Seriously, don’t make a New Years’ Resolution.
Studies report that 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail, leaving 8% of people that actually complete what they set out to accomplish. There’s a lot of research behind why that is, but I think it comes to a small difference: definitions. When people set New Year’s resolutions, what they really are shooting for is to make change. But look at these definitions:
Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something
Change: To make or become different.
See the difference there? While resolutions are “firm”, at their core they are just strong thoughts or statements. The definition doesn’t require action; simply thinking hard about your resolution is enough. By contrast, change is an active process. If you want to change, you’re going to have to get up and do it. That’s why you’ve got to stop resolving to do things differently this year and just…change. How? I have just the acronym: the N.E.W U. program. Follow these simple steps and I guarantee you’ll make some change in 2015. Or at least have a reason to leave me nasty comments at the end of next year.
N.-What needs to happen?
This first step is the most important. If you’re going to accomplish any goal or start a new change in your life, you need to figure out what you have to do to get there. This works for everything from weight loss to writing the next Hunger Games/Tale of Two Cities. For weight loss, you have to sit down and figure out what needs to happen. How many hours do you need to work out? What do you need to work out? What needs to happen with your diet?
If you’re working on the Hunger Games, how many hours a week are you going to spend writing? Who do you need to contact to get that sweet publishing deal? Who do you need to work with to make sure Jennifer Lawrence and Stanley Tucci are in the movie release? Break down every single step.
This may seem tedious, but it’s gonna help so much. How many times have you heard someone make a general resolution but have no idea how to accomplish it? It’s like going to the store and wanting to make a new dish, but not researching the ingredients or the steps needed to make it before I get to Walmart. I mean…before you go to Walmart. In any case, when you are figuring out what needs to happen, it’s important that you do not set a deadline. That comes later.
E.-Encourage yourself constantly.
Have you read the insanely popular self-help book, The Secret? If you haven’t, here’s a spoiler:
The Secret to a better life is positive thinking.
Yep, that’s it. (Saved you a few bucks in having to buy it, you’re welcome. 😉 ) This is critical for what you want to accomplish as well. Why? Because working towards your goals is probably going to suck at first. If you haven’t done pushups since it was mandatory in high school, you’ll probably find pull-ups difficult at first. While you’re writing Hunger of Two Cities, you’ll find that some of your writing is clunky or just plain bad. And sometimes, it may seem like it’s not worth the effort.
And this is where that encouragement will come in! Tell yourself that the one pull-up I…you were able to manage is one more pull up than you did yesterday. That clunky chapter you wrote? More writing that you did last year! It may seem cheap to keep rewarding yourself for little milestones, but here’s the thing: those little milestones will add up. How many times have you seen people give up on a resolution because they aren’t seeing progress? Encouragement takes the focus off what is not happening and puts it on what you are actually doing. It may not be ideal in the moment, but when you look back, you might be surprised to see a wall of accomplishment built out of hundreds of milestones.*
*Wouldn’t this make an awesome fortune cookie?
W.- When do you want to be finished?
Okay, you’ve figured out what you need to do and are staying motivated. Now you just have to figure out when you want to complete your project/achieve your goal. If you’ve done the first step properly, you already know how long it will realistically take. With weight loss, you’ve probably gotten ideas for averages based on your height or body type. You already know the steps to publishing and how long it will take to hear back from companies. The most critical thing to remember:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE FINISHED BY 2016.
Remember, this whole process is about change. This isn’t about cramming a goal into the new year, it’s about taking actions that will lead to positive shifts for the rest of your life. If your plan takes you into the next year, that doesn’t mean you’re failing. Remember, 92% of people who make those resolution things have already given up. Meanwhile, you’re still chugging along, like an awesome flying steam powered train.*
*(I watched Back to the Future 3 recently.
U.-Unite with friends to make your change/goal more than just yours.
This is a going to be a difficult step for a lot of people. Even…no, especially me. After you’ve gone through the first three steps, you have to let someone else know your entire plan. Why? This goes back to the encouragement step. At some point, you may hit a wall. Maybe those last few pounds are being stubborn, or you’re getting writer’s block on that last chapter. Having a second person to remind you of your goals can be a major boost that will get you to the finish line.
You have to determine how often they talk to you about the goal. Do you want a weekly check-in? Maybe you’d like a quick chat every couple of months. I personally like the idea of a bi-weekly message/email/text. The exchange can be as simple as:
Friend: How’s it going with Hunger of Two Cities: The Revenge of the Gatsby?
You: It’s okay. I just can’t figure out how to work Gladys into this last chapter.
Friend: Well, you still have a month left before you wanted to submit it to Harper Collins. If you’ve written most of a book by now, you’ll definitely figure it out.
You: Right. Thanks, broseph!
Friend: No problem, bronut!***
***Feel free to use this in casual conversation.
That one person at your side is going to be the game-changer. Now you’re making your change not only for your sake, but along with a supporter. If you don’t think you have a friend in your life that can fit this role, use me. I’m 100 percent serious. Shoot me an email at: AndrewArete116@gmail.com after you’ve worked through the first few steps and let me know how often you want me reach out. If I fail to live up to this obligation, I invite you to leave angry comments all over my blog.
So there you have it. Throw out those New Years’ Resolutions and start working a brand spankin’ NEW U. Figure out what you want to get done. Motivate yourself to keep working on it, even if it gets hard. Determine when you’re going to get it done. Ask for a little support along the way. If you’re active, I guarantee you’re going to have a more successful 2015.
Or at least a reason to shout at me over the internet. :p.