Stop making resolutions. They just don’t work. Most people don’t keep them anyway… there’s a reason why the gym is packed the first week in January and back to normal by March. In fact, 25% of people who set New Year’s resolutions abandon them after one week and 60% abandon them within six months. Often, the resolutions we make on January 1st aren’t specific enough and are usually made on a whim without much thought. Earlier this year, I decided to write a book… but I procrastinated for six months. I finally set a goal in June to write at least 500 words every day. Whenever I would hit 500 words, I was done for the day. I published five books by December. If you had asked me in May if I would be able to write five book by the end of the year, I would have said that it was impossible. Why? Because we tend to overestimate what we can do in the short-term and underestimate what we can do in the long-term.
An article written in the New York Times a few years ago revealed that approximately 81% of Americans felt that they had a book in them to write and share with the world. But most of those books go unwritten. People just don’t have time to write. That’s what they tell themselves, at least. They focus on the final product, the finished book, which is overwhelming… instead of focusing on a small daily goal that’s attainable.
The average book length is 64,000 words. If you wrote just over 500 words a day, you could write three full-length books every year.
That’s the length of this blog post. Can you write this much a day to write three books this year?
Better yet, can you write at least 175 words a day (the length of the first paragraph of this blog post) and write one book, the one you have in you, this year? If that’s not your goal, can you resolve to make progress each day to accomplish something amazing that you’ve always wanted to do?
The thing about goals is that they’re easy to skip but hard to catch up on. I’ll pass going for a jog today, I’ll just go tomorrow. Or, I’ll skip writing today, I’ll just double up tomorrow and write 1,000 words. The problem is that tomorrow never really comes as long as we use it as an excuse to relax today. It’s so much harder for me to write 1,000 words than it is to write 500. Again, we tend to overestimate what we can do in the short-term and underestimate what we can do in the long-term. This is why making resolutions rarely works. They’re too vague and aren’t actionable.
A goal without a due date is a dream. If you want to accomplish more in 2015, do this:
- Be specific. What do you want to accomplish (long-term) and what small steps, specifically, can you take immediately to work towards the goal?
- Write down your goals. Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University in California proved through a study that by writing down a goal, people were 42% more likely to follow through.
- Measure your progress. What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. I keep track of how many words I write each day. I know that if I follow my daily plan, I’ll write that next book.
New Year’s resolution Goal
I will lose 50 pounds this year. I will lose 1 pound a week, starting this week.
I will get in shape. I will go for a jog three days a week.
I will drink more water. I will drink an extra glass of water daily.
I will spend more time with friends. I will invite friends over today to hang out.
I will read the Bible this year. I will read 3 chapters every day, starting today.
I will write a book this year. I will write 175 words a day, starting today.
Stop making resolutions already and start setting goals.