Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions?

by Jami Gold on January 1, 2013

in Over-Achieving Perfectionist

Drawing of confetti with text: Toss Those New Year's Resolutions For Something Better

New Year’s Day. The time of year when society tells us to make New Year’s Resolutions.

We vow to eat better and exercise more. We promise ourselves we’ll carve out more “me-time” for reading or other enjoyable activities. We hope to become better organized or more charitable.

Most of those resolutions don’t survive the month of January. That means a lot of people probably feel like failures as the year wears on.

For this reason, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. As a perfectionist, I already have plenty of things to beat myself up about, and I don’t need to add to the list, thank you very much.

Instead, if I come up with anything resolution-ish, I usually vow to concentrate on something good or positive. For example, rather than a resolution that has a “success” or “failure” aspect, I’ll resolve to live my life normally, but celebrate the successes that naturally come my way.Β With a resolution like that, we can’t fail and we don’t have to beat ourselves up.

(Yes, I am a Pollyanna. While I’m a pragmatic realist who sees the good and bad in life equally, I’ve learned I’m a happier person when I choose to focus on the good aspects. Your mileage may vary. *smile*)

As writers, we already have too many opportunities to doubt ourselves. Rejections. Bad reviews. Low sales. We don’t need to create more opportunities for failure and self-doubt.

Rather, it’s healthier if we focus on the times when we feel like a success. At some point this past year, we probably all had at least one momentary flash of “I can do this.”

Maybe that spark of confidence came when the words flowed beautifully from our fingers. Maybe it came when positive feedback made us fall in love with our characters all over again. Maybe it was a request, a contest win, or a sale.

The point is that feeling of confidence can be caused by something external or internal, important or trivial, and can lead to bigger and better things or be a standalone response. Whatever the circumstances, we should make a notch in our mental “writing successes” ledger, so we have a balance to carry us through the bad days.

When we sense that flash of “I can do this,” we shouldn’t just gloss over it and move on. We should take the time to add that mental tally mark.

Sometimes those marks will come from external successes we receive from others (like a full request or a sale), and sometimes those marks will come from our internal perceptions just because we’re paying closer attention to our inner fist pumps. Either way, those flashes of confidence are realΒ and we should make note of them. Almost every writer could useΒ more confidence. *smile*

My 2013 New Year’s Resolution? Make more “I can do this” tally marks in my mental ledger.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Why or why not? Are you successful with them? Do you try to pay attention to your flashes of confidence? Do you have suggestions for other positive-focused resolutions we could make?

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25 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Edith January 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Normally I don’t do New Year resolutions but this year I decided to write down a few writing related goals.

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Jami Gold January 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Hi Edith,

Yes, I do “goals”–especially writing ones–all the time. But when I make a goal, I also plan out how I’m going to reach that goal. That helps avoid many failures. I think part of the problem with many resolutions is that we just state a wish without planning how we’re going to make it happen. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

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Amanda January 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I feel like once you slap that label on them, you’re doomed to fail. A blogger I used to follow came up with the idea of making “birthday goals”: she’d set out a couple of things she wanted to accomplish by her next birthday. And strangely, I’ve found that works better. This past year I didn’t do as well as the year before, but I still managed to hit a few of them. Maybe it’s the calling them “goals” instead of “resolutions” that makes it easier to stick with them.

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Jami Gold January 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Hi Amanda,

Exactly! As I mentioned to Edith, I’ll do goals but not resolutions. I think for me, it’s a mental difference in whether I make a plan for how to achieve them. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

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Zack Kullis January 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi Jami,

I’m kind of like you. I do use goals and have resolutions, but they aren’t tied to the New Year.

It’s kind of silly to reserve one time of the year to make goals and shoot for something better.

You mentioned the resolution so many people have for losing weight. Perhaps if people maintained a constant goal of keeping in shape rather than starting a new year and deciding to lose 30 pounds by summer. It just doesn’t work.

I constantly try to stay in shape, maintain an optimal weight, and my goals are constantly changing and evolving throughout the year. Right now I’m waiting for my manuscript to come back from the editor, and will then set up a number of goals for getting the book published.

Thanks for the good post!

Zack…

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Jami Gold January 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Hi Zack,

LOL! Yes, are we supposed to drift through life the rest of the year, not making plans on how to better ourselves? πŸ™‚ Like you said, I’d much rather keep the effort constant. Thanks for the comment!

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Julie Glover January 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Yes, I make resolutions–but usually just one or two. I have kept several, so it’s a good thing for me.

My coolest resolution so far? Probably a few years ago when I resolved to bike around my entire town. I started with short one-mile rides, and eventually got up to 12-mile rides. I got to see neighborhoods and streets I didn’t know existed and felt more connected to my town when finished…as well as far more in shape than I had been.

