How to Help Make that New Year’s Resolution Stick

A few days before January 1, my son and I couldn’t find the remote control to the nice, big television in Hubs’s Man Cave (which he insists is the Family Room, but that’s his guilt talking). We looked everywhere: between the couch cushions, underneath all the furniture, in the trash can. To no avail.

This is not an unusual situation. Remote controls are constantly misplaced (courtesy of Hubs and Son, Inc.), an annoyance that prompted me to suggest via clenched teeth and tight voice: “Hey, maybe for a New Year’s Resolution, you guys could resolve to put remotes back where they belong.”

From there, a family-style resolution idea was born.

This year, each member of my family has pledged to resolve to work on a particular annoying behavior that has negatively affected the family as a whole.

We all sat down and had to agree on each member’s choice of resolution. For instance, they wouldn’t let me get away with resolving to eat more pizza in my ongoing effort to support pizza-makers nationwide.

No, I had to choose to work on something that has bothered, annoyed, ticked off, or otherwise alienated the rest of the family.

It. Was. Illuminating.

What does this have to do with writing (seeing as how that’s what my blog is supposed to center upon)? Well, every year around this time hundreds of posts pop up from writers “resolving” to write more, get published, finish that book, start that book, find an agent, and all that oo de lally. And then, as the year saunters past, those writing or publishing resolutions don’t get seen through.

Is it because there isn’t anyone else holding them accountable for these goals?

I have learned that we writers need a bit of hand-holding with big-ticket items—things that put our levels of commitment to the test. I’m sure that lack of accountability isn’t the only reason we don’t accomplish some goals, but it’s definitely in the top 10.

So writers, if you’ve resolved to do more with your writing this year, consider finding someone to hold you accountable. You can even reach out to me, if you can’t find the support you need, and I’ll do everything I can to root you on and keep you on track (albeit virtually, but one of my superpowers is virtual ass-kicking).


What is your New Year’s Resolution? Do you have someone holding you accountable? Do you need some virtual ass-kicking compliments of yours truly?

Have a writerly day!!

28 thoughts on “How to Help Make that New Year’s Resolution Stick”

  1. I think you are right, accountability helps so much. This doesn’t have to do with writing or reading, but I decided to do more aerobic exercise this year. I told my family and my personal trainer so that should hold me accountable, let’s see! Hope the remote control stays in its place for you!

    • Exercise is another resolution/goal that would likely require a little pushing or persuading from someone else. When your family knows you want to do these things, and they’re naturally supportive, then I think they would really do their best to make sure you follow through. Not all families are helpful in this way, but it sounds like yours is! Good luck!!

      Now where is that remote . . .?

  2. I don’t do resolutions, but I like the idea of setting goals. I usually keep mine to myself, but I’m a stern taskmaster so I hold myself accountable. I was taught as a child to never say you’re going to do something, instead tell everyone after you’ve done something. So asking for accountability seems weird to me, even though I know rationally that it isn’t. Parents so screw with your mind, don’t they? 😉

    • I consider resolutions and setting goals to be one and the same–if we are so inclined we can make resolutions at any time of year or make New Year’s Goals!

      Our childhood habits and lessons often affect us as we plunder through adulthood, for good or for bad! I can totally see how what you were taught would mean that you are expected to strike at things on your own and talk about it later. 😉

      For me, being an introvert and naturally shy and the “peacekeeper” in my family are all reasons it is very, very hard for me to turn to someone else for accountability. Sometimes I feel like a burden!! I can do it with goals that are group-based or that would affect other people (like trying really hard to keep the family car neat and tidy–what a serious pain!!), but for goals that are personal (such as writing), I don’t often need accountability–much for the same reasons you bring up. I believe enough in that goal to be able to conquer it on my own. 🙂

      • I like how you think about goals/resolutions. It takes the onus off making them and/or breaking them. Smart girl.

        I can see how your place in your family has influenced your need, or not, for accountability. I’m an introvert, too, so I tend to avoid groups like the plague, but have learned that sometimes they help me do better. 😉

        I hadn’t thought of how my own belief in myself keeps me going when it comes to goals. Good point. I forget to give myself credit sometimes…

  3. Both hilarious and helpful to pick an annoying habit to work on as a family…I’m afraid to have that meeting! You are right on, that the accountability piece is key. One of the best things I’ve done is realize (after taking Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz and listening to her podcast nonstop) that I’m an obliger, meaning I that I respond to outer expectations very well. This plays itself out in everything from housework to writing to running/working out. If I have someone holding me accountable (waiting for me at the gym or emailing weekly writing goals.) I will absolutely follow through.

    Good post and nice blog design update!

    The four tendencies quiz if interested:

    • Being an obliger sounds like something I might be, in some ways. If I’m meeting people at the gym, I will absolutely follow through because I don’t want to be a hassle to them by not showing up. It isn’t polite, isn’t fair, that kind of thing. Housework–eh, there’s got to be something in it for me to stay on top of the housework, as I hate it so much! I’ll have to check out that quiz. Sounds very cool!

  4. I’m curious to know if your family’s resolution for you had something to do with your writing, Kate. It’s a good, enlightening exercise…though, I fear if we did it in my house, a forced resolution would be: “Mom has to resolve not to open her computer and start writing when we’re all supposed to be watching a movie.”

