Monday, December 30, 2013

5 Tips for Living Up To Your New Year's Resolutions

Happy December 30th!

With 2013 almost in our dust, it's time to look at what we hope to achieve in the shiny New Year just ahead. If you're a writer, your New Year's Resolutions may be a big step toward achieving ultimate success.

In the crazy and sometimes frustrating universe of the publishing industry, we need to hack a trail through the jungle of letdowns and rejections. Setting New Year's Resolutions is one form of goal-setting for the coming year that can be an important step in your overall outlook on accomplishment, progress and self-esteem.

But how do you go about setting solid, achievable resolutions? Consider these five tips to help you craft meaningful goals. (Of course, even if you're not a writer, these tips may still work for you.)

The Golden Rule of Resolutions: Effective goal setting happens when we choose goals that we believe we can truly achieve, that we are able to keep in front of us on a daily basis, and that continously help us keep sight of the major achievements we hope to gain.  

1. Identify Your Motivators 
Begin by thinking about what excites you in reference to your goals for the coming year? What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy spending time doing? Maybe you'd like to read more books, learn a new software system, or join a new book club or writers group. What resolutions would be fun and motivating, yet at the same time help direct you toward that more exciting future you envision? How will your resolutions dovetail with your long term goals and dreams? Resolutions shouldn't be tedious chores, they should be things you enjoy doing or truly want to achieve.

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, 
we lose the excitement of possibilities. 
Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." 
--Gloria Steinem

2. Start Small and Keep Building 
To reach the finish line in a race you first have to take a lot of individual steps, each moving you closer to that ribbon at the finish line. But you don't begin as an olympic athlete, you start as a novice with the initial goal of completing your first run, one foot in front of the other. Whatever your goal, break it down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. For example, don't set a goal of "winning the Boston Marathon" without building a series of goals to get you there. Review your progress at least once a quarter, and adjust your goals if necessary. Setting your goals impossibly high will often lead to failure, disappointment, and a decreased desire to keep striving.

"It is better to take many small steps in the right direction 
than one giant leap forward only to stumble backward."
- Chinese Proverb

3. Seek Out a Support Group 
Goals are always easier to achieve when you have others cheering you on. Share your goals with your family and let them know what they can do to help support you. Ask about friends', coworkers' or peers' resolutions, and if they're similar to yours, decide what you can do to encourage each other.

"We = Power" -- Lorii Myers  

4. Embrace Defeat 
Setbacks are a certainty, but remember--That's okay! Don't allow a setback to give you an excuse for ditching your resolutions as too hard or unreachable, and don't allow them to become a reason to beat yourself up. See setbacks as learning experiences. Next time you'll be more empowered and better able to succeed.

"Many of life's failures are people who didn't realize 
how close they were to success when they gave up." 
- Thomas Edison 

5. Reward Yourself 
Even small steps are worthy of reward and just as important as the big ones! Don't think "I should have been doing this all along," and instead, praise yourself for striving toward positive change. Achieving goals should never be too easy or you haven't challenged yourself enough.

"Practice makes progress, not perfect." 
- Unanonymous

Your resolutions don't have to be life-changing to be effective, only proactive steps to move you forward on a more positive path.

Setting a goal to drink more water every day may sound trivial, but staying hydrated leads to sharper thinking, avoids fatigue, helps reduce headaches and contributes to better overall health, which may greatly increase your creative capacity. Resolving to get more sleep each night can generate the same positive effects, as can starting an exercise program. Resolutions (and goals) aren't always about achieving great things but creating the groundwork that will help get you there.


"For last year's words 
belong to last year's language 
and next year's words await another voice."
                                 - t. s. eliot

Care to share one or more of your New Years' Resolutions? Please tell us what you hope to achieve in 2014 in the comments below.

4 comments:

  1. Great tips! I love the one about starting small. Goals that are too big are overwhelming & easy to give up on.

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  2. I like that one too, Diane. I tended to make resolutions that were too difficult to achieve in past years. For 2014, I'm going to work on setting a series of smaller goals so I can move in the right direction.

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  3. I have to say I never set New Year's resolutions anymore because I never kept them. I do have a list of hopes for the next year, with the unwritten caveat that it's okay if I don't fulfill all of them. And I've even sketched out my writing goals for the first five months just to keep my writing/editing on track. Unfortunately I don't know for sure when I might get contracts or edits, or real life stuff that might mean changes. But as you suggest, I've kept them small and what I feel should be easily achievable in the time scale, or allowing for those unknowns!

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  4. I like your idea of setting New Years Hopes instead of Resolutions, Pippa. Whatever works best for us in terms of motivation and keeping focused on goals is a positive thing. You had quite a 2013 and I'm sure it's partly due to your striving toward the things you wanted to accomplish.

    Being flexible, as you mentioned, is also an important point. Resolutions don't have to be set in stone. They can be changed or extended if unforeseen situations require it. Just like our work, goals can be revised.

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