Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How to Keep those New Year Resolutions

It's that time of year again where people make promises to themselves which they often fail to keep. The most common resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more and to be an all round better person.

These plans are often achievable, more so when you have an actual plan of how you're going to achieve these goals but most people fail to maintain them, especially if they're just left as fantasies floating around your head.

Various studies have shown that any sort of goal, whether they're new year resolutions or not, are most often successful if they are written down. People who write down their goals have already taken that first step of commitment to ensure these goals come true. It's like they view the piece of paper as a legal binding contract. They have that piece of paper to focus on everyday if they've placed it in a room they visit on a daily basis. They pass their eyes over the written words, consciously or subconsciously, but these goals are always there to remind whoever set them they need to be achieved.

If people just leave their goals in their head they're most likely to push them to the back of their mind, left there to be forgotten.

As a writer I always find myself writing down my goals to separate them from the rest of the stuff that whirls around my mind. Rather than set them out for the whole year I often spread them out into monthly or weekly tasks that need to be completed.

Saying all this is all well and good but few goals are going to come true without a definite plan of action: how are you going to make your goals happen? It's one thing to say I want to write a whole book this year but unless I write a set amount of words everyday this is unlikely to happen. People need to set goals that they can achieve, rather than just having something specific in mind with no definite path of how to get there. And this is where some writers fail. They say they want to sell a 1000 books by the end of they year but how are they going to control that set figure? How are they going to persuade people to buy their book, and sell that amount within that time frame?

Where possible I try to stay away from these goals. I think that having any goal like that is often a bad idea because there's no control factor. What I could say is I would like to sell roughly that amount and plan my marketing strategy to include everything I could to make that happen.

This year I have one very achievable main goal. That is to finish my second book and get it ready to be published. I hope to have it out there by the end of this year but that also depends on the editor I employ and whether that will fit with their schedule.

My other goals are to become involved with various groups in Goodreads and to network more with writers of my genre.

What about you, what are your resolutions and how do you think you're going to achieve them?

4 comments:

  1. I have the same goal - to finish a project. Except I have another project right behind that one, and two more that are just begging to be written. I love to stay busy, but my time just seems to fall short of my creative dreams.

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  2. I know what you're saying! I'm already planning what will be my next project once I've finished writing this book. You think you'll be having a bit of spare time to yourself and then before you know it, you're planning more work.

    Happy new year to you!

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  3. I’ve never been a big one for new year resolutions and I’m not even too keen on setting goals. We used to have to do this at work and I would always argue that if I did my best then what I’d end up doing what all I was going to do and setting a goal wouldn’t change that; I’d either exceed my goal or fail to reach it and all that would demonstrate is that I wasn’t very good at setting realistic goals. I was being difficult but I still had a point. These days I have a terrible time getting things done on time and so I try and not tell people when something is due only that it’s coming; one has to work around one’s limitations. My long-term goal was to publish a collection of short stories in the Fall of 2012 but since my novel is easily four months late I’m thinking that I might postpone the short story collection until Spring 2013 to give me time to focus on promoting the novel. I find a lot of people’s goals are fine but they tend to focus on the end of the journey and not think too much about how they’re going to get there. The big goals in their life may very well be achievable but only after a lot of lesser goals have been achieved: few authors achieve any real degree of fame from their first novel so does that mean you don’t have to write that first novel and just skip to the one that’s going to do it for you? Sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? Your goal is a realistic one if everything goes according to plan but, as a certain Scottish poet said, “The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley.” One should always have contingency plans.

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  4. Several good points there, Jim. Thanks for commenting.

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