Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, only to quit before you even make it out of January.
Come on, be honest.
I know at least some of you are guilty of this because, for Americans at least, today is the day that we are most likely to quit our New Year’s resolutions.
It’s only day 17, you guys, and most of us are giving up! Why is that?
I suspect it’s because a lot of us make resolutions that we’re not really prepared to keep in the first place. We want to lose weight, but we don’t actually want to eat healthier. We want to learn a new language, but we don’t actually want to study. We want to write a book, but we don’t actually want to spend time every day putting words on paper.
Don’t worry, I get it. I’ve been there. But I also have experience with overcoming the urge to quit. So, for those of you not quite ready to give up, I present 5 tips for beating National Quitter’s Day:
- Remind Yourself Why You Started
You made this resolution for a reason. Remember that? I know it can get a little lost in the day-to-day struggle, but you wanted something. Today, take a little time to remind yourself what you wanted and why you wanted it. Ask yourself if it’s worth the effort. Ask yourself if you’re going to be making the exact same resolution next year if you quit this time. Ask yourself if you’re going to be disappointed to have to start all over again from day 1.
I recommend writing all of this down. It sounds silly, but writing things down is a commitment. You might find it harder to convince yourself that your goals don’t matter when you have it on paper that they do.
- Readjust Your Goals
This isn’t cheating! I swear it’s not!
Look, I know the bright-eyed optimist that you were on January 1st thought that you were going to be perfect. You thought that you were going to wake up every day and do exactly what you were supposed to, when you were supposed to, how you were supposed to.
Time has a way of making a liar of the optimist in us.
By now you probably have a better idea of what is realistic to expect of yourself. For instance, if your resolution was to write for an hour every day and you’re finding that too demanding.
Readjust. Can you commit to a half hour each day? Fifteen minutes? Ten? Pick something that is challenging, but achievable for you.
Ask yourself which is better:
To write for a fraction of the time you’d hoped each day, or not to write at all?
To make small, healthy changes to your habits, or to give up on health altogether because you didn’t manage to become an Instagram-worthy health guru overnight?
To only read a couple more books than you did last year, or to give up on your reading TBR pile because you will never get through as many books as you want to?
You already know the answer.
- Find Support
Contrary to what you might think, there is no special prize for going it alone. There’s no award for suffering in silence. There’s no glory in refusing to find help when you need it.
Now, support can come in various forms: friends, family, strangers online, and even professionals. You can find someone to be your cheerleader, or you can find a group of people that are trying to achieve the same goal as you.
Whatever you choose, just find someone you can talk to when you’re feeling like quitting. I’ve found that even the slightest encouragement helps to keep me on track.
- Break Your Goal into Smaller Pieces
I talk mostly about writing on here, so we’re going to stick with that as an example, but you can apply this to just about anything.
So, let’s say your resolution was to write a novel this year.
That’s amazing! An excellent, worthwhile goal.
But it’s also a BIG goal. It doesn’t tell you anything about how you’re actually going to achieve it. And when you sit down to your dedicated time for achieving this goal, you won’t have any idea what you need to do each day to make it happen.
Novels aren’t written in a day. You need to break this big, year-long goal, into smaller daily/weekly/monthly goals.
You can set a daily word count goal. For instance, if you were trying to write a 100,000-word novel in a year, you could break that up into a daily target of 274 words—if you’re writing every day. Or you could set a weekly goal of 1,924 words if you aren’t interested in writing every single day, or if you’d rather vary the amount you write on each day.
You can set a time goal instead. Perhaps you want to work on your novel for ten minutes a day. Or thirty minutes. Or an hour. Whatever is both challenging, and reasonable to fit into your schedule. This one may be a little tougher to set if you’re a newer writer because it can be difficult for you to know how much time you need to devote to writing each day in order to finish the novel by the end of the year. Still, this can be a good way of ensuring that you’re making progress every day.
Not only does breaking your goal up into smaller chunks take the guess work out of how you’re going to achieve your bigger goal, it gives you something to celebrate each day.
If you’re new to my blog, you might not be aware that I’m in the middle of a challenge called Milwordy (writing one million words in a year). I started in September so I’m nearly halfway through. If I hadn’t broken that big one million words goal into smaller daily goals, not only would I be totally lost about how much I have to achieve each day, I wouldn’t be able to feel any real accomplishment until I finish the challenge.
That’s a long time to work without feeling any sense of triumph.
Instead, every day when I hit my daily word count goal, I feel like I really achieved something. Hitting 2,740 words today isn’t my ultimate goal, but I congratulate myself for it anyway. That, believe it or not, has kept me going strong for over 400,000 words in the past four and a half months.
- Keep Going for One More Day
This is a little trick I use a lot. If I feel like quitting, I ask myself to keep going for one more day. Just one. If tomorrow I feel like I absolutely cannot continue, then I’m allowed to quit.
What this does is power me through a moment of uncertainty. I find that, more often than not, I can always make it through one more day. And the lesson I typically take away from that day is that I really can do it if I set my mind to it. I find my will is stronger the next day, so I’ll make the same deal with myself: One more day, then you can quit.
I’ve gotten through entire years like this.
Now, of course, sometimes you get to tomorrow and you still want to quit. And that’s okay. You can either take it one day at a time, making this same deal with yourself without ever feeling the smothering obligation of a year-long commitment.
Or…you can quit. Sometimes it’s okay to quit. If you find that you really hate what you’re doing, and the goal you set isn’t worth it after all, you don’t have to keep going. Your goals are your own and they should serve you and what you want for your life.
But, at least for today, I recommend that you keep trying for one more day. After all, if you make it through January 18th without quitting, you’ll be doing better than most Americans when it comes to resolutions. Isn’t that worth trying for one more day?
So, tell me how your New Year’s resolutions are coming along. Are you ready to quit? Or are you still going strong? Let me know down in the comments!
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