Steve Edward Farley


Let’s take a look at New Year’s resolutions and how they’re often destined to fail. Who hasn’t set a goal of getting fit to drop it before the summer? Ask a room full of people “Who here has dropped a New Year’s Resolution?” Most would reluctantly raise their hands. Is it human nature? Or, can you manage to keep your New Year’s writing resolution?

An AI-generated image of people raising their hands. Each person gave up on their New Year's writing resolution.
AI generated image of people who gave up on their New Year’s writing resolutions.

Why You Might Give Up on Writing a New Year’s Writing Resolution

January 17th the day when a lot of people give up on their resolutions. Maybe you’ve heard of the cheeky holiday, Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day? On that day people across the world collectively decide to give up on things. Whatever their NYE resolution was they abandon it to instead live a more relaxed life. They replace the stress hanging over their head about a resolution with the guilt of leaving it unfulfilled until that too is eventually forgotten.

Your Goals Can Sabotage a New Year’s Writing Resolution

There’s a common belief that as soon as you have a goal that you should share it widely in order to have it manifest. In some elementary schools, children are told to create a mission statement about what they will learn or accomplish in the year. There’s a belief that increased accountability will improve the likelihood of goal success. However, this is only accurate in certain contexts. Telling a close friend how you will be accountable to complete the task will help, versus just simply sharing the overall goal.

There’s a body of research from Peter Gollwitzer that questions the validity of goal sharing. In fact, it might be antithetical to the success of your goal. Oftentimes sharing a goal will get positive feedback. People praise creating a goal. The incident of that goal’s praise will make people feel like they accomplished their goal. On a subconscious level you’ll wonder, “Why do I need to continue to work on this? I already achieved my goal.” This then creates a powerful detractor from achieving your New Year’s writing resolution.

AI generated image of a man realizing that sharing his New Year's writing resolution could be sabotaging himself.
AI generated image of a man raising his hand.

Additionally, if you get negative or critical feedback too early in the process this can derail you. It seems as if one needs to amend a classic meme. Privately sucking at something is the first step towards being kind of good at something. If you broadly share your goal and get a lot of negative feedback then it can be really hard to stick with it. Even if someone’s feedback or criticism is coming from a good place. Anything negative too early can derail your efforts.

So, How do you Win?

I mean, if you’re here reading this you’re asking the obvious question, “How do I win? How do I beat the human psyche and actually succeed at my goals? How do I actually stick to my New Year’s writing resolution?” That’s a tall ask, friend. However, I can spare you some good advice I once heard. Focus on the process when the end is unknown.

So, instead of setting out a big goal (or posting it for the world to see), try setting an intention to do one small thing every day. An example would be to instead of losing 20 pounds in 2024, start with an intention to stand up more often at work. This can include light aerobics if you want to that day. Nothing to get you sweaty, just something to get the blood pumping. Don’t even announce it to anyone. Just keep it to yourself until you’ve made enough progress that you feel comfortable sharing your process with a friend or mentor.

Instead of, “This’ll be the year I write my novel!” Instead put the idea in your own head to write a line a day. That’s a pretty manageable New Year’s writing resolution. If that’s too much – a word. Even if it isn’t good. You can edit or write more on days when it flows. On days where things don’t flow, finding the resilience to do anything is an important discipline. A tactic I find useful for these blogs is to jot a sentence or two about what I want to write. Then when I have time or focus I come back and fill that in. It may be useful to try it in your own writing. If you’re writing a highly structured story then it can be useful to create a scene outline with these short sentences.

AI for Writing

Of course, another option is to write a draft with AI. When you get stuck, ask the robots what should come next in the story. It might not be the best idea in the world. However, it can be useful for finding motivation and moving forward with your New Year’s writing resolution. Remember AI is a tool. It isn’t a replacement for the human soul. If you do use AI, don’t let it become glorified plagiarism or copyright infringement. Just use it as a way to achieve your goals in 2024.

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