Saturday, December 31, 2016

5 reasons resolutions fail and how to fix them

THIS WAS MY DECEMBER 31, 2015 POST

It bears repeating...

As during 2016 I: 

- wrote and published book 3 in the Caleb Cove Mystery Series - CAME HOME TOO LATE
- helped plan and participated in panels at When Words Collide
- signed with a publisher to write an historical book set in Nova Scotia and then researched like crazy
- plotted, planned and outlined book 4 in the Caleb Cove Mystery Series - CAME HOME FROM THE GRAVE
- went under the knife and got myself another titanium knee! 
- designed and presented two, full day workshops for ARWA
- lived my life and had fun!

New Year’s Resolutions?

Run, run fast in the other direction...

Modern society has taken up goal setting and making New Year’s Resolutions with a vengeance. Almost everyone talks about that resolution list. Either they make one or they declare they are not making one.

Looking back over the years I recall more failures to follow through (both mine and others) than I do accomplishments. Weight loss maybe the #1 resolution, or within my writing world,  finishing a book tops the list.

Why we fail: Our resolutions are:


  • Overwhelming large (Save the world, buy a house, write four books….)
  • Non- specific ('I want to be thin' instead of 'I want to lose fifteen pounds.')
  • Not task/action oriented (Break that “lose fifteen pounds” into steps you can DO)
  • Too large to chew. (I will write three hours every day – if you go to work and have a family, this might be more than can be managed.)
  • Stated in words that let our brains off the hook. (I will lose fifteen pounds leaves your brain saying – oh no worries – 'will' is in the future - she wants to do this later.)

How do we fix that?

  • Step back and make sure you have a resolution that is an achievable goal. Be realistic about your life style, the people around you and the temptations that will accost you. One small step achieved is more effective than one giant leap that misses the mark.
  • Break it down. Start with the end goal and then back it up.  If you want to publish a book, start with that as a fait accompli and ask what happened right before you published. Maybe it is ‘up-loaded book to Amazon.’ Then ask: What did I have to do right before that? Completing edits received from you line editor might be the answer. Work backwards until you get to that which is manageable now. For me that is writing free-fall pages for fifteen minutes every day.
  • Make sure it is an action step. “Losing weight” is a goal. “Drinking two glasses of water before every meal” is an action step.

Now let’s get to the “Bite sized habits."


  1. Write down 12 things you need to do this year to reach your overall goal.
  2. Prioritize them.
  3. Assign one to each month.
  4. Tackle one new task a month
  5. At the first of each month add the new task for that month.

 8 Helpful concepts to keep you on track:

  • Tackle one task at a time. Maybe you alternate: writing one month and health the next.
  • Realize that it takes 30 days to hammer a habit into place. Keep at it for 30 days.
  • Be aware that consistency is more effective than volume.
  • Figure out your “bite size.”  Set a manageable time for writing or exercise or piano practice piano. Find what works for your life and your brain.
  • Be aware that some days you might fall short and be prepared to forgive yourself. Too often we miss for two days and our thinker says ‘you can’t do this – you might as well quit.’ Tell your thinker to buzz off and to get back at it the next day.
  • Use positive phrasing. I AM WRITING fifteen minutes a day. This sets your inner gyroscope to get at it! (Check out Shad Helmstetter's material. A free PDF download)What To Say When You Talk To Yourself
  • At the end of each month reward yourself.
    • Make a list of rewards when you set up your plan.
    • Make sure you do use the rewards. You don’t want your brain saying “Hey – you didn’t give me that reward you promised – why should I help you next month?”
  • If you know you are going to have days you can’t fit things in – schedule that as a planned day off. And then take it off so you stay honest with your brain.
  • Pick tasks you like or tasks you can live with. I dislike running but enjoy my bike and free weights.

Setting small, daily habits supports our life and goals. 

Doing these does not mean you don’t do more. It simply means that these are agreements with yourself that you can meet. Small success create a foundation for bigger ones. Making your tasks a daily choice leaves room to quit. Make it a daily habit – like brushing your teeth- and don’t think

JUST DO IT

 "Your life works to the degree you keep your agreements." Werner Erhard 

And this includes the agreements you make with yourself.

6 comments:

  1. Excellent post! I like the focus on taking action and developing bite-sized habits. Like you, I have a smoothie each morning - a habit I've maintained for three years. I aim for 20-30 minute sessions on my treadmill at least 4X a week. I'm off track with my writing but plan to gear up in the New Year.

    Best wishes for 2016, Mahrie!

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    1. Happy New Year, Joanne. We all get off track at times. The trick is, for me anyway, not to beat myself up about it, set a new start date and get back "on the horse" as they say. Happy writing in 2016.

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  2. Inspirational. Enjoyed reading the examples. Happy New Year, Mahrie!

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  3. Happy New Year, Melodie. Thanks for stopping by - and best of everything with your projects for 2016.

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  4. I'm especially impressed with the one-blog-post-per-week accomplishment! I'm proud of myself when I manage one a month! You're setting the bar high, Mahrie, so maybe I'll try for two a month in 2016. Maybe. :-)

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    1. Hi Laurel - thanks for having a look! I tried one a month, 2 a week and so on until after about 2 years I settled in at one per week. I keep it simple - this month was longer than many. Good luck with them - moving to 2 a month is a sensible upward step. I'll be watching! LOL Happy New Year.

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