is a sith himself. That being said, yeah, there does seem to be tendency to do that. i have to conciuosly avoid those when setting goals. though sometimes i like to do a "ill do this no matter what" and just challenging myself to push it. never in things that are of massive consequence though.

5. Negative framing. Well, most of my goals would fit the positive framing they suggest, though i never paid attention to this stuff. perhaps it just naturally evolved as a better tactic of acomplishing since i had years of time to weed out the bad techniques?

6. Distant goals. Yep, with you there. I have massive goals, but all those goals are divided into a bunch of smaller goals that can be accomplished relatively quickly. turns a boring grind into effective checkpoint system. Its also worth setting up some reward system. like if your goal is to do 1000 of X and the small goal is to do 30 of X that belongs to group Y by the end of this week, if you finnish earlier reward yourself with not starting next group till next week, have soem time off of your goals. it helps keep sanity.

P.S. If Rhykker is reading comments still, im catching up on science podcast and once im in reasonable age (as in not in october podcasts) i may start writting massive coments again. Beware :D

The_Great_Galendo:
So what should my resolution be if I want to, say, write a book? It apparently shouldn't be "write a book", because that's focusing too much on the long term. Write X hours a day/week? What's a reasonable value for X to both not burn out and be reasonably close to done by the end of the year?

Im not expert in book writting (wrote 2.5 books and gave up on being a novelist, none published) but ive been dealing with planning things for years in advance for, well, years. one thing i learned is to never overestimate yourself.

Think how much you can wrote per week. thein cut that amount in half and work with that. the cut amount will be much more realistic due to people overestimating themselves all the time, and you will feel awesome when you beat your goal too boot (regardless that it was cut to begin with). these little "oh i just finished 1 day earlier than planned" really gives a morale boost when your master plans are 5+ years long.

I'm going to say this article is wrong. I met my goal last year and I'm pretty sure I'll meet my goal this year. The thing is about keeping up with the goal each day, tracking it, and setting out specific expectation notes as reminders (sticky note on desk, sticky note app on phone/tablet, sticky note app on desktop PC, note on fridge, ect.). The constant reminder of what you're trying to aspire towards as well as setting aside a specific time frame to meet it is what help to achieve.

I haven't failed a News Year's resolution in 13 years!

...
Mine's always make it to next year's New Year's resolution.

Strazdas:
[snip]

Yep! Still reading :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

Every time I hear New years resolutions, I picture this:

image

My resolution is not to take resolutions. If I want to do something I go do it; I don't bother to wait until the start of the next year to go do it.

DRTJR:
I haven't failed a News Year's resolution in 13 years!
...
Mine's always make it to next year's New Year's resolution.

Nice.

Similarly, the first New Year's Resolution I ever made was "Never again make a New Year's Resolution." I've never broken it.

If you want to change something in your life, just change it. The number on the calendar doesn't mean anything.

Thanks to all for the responses. The X words per week is probably better than X hours per week, though I worry a bit that the quality might suffer. For a first draft, though, it's probably a good idea. Granted, 2000 words a week still sounds like an awful lot, but I guess we'll see. I'll downgrade it to 1000 a week if it's too much. Thanks again to everyone for their suggestions.

 

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