Well, tomorrow, like it or not, a new year is upon us. This is the day we make all those resolutions that we’ll try hard to keep for about a week before we settle back in to “comfortable.” I think part of the reason New Year’s resolutions generally fail is because we make so many and we start them all at once, and in doing so, we send our body into shock! Seriously.
I once read somewhere that the human body can focus on one change at a time well, and anything more than that disturbs something in our brain that causes us to go into “fight or flight syndrome” and makes the task impossible. Also, I’ve read in several places that it takes twenty-one days to make or break a habit. So when someone resolves to lose weight, eat more vegetables, exercise daily, stop smoking, stop drinking, go to bed earlier, cut down on television, wake up earlier, read a book every week, blog daily, eliminate their debt, volunteer each Saturday, and go to church every Sunday, and they start all of those on January first, they will likely be done by or before January seventh.
We spend at least the latter half of December mentally preparing for the huge changes we wish to implement on January first, and we get geared up to follow through with each and every one of them. Then, when we fail at sticking to our resolutions, we feel like we’ve failed our bodies, our minds, and even at life! We crash hard and may even become more engaged in the bad habits than before we resolved to give them up.
Experts recommend prioritizing your resolution list and tackling only one of those items each month. That gives you twenty-one days to make or break the new habit, then an extra week to live with the new change in place before shocking your body or brain by adding another one.
However, what I have decided this year is that I want to do something entirely different. Instead of setting myself up to fail at resolutions of how to entirely overhaul my body, my mind, my income, and my work day, I’m just going to be making small, short-term goals. For example, I want to lose five pounds before the end of January. That way, if I have a horrible day and don’t succeed at whatever diet, it won’t mean I am a failure. It’ll still give me the entire rest of the month to work a wee bit harder and meet my goal. Then on February first, I’ll set another goal for the next five pounds.
Instead of saying I want to write more in 2015, or I’ll write daily no matter what, I’m going to set a goal to write 45,000 words in January. If I meet that goal, that would roughly average half the length that my books usually are, meaning I will have completed a 90,000 word manuscript every two months. That’s less than 1,500 words a day if I write daily, which is less than one chapter. If I can write more than that, I’ll feel way ahead of the game each month. I don’t even know if it’s realistic to start working on a new first draft right away while simultaneously editing the old, or if I might prefer to edit the old works completely then start something new.
Instead of saying I want to participate in the Halloween half-marathon in October, I’m going to set my goal to participate in the Zombie Run 5K in October. That means I only have to start at zero then add a third of a mile to my distance each month until then, and that will be my monthly goal. If I add more, I’ll feel way ahead of the game, and maybe I just will get to run a half-marathon.
Other than those goals, I want to travel more and make more money. But I feel that those will happen as they’re meant to, and I’m not going to set any particular goals for them.
So all in all, I want to write a lot, run a lot, get in better shape and be healthier, and work on getting my books published. And now that I’ve shared this with you, whether you signed up for it or not, you’re all my accountability partners. Hopefully I don’t embarrass myself by making this public proclamation and not following through.
Time to talk: What are your goals or resolutions for 2015? What was the biggest or most difficult resolution you ever made and stuck with? Do you have any special plans to celebrate tonight?