2018 is here, everyone! So it’s that time of year where we’re trying to tell ourselves that we’re going to get things done in the new year. We’re setting goals for ourselves that we all mean to work on, but…you know, might forget about in the next month or two. We have this newfound resolve to turn our lives in the right direction, and honestly, that’s amazing. However, whenever I hear people talking about “resolutions,” I can’t help but feel like that sounds like they’re trying to reach their final form in the span of a year. Rather than making a resolution with a finite end, I think habit-forming resolutions that turn into long-term change work better for setting us up for success. 

I’m at a point in my life where I want to put forth all of my energy into developing my writing career, to the point where I’m trying to push myself to crank out a novel/novella (a shorter novel, for those who just asked “a Spanish soap opera?” in their head.) So when people have been asking me what my new year’s resolution is, I’ve been saying “to publish a novel.” However, a novel is a huge thing to write, edit, and get published all in the span of the year. Will I actually complete all of that before December 31st, 2018? As long as one or both of the two insane world leaders don’t decide to push the button for the nukes, then sure! It’s possible. A more attainable goal that would work both in the short-term and the long-term would be to commit to working on a novel/novella every day (or several times a week), and it would create the good habits in me that would get me closer to publishing a novel in 2018. There are outside aspects that could interfere with the finite goal of publishing a novel, but it’s more feasible, and it would create more of a trajectory for success if I created the habit of working on a novel throughout the week. It’s not to say that publishing a novel this year would be too lofty, but rather, getting myself in the routine of putting my energy into this kind of writing project is something I have way more control over.

We often see these finite resolutions in the form of body image, diet, and career success, and they’re usually a be-all end-all sort of deal. It’s usually something like “I want to lose X amount of weight,” or “I want to get a promotion,” and while those are good goals to have, forming good habits that get you beyond those goals would be even better. If you say “I want to eat better and go to the gym more,” you can set yourself up to create a plan and schedule for a weight loss goal to happen beyond your expectations. If you say “I want to be more proactive at work and contribute more ideas,” then you’ll set yourself up to have these useful skills no matter where you’re trying to get a promotion. Instead of making a resolution to go straight to the finish line before the year is up, you set yourself up for more success by focusing on the part of the track that you still have to run on. 

I’m not saying that goals with finite ends are counter-productive, because I think they can still help us get started on achieving great things. I think me saying that I want to publish a novel in 2018 is a good way to get me started on a big writing project, but if I don’t actually finish said project in the upcoming year, I’ll look back on it with some disappointment. I’ll feel more stressed about trying to get it done rather than equipping myself with the ability to work consistently on something that I’m passionate about. I think that committing to working on the skills that will help with publishing a novel would set me up more for success in 2018, because while publishing a novel would be a dream come true, it’s a dream I’d want to come true beyond 2018, as well. Making the goal to chip away at a novel more often in 2018 will form the novel-creating habits I need to be successful, and will make me feel more accomplished as I look back on the year in full, whether I end up publishing it or not. Once I pick up the momentum from working on novels (or even short stories) more this year, it’ll be easier to crank more out as the years go on. At least, that’s what I’m thinking will happen.

Goals are what keep us going. If we didn’t have something to work toward, life would be pretty boring. However, making goals with a finite end, as opposed to making resolutions to work on lasting change, set us up to only work hard until that goal is reached. Making those finite goals can definitely help those who need to see an end point to whatever they’re working on, but I think making smaller goals that will lead up to those bigger, more distant goals is what will drive the momentum for us to succeed in our endeavors.

What resolutions have you made for the year? Let’s talk about them in the comments!

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