Ditch the resolutions? How will we get anything done at all? The answers might surprise you!
I’ve always been a sucker for New Year’s resolutions. I love the idea of turning the calendar page and starting out with a fresh, new year full of hope, plans and grand ideas. My typical resolutions from years (and years and years) past generally took up 2-3 typed pages. Oh, so full of good ideas and ‘new clean slate’ plans, am I.
But it turns out, for most those years, I was usually like the (around) 80% of the other people out there at the beginning of a new year: dead in the water before the end of the first month!
In fact, so many people give up their resolutions by mid-January, it’s been dubbed “Quitter’s Day”.(That date for 2020, it was January 19.) A handful of people might last beyond the fated Quitter’s Day, but in the end, only about 8% of the people who make resolutions stick to them for the long haul.
Creatives, notoriously, are known for big thinking. Our brains constantly swirl and come up with great ideas. Those great ideas turn into resolutions and/or goals. And we gauge our ‘success’ on how well we accomplish those plans.
But ultimately, we (along with most of the population) fail with even our most exciting resolutions and plans. (But it doesn’t have to be that way.) If you are part of the majority that has had trouble keeping resolutions, I’ve got good news: there ARE some ways to help you succeed. And, they aren’t even hard things to do!
Why 92% Fail
What happened to the other 92% of the folks with big plans and grand ideas to turn their lives around?
There are lots of theories as to why resolutions don’t last. I’ll give you a quick rundown of some of the biggest reasons resolutions fail:
- They’re too broad
- We make too many of them
- They’re too BIG to accomplish in a single year (or the time we set to accomplish them)
- They don’t really matter to us deep down (we make them because they seem like good ones to make, or out of fear, guilt or wanting to appear a certain way to others)
- We don’t make a realistic plan on what we’re going to do in order to keep those resolutions.
- We don’t budget the extra time or money it may take to complete them
- We don’t have any accountability built into what we’re doing
I remember one year telling a friend that one of the goals from the previous year what that I had wanted to lose 45 pounds. She looked surprised and asked, “How’d you do?” I sheepishly smiled and said, “I still have 40 to go!” I made the resolution, but I didn’t put anything into place in my life to help me attain that goal!
What the 8% Do Right (or Why There’s Hope for the Rest of Us)
One of the first things is: Ditch the Resolutions. Make GOALS instead.
A resolution (according to Dictionary.com) is a resolve; a decision or determination. A goal is the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. One is a nice thought, the other is a plan.
Have you heard of SMART goals?
Maybe you have a goal to create more art in 2020. Instead of keeping that as a vague goal, turn it into something specific that you can measure, and attain in a certain time (and that’s actually meaningful to you).
So for instance, the goal of creating more art in 2020, or being more creative, or taking more time to create could become something like: I plan on creating 10 new paintings/patterns/pieces by June 1st to enter them into the annual Artisan Show.
From there, make a plan:
- Where will you schedule the time to create each day/week?
- What kinds of extra expenses will you incur (supplies, fees to enter a show, etc.)
- What sorts of resistance or roadblocks can you anticipate? (How will you overcome them?)
- Who will you tell and help hold you accountable (to up your chances of success by 65-95%)
Look at both what you plan on accomplishing going forward, but also explore what has kept you stuck in the past.
Setting Yourself up for Amazing Stuff
(Or, how to be part of the 8% that accomplishes their goals in 2020)
START WITH ONE
Creatives are usually multi-passionate people that excel in a variety of mediums and are filled with a passion and curiosity that keeps them going in many directions at once.
While this makes for a life full of discovery and creativity, it’s hard to make progress on important goals. Why? Because you only have a tiny fraction of energy and time to devote to each of those things you want in your life.
Rachel Hollis gives a great example of how this multi-passionate problem hinders us. She says to think about a soccer field. You’ve got 12 soccer balls and you have to kick them all down the field. You’re only allowed to make 12 kicks, so each ball gets a single kick to propel it down the field and closer to your goals.
Or, the same soccer field and the same 12 kick allotment. But this time you only have ONE ball to kick down the field. You get to kick it 12 times! Think of how much faster you’re going to get that one ball down the field than if you’re trying to kick 12?
Narrowing your goals to the MOST important goal first doesn’t mean you can’t pursue more than one thing or have more than one goal. It just means you’ll make more progress if you start with one, get that one goal running in your life almost on auto-pilot, and then pick up another to add to it.
