On New Year’s Eve many people made resolutions, commitments to be better at something we feel is important in our lives, or things we want to do or places to visit, yadda, yadda, yadda… Yesterday morning was met with a dedicated group of humans who woke up energized to get going on that new start, except that group that made their resolutions between the fifth and sixth rounds woke up late and with no clue as to what they committed to! Ahhh, ignorance is bliss!
Many of those who were on track with their resolutions yesterday will be committed again today and perhaps even though next week, but soon that commitment will begin to waver (I can skip that spin class today and get back to it tomorrow… or next week… or next year…) and chances are by the end of the month the resolutions that were made will be discarded and chalked up as good efforts.
Studies show that only 8% of those who make New Year’s resolutions keep them, but why is that? There are a number of opinions out on the web as to why those New Year’s resolutions are so hard to keep but one overarching thought seems to tie them together: Unrealistic Goals.
For ridiculous illustration purposes, let’s say my resolution is to finally learn to play bass guitar and I set my goal to join the Rolling Stones for a reunion tour. New Year’s day I run out, buy a sweet looking bass guitar and a stack of Marshal amps and come home to listen to Satisfaction all day long to pick up the riffs. As you might guess it doesn’t go so well (does everyone get their fingers stuck between the strings or it just me?) but I’m not giving up! I keep at it for a week (I really need to see about getting these strings set closer together…). Two weeks later, I still have no Satisfaction and I now actually hate the song and have mini seizures when I hear the first chord. I take the bass and amp, stick it in the closet with the rest of the a stuff I bought for my resolutions of 2013, 2012, 2011 (you get the picture) and resort to being happy to just be able to see the Stones on tour. I would have looked so awesome up there with them!
To set such a lofty goal to build a resolution around is a set up for failure. I’m not saying to not have a goal of finding an agent and publishing your work as that’s the reason most of us write. But perhaps setting such a large and broad goal isn’t the way to go about it. Perhaps a better resolution would be to sit yourself in front of the computer and write or draw for twenty minutes a day. If you find yourself on a roll then keep your butt in the seat, if not, then carry on with your day. Build good writing/illustrating habits and stop worrying about long term goals that can be overwhelming and ultimately counterproductive.
In my Rolling Stones example, perhaps I should have broken my resolutions into achievable steps: take bass lessons, find some local musicians to play with when I felt comfortable with my skills, played local clubs, and so on. Would it guarantee I would play with the Rolling Stones? No but it would get my closer to my goal. Are we all going to be J.K. Rowling? Nope, but we can be published I we stay on track.
Now – take that resolution sheet that says “Get agent and sell work” and tear it up and start over (I promise I won’t tell). At the top of the list write that first step of many (write/illustrate 20 minutes per day, find a critique group, research agents, read and/or examine more illustrations in my genre) that will get you moving toward your goal. I know you can do it!