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I resolve

January 4, 2009

Every new year we make resolutions, promises to change behaviours, to stop doing things, to cease our bad habits.  This isn’t always a productive course to take.  Telling yourself that you will stop an established pattern is difficult, and it is very negative.  Resolutions are always more effective when positively phrased, and have an achievement, rather than a cessation.

The other important thing to do is make sure that you have selected an achievable goal.  An achievable goal has two elements.  Firstly, it has to be possible.  With the best will in the world, I would not be able to set a world record in the 100m sprint this year.  It is conceivable that I could run that fast (a very slim chance) but the level of training required could not be carried out in one year.  Therefore the goal is not possible, and is not achievable.

The second element is one that I had failed to realise, and it was not until I read this blog post by JA Konrath that I realised why many of my resolutions from last year were failures.  Only set goals you can control.

In order to achieve a resolution, you have to be in control of the elements of it.  For example, one of my resolutions last year was to have an agent by the end of the year.  But in order to get an agent, I would require to find an agent willing to take on my work.  That aspect is outwith my control.  I can’t make an agent take me on, therefore this resolution is not an achievable goal.  A better resolution would have been to search for an agent, but to declare that you will have one is setting your self up for a fall.

So, like JA Konrath, I invite you to look at your goals. Which ones are achievable by your own hard work and determination, and which will require luck or some other event outwith your control to achieve.  Concentrate your energy on those resolutions that are entirely within your own power.  You may be lucky, and your other resolutions may bear fruit.  But disappointment can follow if your resolutions all rely too much on luck for their achievement.

One Comment
  1. January 5, 2009 6:18 am

    In 2008 I resolved not to make resolutions. Somehow I knew that it was going to be a tough transition from a full on position as an editor and all the other volunteer pies I had my fingers in … and I chose a theme for my year instead. “Authenticity” was the lense through which I viewed my world and I liked it so much better – because you can’t really succeed nor fail at authenticity – being true to yourself is a work in progress.

    This year I’ve got another theme “Action” but I’ve created a business plan – per se, of how I want to approach my writing. Thankfully casting an eye back over my dot points, they almost all rely on me, rather than the luck of the universe (though the one about getting articles published .. hmmm?)

    Dustin Wax at The Writers Technology Companion has an interesting list of blog posts about writing and new years resolutions etc It can be found

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