New Year's Resolutions: How To Make Them Stick!
[box type="alert"]First up: As you read this, I'm heading out on tour in the US! If you're in Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Miami, New York, DC or Asheville, I'd love to meet you! If you'd like a signed book but can't make a stop, the stores can arrange one for you. This is the only time I'll be in the US in 2015, so come say hi, and make sure you tell me you're a PubCrawler! Now, on to today's post...[/box]
It's that time of year, and most of us jump in every January with a pile of new resolutions. Then, in December, most of us remember them with a guilty start, and wish we'd done better. It's okay to admit it—you're in a judgement free zone!
So, how do we do better? How do we make sure the resolutions we make in January actually impact our lives in 2015? At the bottom of this post I'm going to invite you to share yours, and I'd love to hear at the end of the year how you went!
To get us started, here are some of my writing-related resolutions for 2015:
Read 52 books—one for every week.
Complete drafts of two novels.
Yoga at least 5 days a week.
Do better at taking evenings off from writing.
Average 10,000 steps per day.
If you're pondering what sort of resolutions to make, I recommend Marissa Meyer's post on Business Plans for Writers, which I use every year to get myself thinking about my goals.
Goals and Aspirations
The main thing is to remember that there's a difference between a goal and an aspiration. One you control, the other you don't. Goals should be measurable, and they should be things you can personally do.
Goal: I'm going to be ready to query by March, and send out my first ten queries that month.
Aspiration: I'm going to sign with an agent in 2015.
Goal: I'm going to finish polishing my draft and send it to my agent by May.
Aspiration: I'm going to sell a novel this year.
See the difference? And the great thing about the goals is that they're easily broken down into steps.
If you want to send out ten queries in March, you can set up mini-goals for January and February around researching agents, and finishing polishing up your query and your manuscript. Those mini-goals can make all the difference. Rather than getting to March and realising you've got a bazillion things to do if you want to make it (and really, either not making it, or not doing it as well as you could), you can make sure you're on track by breaking down your goal and putting it in your diary.
Let's take my goals. How will I achieve them?
1. Read 52 books—one for every week. I'll achieve this by keeping a spreadsheet and tracking whether I'm up to date. I'll have a goal of five books for each month, which gives me a little wriggle room. I'll have a ready-to-go queue of books sitting on my mantlepiece so I can easily grab the next one, and I'll make a folder on my e-reader of books I'm planning on reading next.
2. Complete drafts of two novels. I'd better do this one, since they're both due to publishers this year! In consultation with my co-authors, I'll set up mini-goals for where we want to be each month of the year, so we know we're tracking on time.
3. Yoga at least 5 days a week. I'll achieve this by pairing up with an accountability buddy (an accountabilibuddy, vital to resolutions!) and scheduling a class every week with her. I've got an app that has my favourite routines on it, and I'll make sure I check in with my buddy to report on whether I'm doing it the rest of the time. I've also enlisted my husband to work out with me a couple of times a week. (By the way, if this doesn't sound like a writing-related goal, just eavesdrop on a group of authors…the subject of back pain will come up soon enough!)
4. Do better at taking evenings off from writing. One of the disadvantages of loving your job to pieces is that you're not always very good at stopping! I'm going to be achieving this one by setting a hard stop time each evening, and I've put notes in my diary to check in with myself on whether I'm achieving it. I've also enlisted a couple of friends to check regularly with me.
5. Average 10,000 steps per day. My biggest ally on this one will be my beloved treaddesk, but of course it takes more than that! I'll be using my Fitbit to make sure I'm averaging 70,000 steps each week, and I've added a bunch of buddies on there who have promised to taunt me if I fall behind!
So, time to share! What are your goals, and how are you planning on breaking them down and achieving them this year? I'd love to hear!