New Years Resolutions 2018!

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Happy New Year and welcome to 2018! Ever since we got married, it’s been a New Years tradition every year to read the shit out of this Cracked article:

I love this article because it is exactly what I need to get my ass in gear for the new year.

In helping me make my new years resolutions, my favourite take away from this article is this:

“If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships…the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs.

Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving, and polite you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, you will be left out in the cold.

Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about love and kindness — don’t those things matter? Of course. As long as they result in you doing things for people that they can’t get elsewhere”

That’s why David Wong, the author of this article, says that in order to become a better person, just being kind isn’t enough. You need to produce things—things that the world desperately NEEDS. And it doesn’t have to make money but it does have to benefit people.

Now, that’s some really great tough love right there, but wanting to change yourself and actually changing yourself are two different things. This is why even though making New years resolutions is a popular tradition, a staggering 88% of all new years resolutions FAIL within the first 6 months. So why is this exactly? Are we just all not committed enough? Too lazy? Too stupid?

Well as it turns out, there are specific reasons why New years Resolutions fail:

Why New Years Resolution Don’t work

1) Too Vague

Ever make resolutions like “Exercise More”, “Save Money”, “Be Healthier” or “Be More Resourceful”?

The problem with these goals is that they’re too vague. What exactly does exercise more mean? How much more? How money do you want to save? What does it mean to be healthier or more resourceful? If the goal isn’t specific, you can’t track it. And if you can’t track it, you have no idea if you’re actually going in the right direction and at the end of the day, you give up without accomplishing anything.

2) Too Big

Goals like “Become published author”, or “Run a Marathon” or “Start a Business” are like staring up at a Mt. Everest, thinking “Wow, that is so far up. I’m NEVER going to make it”. As a result, you psych yourself out and you never make it. If you make a massive resolution like that you are setting yourself up for failure because your brain immediately latches on to the fact that goal is way to lofty for you to achieve.

3) Not Tracked

If you were trying to drive to a new restaurant you’ve never been to, would you randomly drive around the city until you happen to pass by it? Or would you put it into Google maps and figure out exactly where to go? Not tracking your progress is the same as driving around blindly, hoping you’ll get to your destination.

Why I’m Making One Anyways

Despite all the reasons above on why 88% of new years resolutions fail, I’m STILL making one anyways. Why? Because if you don’t, you fail by default. And like I said in a previous article, if you choose NOT to do something just because you might fail, the time will pass anyway. A year from now in 2019, I don’t want to see that I choose to fail by default and the time did indeed pass anyway.

How to Make New Years Resolutions that Stick

1) Make it Specific

Goals must be SPECIFIC. If you say “I’m going to write 1 blog post a week on Mondays for 3 months”, you’re much more likely to get it done than just “start a blog and write regularly”. That’s because our brains are wired for reward and so we want to get the task done as fast as possible to experience the dopamine payoff at the end. But if we see a vague task, we don’t know where to start and can’t estimate how much time it will take, and that gives us an excuse to bail. So if you make a resolution, make sure it’s as specific as possible. This will give you the best chance for success.

2) Break it Down

Like the saying goes “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. This is why your task needs to be broken down so your brain can process each task and you’ll be motivated to actually DO it. “Write a page a day, 3 times a week, over 6 months” will get you a book. But “just write a book” will probably get you 50 pages for the first week and then just boredom, booze, and empty pages. Break that shit down and make sure there are due dates tied to each of those pieces.

3) Track Your Progress

This can be done in many ways. Some people need an external driver, like getting a friend to ride them until it gets done. Okay, that came out sounding dirtier than I intended, but you know what I mean. Other people can function by using internal tracking like setting reminders and deadlines on your phone. However you do it, figure out a way to track your progress that works for you and stick to it.

So that’s how I’m going to be making New Year resolutions this year. But before I do, I wanted to go back and revisit the New Year resolutions I made at the beginning of 2017 and see how I did. Back in January, I wanted to accomplish the following things:

1) Launch an app
2) Become a Public Speaker
3) Write a non-fiction book

So how did we do? Pretty good, actually. Admittedly these were pretty lofty goals, so we would have been happy if even get one of these got done. But instead, we ended up getting TWO of these done! We ended up launching our app named OurStory back in June at the American Library Association conference in Chicago. That was a lot of fun and we made a lot of new friends while doing it. Awesome.

And I am happy to say I did my first ever public speaking gig at no less than the Chautauquas in Aug and Oct, and let me tell you, it was the greatest feeling ever. Especially when people came up to me afterwards and told me “Wow, that should be a TED talk,” that really meant a lot to me. And done in the context of meeting our tribe at Chautauqua being the greatest week of our lives , that experience really put a bow on 2017 for me.

That being said, our 3rd goal failed because, quite frankly, the blog blew up in readership this year and we ended up concentrating on that instead. This weird little blog of ours is only a year and a half old, yet we’ve hit 2.5 MILLION views as of the time of this writing. So I’m happy to drop one resolution in favour of accomplishing something I hadn’t even set out to do last year.