    Hell is full of good intentions. Heaven, on the other hand, is populated by good actions. I appreciate the value of having goals and holding myself accountable to them, though that comes through more with my work and family responsibilities than with my writing. I think because my writing is just that: mine alone. Nobody depends on it, nobody even cares about it, so the only urgency to finishing something is self-imposed. On the bright side, I’m one of those people who HAS to finish stuff, whether it’s an editing project, the dishes in the sink, or a short story started.

    I’m not totally a lost cause, though, Kate. You already do a lot to keep me personally motivated. Every post or link from you pushes me to dig deeper, stand taller, and fight my way through, because I know that’s what you’d tell me to do when I’d dare to think about giving up. 🙂

    • Actually, they asked me to get ready for our movie/TV nights faster. I like to get into comfy clothes to settle in for the night, but according to them, I take “forever”! So I have to do it in ten minutes or less. To be truthful, the reason it takes me a long time is I do get sidetracked in my study with whatever I’m writing. 😛 So in effect, their request of me is writing-based, they just don’t know it. What I really need to do is shut down my computer beforehand, so that it doesn’t beckon to me at inopportune moments. I just can’t help it!!

      I had to laugh when I read what your family resolution would be — writing interfering with family time is a common issue with writers. It’s because we can’t turn our creativity on and off at a whim. When our characters start making noise, we respond. We have to, or else we would lose ideas or our momentum.

      Writing is personal, and it starts with the writer, always. If we weren’t so connected to our stories then we wouldn’t be fighting for the time or privilege to write. Whether anyone else cares about our stuff really can’t be part of the equation at the pre-public stage anyway. We have to want it badly enough that we’ll do what it takes to make it happen, bottom-line, whether we have the support or not.

      When it comes time to make the decision on whether to try publishing, then we can worry about if people will even want to read it. Then that’s when opinions and critiques and reviews and comments of others will make a serious impact on us, and would have the power to drive us in either direction: continue or give up.

      As long as you’re following through on your stories because that is what is important to you, then no one else need be involved in terms of the process or the act of writing. Making that transition to publishing (if you choose to make that transition) might be a bit tough for you because of what you’re up against. But then the whole face of the writing process changes anyway, and you’d have to make some accommodations regardless.

      That’s right. Heads will be rolling if I hear you ever talking about gving up! 😉

  5. Miss 4am,

    I have no doubt you’re an ass kicker on all levels, from the virtual to the real. And I dig the support system idea because it’s easy (my experience) to get so wrapped up in the writing process that you forget the bigger picture. If there is a bigger picture to your writing goals, that is.

    And what’s wrong with your pizza resolution? I happen to think it’s a rather noble idea, not to mention totally delicious. Go pizza! And writing! And you Bahstan.

    Peace and love

    • I’m glad I give off the ass-kicking vibe, Cayman. Having a team behind us writers is really important, as anyone who has tried to get a blog up and going can attest to, for example. You’re right, I really should stick up for my pizza resolution. I’m on it.

  6. Well, my year is not off to the start I had hoped it would be! Uber busy with work and that really cuts down on the time I want to spend on the computer afterward. But it can be done, right? Email and Facebook don’t need to be checked as often as they are. “One” game of Sudoku or a jigsaw puzzle shouldn’t become two or three. I enjoy the stories I’m writing, and I should respect them enough to keep at them consistently. So tonight, I will spend some time with “Crossroads” and meet my regular Scrivener session word count. Feel free to check up on me! 😀

    • I love that you use the word “respect” because I believe that’s really what it comes down to. Respect and honor the act of writing, the process, and what you have to do to make your stories happen–whatever that is. Any amount of time you spend on it means it grows that much more. Good luck with your 2017 writing word count goals!!

  7. Virtual ass-kicking sounds like fun! That’s a great idea to get people to hold you accountable – maybe that’s why writing challenges work. I hope you’ve started on our Jan writing challenge! 🙂

    • Having fun with our #30by31 challenge! I didn’t get a chance yet to write today, but I’ll jump on it tonight. I do enjoy challenges like this. I’m competitive with myself, not with other people, so this kind of challenge works perfectly for me! Have a writerly day!!

      • Me too! January is a good month to do it. I thought I’d do a lot over the weekend but then there were too many family things to do so I’m only at 5,468 for now. Keep going and keep those fuzzy socks on!

  8. Love this ass-kicking post Kate. We all need to be accountable in order to have our work come to fruition. Having support is a great help when the juices aren’t flowing, or life is sucking, but as far as my goals for myself, I’m my own biggest ass-kicker to keep my own self accountable. 🙂

    • I’m my own ass-kicker, too! Superwomen Unite! 😉

      I also work well with others if we’re working toward a common goal (NaNoWriMo is an example, or any kind of writing challenge). But I do get bored quickly, so I have to keep my writing goals short and sweet. If I make them too complicated or a year out, forget it, something gets in the way inevitably. Have a writerly day!

  9. I’ve found authors also make the mistake of not setting manageable goals. “Write a book” should be “Write at least 100 words per day,” for instance. It’s important not to set yourself up for failure by making things too difficult. Although I do like your idea for an “eat more pizza” resolution!

    • Yes, specific goals work so much better than general goals!! And yay, so glad I found an ally in my pizza resolution idea. 🙂 Thanks for swinging by and commenting! Have a writerly day!

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