Here we are. Two weeks into the New Year. How’s it going? According to statisticbrain.com, only 68.4% of resolutions make it to the end of week two. And the percentage of people who report success in achieving their resolutions? A whopping 9.2%.
Like soaring over a lovely green meadow, our goals and resolutions are colorful, pristine and doable when we’re flying at a bird’s eye view. But it looks a whole lot different when we’re in the trenches doing the work. There’s a lot of mud.
So two weeks in, when one third of all people have given up on their goals for the year, let’s talk about some basic tools to keep us on track in 2017.
CHALLENGING BUT DOABLE GOALS
How do your annual goals look and feel now that you’ve launched the new year? Even the most thoughtful goals are set to challenge us. After all, it wouldn’t be a resolution to improve our craft or elements of our daily lives if we thought we were already perfect. But if you feel your goals are slipping away after a mere two weeks, it might be time to regroup and revise. It’s better to adjust than to abandon. Check out two of Annie’s goal-setting blogs: (Take Control of Your Goals in the New Year) and (The SMART Key to Your Carrots). Be sure your goals are completely within your control and not relying on divine intervention or other miracles from the publishing industry!
Staying on track is tough work. Daily life can derail the best intentions. Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from routine! I’ve come off a very busy and highly disruptive ten weeks, but I realized last week that I had exactly 30 days without any scheduled travel or guests in my home. It presented the perfect starting point for a 30-day challenge to reestablish a routine that I crave and need. As Twyla Tharp insists in her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Live It For Life, creativity is “augmented by routine and habit.” Our routines are repeatable and doable, and we’re far less likely to skip doing important daily tasks that feed our creativity, projects and goals.
Once we have a schedule it’s still difficult to stay on track with our goals if we’re constantly distracted by…well, everything. Phones and computers ding and demand our immediate attention. Laundry piles whisper to us. But, good news! We can shut them out.
My number one go-to tool is the timer on my phone. Over and over, day after day, it is the one thing that picks me up by my plot-straps and gets me back to the page. With a clock ticking, I have permission to focus. And the timer works for everything from plotting to decluttering my workspace to free-writing to help me break through writer’s block. You can also time energy-draining habits such as Twitter, television breaks, or those cute little videos on Facebook that suck up precious time.
For laundry, you just have to shut the door. But for people trying to reach us about anything and everything, here are just a couple of electronic solutions:
- Silence your cell phone during your work time and, even better, tuck it away. At a minimum, you can set it to airplane mode to stop the dings while you’re hard at work.
- Manually turn off the Wi-Fi on your computer, tablet or phone.
- Put a lockout app to use. Some of these apps include, but aren’t limited to, Cold Turkey, SelfControl, and FocusMe.
Research shows habits are formed in 21 days, and the best way to make a change is to hold yourself accountable.
Pens, Stickers and Charts
The easiest trackers of all—red pens, stickers, and the like—can be used to mark daily accomplishments and provide visual satisfaction of having completed your tasks. Good old-fashioned charts have come to my rescue more than a few times as well. I used a chart to track my progress during NaNoWriMo, and I have a 30-day chart for the next few weeks to make sure I’m re-establishing routine. Keep those goals in front of you.
While I prefer the paper method for tracking a streak, Kelly showcased Habit List in December (Make 24 Carrot a Habit - Get the Habit List App). There are several other tracker apps out there in the electronic world, including Twords, Productive, Coach.me, Momentum, and Habatica (which includes tracking your rewards! How cool is that?!).
With appropriate and challenging goals, a conscious commitment to routine and focus, as well as a tracking method, you’ll be able to keep a tight rein on your goals. This year, let’s blow past the 9.2% success rate!