Unfortunately, we all know what happens to resolutions. why do so many resolutions turn out to be nothing more than wishful thinking? There are several reasons. However, the most significant of these is that they are imprecise, there's no way to measure them, and they do not include an action plan.
I am going to suggest that this year instead of setting a "resolution," that you set goals backed up with an action plan.
First, let me define a goal. A goal is a specific activity which is under your control to complete. Goals are behavioral in nature. Let's take a typical New Year's resolution: "I want to lose weight this year." That is not a goal. First it is imprecise. How much weight do you want to lose? Secondly, there is no idea of how long this will take. What is the timeframe for this weight loss? Finally, Is this actually under your control? Probably not. If you do the right things, it is likely to occur, but by no means certain.
The resolution doesn't fit any of these criteria. So, let's construct a goal that is measurable, has a timeframe attached to it, and is under your control.
"By June 1, I will have reduced my calorie intake by 25% and will be performing 20 min. of aerobic exercise per day."
Barring illness or physical injury, this is something that is under your control. It is also likely to produce weight loss however, the amount of weight loss will depend a great deal on your own physiology. Therefore, you could not say you would lose 20 pounds doing this. That part is out of your control.
As a writer, many years I have started out the year with the resolution, "I want to write more this year." You can see the problem with that. It is not measurable, it is imprecise, and has no action plan attached to it
Here's how I can improve on it, I creating a list of goals.
- I will complete three novels of 50,000 words each by the end of the year.
- I will edit those three novels into a publishable shape by the end of the year.
- I will write a short story every other month
- I will submit three novels and three short stories for publication this year.
- I will write at least 500 words a day related to one or more of the novels.
- I will set aside a half hour a day into 15 min. segments to write on my novel.
I can also get accountability from others. I can post my goals in an online writer's group. I can tell a family or a friend or I can covenant with others who want to be held accountable. However, I need some method of measuring my success.
As I'm sitting here writing this, I am thinking that this forum might be a good place for me to hold myself accountable. After the first, I will post my own goals and action plans for the year. At the beginning of each week I will post my weekly goals and action plans. At the end of the week, I will post the results. If I can find a way to set up a word meter on my site, I may even post word count daily.
Why not share some of your goals and action plans for 2011?