Remember that week between Christmas and New Year’s? Loaded down with gifts, parties and sweets, you were looking forward to getting back into the normal swing of things. Thus, you made a New Year’s resolution (or maybe two or three).
The question is, did you keep it?
The statistics for New Year’s resolutions are pretty grim. According to Statistic Brain, of the 45% of Americans who typically make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in keeping them. A larger group of 49% have infrequent success.
I fall into that 49%. At the beginning of 2016, my resolution was to spend 3 hours per week writing. I’m not talking about the writing I do at work—as a magazine editor, I spend plenty of time writing and editing during the day. But when you write for a living, it’s hard to come home and write some more. So like many resolution makers, I started out strong, but quickly grew apathetic.
I’ve always been an achiever. Especially in school, I considered anything below an A to be failure. So when it comes to keeping resolutions and goals, my natural response is to either excel or fail—there’s nothing in between, no gray area.
That way of thinking just isn’t realistic. There’s always a gray area, a compromise between doing something to perfection and not doing it at all. This is true for any goal or resolution, whether it’s losing weight, getting good grades or spending time with family.
In my own struggle to stay in the 49% this year, I’ve come to realize that it’s in this struggle that I grow. No, I haven’t spent 3 hours each week working on my writing, but in the last month, I’ve spent about 2 hours per week working on it. That’s 8 hours more than if I hadn’t made the goal, or struggled to keep it.
I’m learning that part of the resolution isn’t just achieving the end result. If you’re running a marathon, yes, you want to reach the finish line, but you have to run that 26.2 miles to get there. Riding in the support van doesn’t count. The discipline of achieving a goal or maintaining a good habit isn’t easy, but that’s why it’s called discipline.
So if you’re trying to reach a goal or keep a resolution this year, don’t just zero in on the finish line. Look around, and even when you stumble, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come.
Question: Did you make a New Year’s resolution for 2016? How’s it going? Post a comment!