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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!