So for 2018, what do we want to accomplish this year? Actually, it’s real simple this time around. We’re just going to have one this year. Which is…

1) Write a non-fiction book!

Last year we missed one, and like Captain Ahab with Moby Dick, that irks me. So this year, that’s all we’re going to focus on. And in order to break it down and be specific, over the holiday break we’ve actually been hard at work writing up a book proposal for the project and (I can’t believe I get to say this) I’m happy to announce that we’ve managed to sign a literary agent to represent us! We’re super excited about this, but keeping our expectations checked because, you know, the publishing industry.

We will have more news for you as the year goes on, but hopefully this time next year we will be checking this one off our list.

Tell me, do you have any New Year resolutions for 2018? Tell us in the comments!

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32 thoughts on “New Years Resolutions 2018!”

  1. I look forward to reading your new book! Let me guess, it’s either going to be about finances or perpetually traveling the world? 🙂

    Maybe your next series should be about your journey to write and publish your next book?Behind the Pen: 52 posts on the highs, lows, and hard work needed to get a book written and published.

    1. Ooh…book about writing a book. Going meta 🙂 I like it (though Stephen King already beat me to the punch by writing the best book about writing). But first I have to get the first book written. As for your guess, it’s a good one. I would say a little from A, a little from B.

      1. David Wong is really, really good at writing approachable articles that kick you in the teeth.

        Here are a few examples:

        He also has a great trilogy of novels, the first one is called ‘John Dies at the End’. They are also good at making you feel vaguely uncomfortable while being entertaining.

  2. Thanks FIRECracker. It’s great how you listed out the main problems and then offered tangible, one-to-one solutions.

    In my case, I tend not to make resolutions. Rather, I try to regularly look at where I am at and where I would like to be. This allows me to set and adjust goals when appropriate without being tied to “artificial” calendar-year deadlines. Within that, though, your 3 suggestions make a ton of sense, and are a great way of living on the correct side of the “wanting to change yourself and actually changing yourself” divide.

    Happy new year!

    1. “I try to regularly look at where I am at and where I would like to be.”

      This sounds like a great way to make progress. Thanks for sharing your strategy!

  3. Wow! Leave it to MR to go big! You guys rock and are such an inspiration. Hope our paths cross again sometime this year and hopefully we can make a scuba dive happen too!

  4. Thanks for the article. I enjoyed it. And congrats on the Agent. I self published two books. Never had the courage to submit to agent/publisher. This is no small accomplishment!

    1. Thanks Doc G! And congrats on publishing two books! Just finishing the damn manuscript is so hard, anyone who has the guts to do it and put it out there deserves a big applause!

    1. It’s personal finance/retirement + travel 🙂 Will update you all on the process once we’re farther down the road. *fingers crossed*

  5. Before I set goals for the new year, one of my favorite things to do it make a list of accomplishments. I figure just because I didn’t set something as a goal doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate it!

    1. Love it, Brandon! No way I would be able to keep writing if I didn’t constantly bribe myself with Pho or bubble tea 🙂 (I’m SO Asian, I know). That’s another good point for making good resolutions–reward yourself and look back at how far you’ve come!

  6. I have never read this article (cracked) before, and thanks for sharing!

    It hits alot of great points about most resolutions failing and you highlight them even more. Most resolutions are vague or outcome oriented instead of action oriented. The problem with becoming “healthy” is that you can’t accurately determine if you became “healthy.” You can instead say that you will “walk 3 miles a day.” This will give you a more specific and attainable habit that will compound and eventually aid in you becoming “healthier.”

    Thanks again for the share!

  7. I am not big on New Year resolutions, I think it is just another excuse for procrastination. Why do people have to wait until January 1st to stop smoking, start saving, go to the gym? Why?? Just do it now! Set goals and go for it, whether it is January 1st or the middle of July:) But if it works for some people, I guess it’s better than not setting any goals at all…and I can’t wait to hear more about this book.

  8. No Resolutions, just a few changes, yesterday we bought a family pass at the gym for 6 months, i consider this one of my best investments. Investing in your self, your health, and your family.

    I also have been lucky enough to realize a purpose to fulfill, and that is to help people recognize and appreciate the simpler things in life. Flowers, humming birds, hiking in the woods, old cars, music, using your brain, and financial freedom among others.

  9. This article perfectly describes my 2017 and 2018 goals.

    My 2017 goals were too vague (read more books, learn more Chinese, exercise more). Although compared to 2016 I did indeed do more of those things, it didn’t feel very fulfilling.

    For 2018 I got specific (read X number of books, complete Y number of Chinese lessons) and am working on a template to track my success. So far, it has been much more enjoyable when working on one of my goals since I have milestones to achieve.

    My spouse and I have been talking about creating a blog, however, I wasn’t sure how committed I wanted to be (or how much time I would have to devote to it). I established a goal of just writing a specific number of posts this year for myself, just to see how much I liked it. But my spouse turbo charged the blog writing idea and wants to go live by the summer. So now our joint goal is to launch a blog this year. 🙂

  10. Great steps on ensuring you set realistic new years resolution goals that can be achieved.
    A lot of people set themselves up for failure.
    Looking forward to the release of the book!

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