For example, if you want to create daily, get your cards into a dozen boutiques, and learn Adobe Illustrator, focus on just one first. Maybe it’s creating daily. Once you’ve established a daily practice in your life where you’re hitting that goal regularly just as though it’s second nature (ie you don’t have to think about it or work at it anymore), then add the next goal.
Kick that one goal down the field with all of your focus, then come back and kick another down. You’ll make faster progress all around and your ability to meet (and even exceed) your goals increases as well.
ALIGN YOUR THINKING
So much of our battle is in the mind. This is especially true of creatives. Help set yourself up for an amazing year (where you accomplish your goals), by working on your mindset. If you want to read a REALLY good book to help you accomplish ANYTHING, check out Marie Forleo’s book: Everything is Figureoutable. It’s a game-changer. Really!
Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you’re giving up/sacrificing/can’t do. If you’re excited and swap your mindset, it helps a ton when it’s your schedule time to work on your goal and you’re too tired or feeling totally drained of anything creative.
EMPTY YOUR BRAIN
If you’re familiar with Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, you’ve probably heard of Morning Pages–the idea of dumping your thoughts out first thing in the morning. This dumping on the page creates space to empty out your head and problem-solve issues in your life. This practice helps you get ‘unstuck’.
If you haven’t tried this exercise before, it’s very simple. Grab a notebook (writing by hand is best) and just brain dump. It doesn’t have to make sense, be logical or sound beautiful. In fact, if you can’t think of anything to say, say that. Over and over, until your brain gets tired of it and you start writing other things. Do this for 3 pages every morning.
Some of my best and most profound ideas have come directly from this practice of Morning Pages, which I’ve done for years.
FILL YOURSELF BACK UP
We live in a world that is loud, crazy and always on the move. Busy-ness is a virtue in our modern society. The more you do, the ‘better’ you’re thought of. It’s hard to step away from the toxic drug of busy.
But it’s so important for a creative to do! Some parts of the creative process need downtime. This might be as simple as taking a walk or a power nap. It might be going to a movie or an art museum or taking a bubble bath or sleeping in a little longer on the weekend.
For years, ‘Busy’ was my drug of choice which I both loathed and loved it at the same time. If I wasn’t working long hours and running in circles, I felt lazy and unaccomplished. It’s taken years of deliberate work get beyond this, and if I let up at all on my diligence against it, it flares it’s ugly head again. It’s a powerful force working against my good.
What I’ve learned, though, is that self-care is so important. Downtime is necessary for the creative process. I can’t give out if I have nothing within to give from.
And, in fact, creativity flows for me much easier when I’m regularly allowing myself to be filled.
Even so, I have a sign hanging in my studio that says: Stop the Glorification of Busy. I need that constant reminder!
DON’T GO IT ALONE
Lastly, set yourself up for massive success by enlisting a friend, family member, co-worker, etc who will help keep you accountable. It’s even more helpful if that person also wants YOU to help them stay accountable to their goals.
How you set this up doesn’t really matter as long as you’re consistent.
For me, I have an accountability person with my business goals. We text each other on workdays by 10:00 am to say the two projects we will complete each day with our business. (These goals for the day fit in with my overall goals for the year.) Then, we text each other by 10:00 pm of the same day to report back if we’ve accomplished those goals or not.
Almost always we accomplish them. Because we’re accountable to each other.
While a system like the above might be too much for some people, figure out what works for you. Maybe you meet up for coffee once a month and spell out your goals for the month and the progress you made the previous month. Maybe it’s a once a week phone call. Whatever it is, make a commitment to sticking with it.
DON’T WAIT TO GET BACK UP
If you fall, brush yourself off and get back up TODAY. Don’t wait until Monday, or after the vacation or when the kids are back in school. Start again today. Don’t look at missing the mark as a failure, think instead of how much you’re learning and accomplishing, even when you’re not perfect.
Figure out another angle, get up and give it your all. Don’t let setbacks get you down or stop you in your tracks. YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Since I am writing this after the official ‘Quitter’s Day’ of 2020, and if you are in the group of folks that already gave up on their resolutions, tweak them into goals and get going again. You can do it. Set yourself up for success with some (or all) of the above helps, and watch to see your dreams unfold in this bright, shiny new year!