I’ve been hooing and humming over what to write in this space for two weeks. I had this awesome post written up at one point, and then my computer ate it. This made me think about failures, the nature of failures, and how it can destroy a writer’s hope of success and victory.
While this is more meant for writers, this can apply to anything you want to do with your life, be it find a new job, quit smoking, lose weight, or any other little (or big!) thing you want to do for yourself at the start of the year.
At three weeks into January, many people have already failed their New Year’s Resolutions. Some people set goals to write certain amounts of words today. Some plan to publish a novel during the year. I wanted to take 100 decent photos in January, but I haven’t even managed to get outside! Now, I have a good excuse, I get chilblains, and the temperature has been varying between cold and brutally cold – going outside to take photographs would be a death sentence for my feet. It doesn’t change the fact I’ve likely failed at my initial goal for January.
Let’s face it, New Year’s Resolutions are exercises in failure for a lot of people. Now, however, is a chance to turn resolution failures into goals and, ultimately, victory. Now is a time to reflect on what you really want, without the unnecessary pressure of a resolution guiding you in the wrong direction.
For me, I’ll be shoving my plan to take 100 photos in January. Instead, I’ll wait until the weather warms up a bit, and add all of the photos I should have taken but didn’t to my goals when I can go outside without harming my health.
Set One Goal at a Time
Unless you’re a veteran at making goals and finishing tasks, set one goal at a time. If you have too many goals and too many things needing done, the sense of being overwhelmed is a recipe for failure. Obviously, some goals (like taking 100 photographs in a month) stack well with other goals. It’s okay to stack a few goals like that together, if they’re small and won’t overwhelm you.
But large goals? Try to stick to one at a time, if you’re more used to defeat than victory.
Understand Your Limitations
Knowing yourself is key if you want to really succeed at a goal. Right now, you may not be very good at dedicating yourself to writing. You may have a short attention span. You might not believe in yourself right now. Write down your limitations. Make a list of the things that might stop you from accomplishing your goals.
Pick one of them, and make a goal to overcome that limit. Start small. Victory allows you to see the bright lining and reap the rewards of your hard work.
Failure makes it that much harder to pick yourself up and try again.
Set Realistic Goals
New Year’s Resolutions are often unreasonable, requiring someone to push themselves beyond their normal limits. Setting goals you can realistically manage is necessary to be victorious. Take a look at who you are, your work ethic, and what you want to accomplish.
Set a goal that allows you to strive for improvement, but also matches what you are currently capable of right now. Creating goals in anticipating of changing yourself is a recipe for failure. Creating goals that are already within your reach allows you to overcome the challenge you have set for yourself. Not only that, it gives you the opportunity to go beyond the basic minimum.
Victory is sweet. Exceeding the minimum requirement, and being able to look back at those accomplishments, is far sweeter still.
Every Day is a Chance to Start Fresh
Another trap I’ve seen with New Year’s Resolutions is that people view that one day as their lone chance to succeed at a year’s worth of things they want to accomplish.
Take that mentality, punch it in the nose, give it a pair of concrete boots, and toss it in the nearest deep body of water. Today is the day you pick a goal, sit down, and make it happen – or stand up and go for a walk around the block if you’re trying to make yourself a little healthier.
There’s nothing wrong with failing. But there is something wrong with not setting yourself up for the best chance at victory, each and every day.
Celebrate Your Victories
Don’t be afraid to reward yourself with something small when you accomplish a goal, even if it is a cup of nice coffee, a small piece of chocolate, or a pat on your own back.
You’ve accomplished something for yourself, and that’s always a good thing.
Good luck, and may 2014 be something more than a bunch of failed New Year’s Resolutions.