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Jami Gold January 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Hi Julie,

Good for you! I don’t think resolutions are evil things by any means. πŸ™‚ The point is you had a strategy for your resolution–working up to longer and longer bike rides. That’s the real secret to success. Thanks for the comment!

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Chris Edgar January 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I write music rather than novels but I think the idea is the same — what you call the feeling that “I can do it,” which for me manifests as the sense during the writing process that “this song rocks,” is really the reason I do this, regardless of whether anyone happens to hear a song I write.

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Jami Gold January 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Hi Chris,

Excellent example! Yes, it’s that feeling of the words, the characters, or the story coming together that keeps me writing. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

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Tamara LeBlanc January 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Happy new year, jami!!
I love your outlook. Very optimistic and very mentally healthy.
I normally make small resolutions every new year, but you’re right, most of the time by the end of January they’ve been forgotten.
This year I vowed to finish three novels, eat better and excercise more. I’m hoping I have the stones to achieve all three, but I feel it’s necessary not to beat myself up about it if I happen to fail. This post helped me realize that, so thank you πŸ™‚
I loved the movie Polyanna, by the way. Hailey Mills and a turn of the century backdrop…it can’t get any better than that. Good for you for following her mantra.
Happy first!!!
May your wishes come true,
Tamara

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Jami Gold January 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Hi Tamara,

Good for you about deciding not to beat yourself up. That’s certainly a resolution I can get behind! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

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Jami's Tech Guy January 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Happy New Year Jami!

I always make the same resolution, to not make any resolutions. I’m not sure if I succeed at it or not. πŸ™‚

-Jay
@jaytechdad

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Jami Gold January 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

Hi Tech Guy,

Ha! That’s a good resolution. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

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Carradee January 2, 2013 at 4:35 am

I make goalsβ€”like writing goals or goals to finish a project by such-and-such a dateβ€”and while New Year’s is one of the times of year I might do that, I’ll also do the same at other times throughout the year, so it isn’t unique to the holiday.

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Jami Gold January 2, 2013 at 9:51 am

Hi Carradee,

Exactly! That’s my approach as well.

As I’ve mentioned in other comments, I think the problem with resolutions for some is that there’s such an aura of special-ness around New Year’s Resolutions that some forget that they have to come up with a strategy to make them happen, just like they do with any other goal. There’s no magic wand to suddenly make New Year’s Resolutions come true just from sheer power of wishing. πŸ™‚ But no strategy means no success. Thanks for the comment!

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Buffy Armstrong January 2, 2013 at 11:53 am

Happy New Year!!! I usually make a long list of resolutions that I know almost immediately that I won’t complete. Last year my resolution was to make better use of my time, which I was able to do 25% of the time. The other 75% of the time I got sidetracked by both my successes and my failures. So this year, my resolution is to stay focused and keep moving forward, i.e. to not get so caught up in my failures and successes that I do nothing for weeks on end.

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Jami Gold January 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Hi Buffy,

Yes, I tend to get burned out every once in a while and just need to “veg” for a couple of weeks. That veg time usually means playing on Twitter or something. πŸ™‚ Sometimes it’s hard to get out of that habit. LOL! Good luck with your resolution and thanks for the comment!

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Sonia G Medeiros January 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap but what matters is how they’re made. If they’re just “I vow to stop trying to take over the world” or some such, they probably aren’t going to work. They have to be treated as goals with a plan and all that. πŸ˜€ Given that, my New Year’s Resolution is to publish my first novel this year.

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Jami Gold January 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Hi Sonia,

Exactly. Wishing won’t make it so, but treating it like a goal where we have a strategy to get from point A to point B will work. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment and good luck!

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Jennifer Barricklow January 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I’m more interested in results than resolutions. πŸ™‚

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Jami Gold January 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Hi Jennifer,

Good point! Whether we call them goals or resolutions, the point is getting results. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

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Ifeoma Dennis January 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm

You have an awesome new year resolution, and I think I’ll add it to my list πŸ™‚
I already tripped on my first new year resolution- finish my book before 3rd of January, because school starts on the 7th and I need some rest.
I do make new year resolutions, because at the end of the year I usually ask myself if I kept it or didn’t.
Last year I told myself I’ll write a novel. It happened quite late (although I’m not yet done).
Happy new year Jami πŸ™‚

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Jami Gold January 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hi Ifeoma,

If you’re almost done with your novel, then it sounds like you’ve made great progress! One reason I hate to give myself succeed/fail resolutions is because I think making good progress does count. πŸ™‚ Good luck and thanks for the comment!

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