It’s that time of year—the once crowded gym is more spacious, sales for organizational items disappear, blogs don’t get written. In other words, resolutions become painful, unrealized hopes being dragged around. (And all that work hasn’t resulted in any weight loss.) If denial abilities are in top shape, resolutions are even forgotten until the next New Year rolls around. Rather than letting one of my own resolutions fall away, I’m analyzing its failure.
I planned to update this blog every two weeks. That meant I should have posted last Wednesday. So Monday, I wrote. Tuesday, I wrote. Wednesday, I wrote. I started and restarted a blog post to make my Wednesday deadline. Clearly, I failed. So what do I do when resolutions fail?
Step 1: Let Mistakes Go
I have a bad habit of lamenting my failures and using them to flog myself with negative self-talk. The simple failure to post on my blog could easily turn into what a bad writer I am, how I never meet deadlines, and how I let myself and everyone else down. When the little negativity devil really gets hold, she can turn it into being a bad mother, or worse, a waste of molecules. (I’m very mean to myself.) For me, step one isn’t admitting my mistake. I clearly don’t have a problem with that. I admit myself into the ground with it.
In order to move forward, I have to stop living in the past. That’s where the mistake was made, and it will only continue to have a place in the present if I focus on it instead of making a change. In holding onto the mistake, I keep making the mistake. I’ve done that for the past week. I can keep letting this grow, or I can let it go and focus in another direction.
Step 2: Identify The Cause
Next, I want to look at why the goal failed. Failure means something didn’t work. If it didn’t work, doing the same thing again isn’t going to work either. Here are some of the main reasons my goals fail:
- Too ambitious.
- No plan.
- For someone else, not myself. (Sometimes necessary; see 4.)
- Should vs. Want, or lack of passion (Keeping in mind some “shoulds” are necessary steps to get what I want.)
- No accountability or reward.
- Too many goals, leaving this one as roadkill on my trip to greatness.
Each of these could be their own blog post, so I won’t go into detail now. (Maybe these will be future topics to keep me posting regularly.) I will put my failure up against each of these points though.
- Posting every other week is reasonable enough, so I’m not ready to change my expectations.
- I didn’t plan ahead and procrastinated myself into a corner.
- My expectations are my own.
- I want to do this for several reasons.
- Until people start clamoring for blog posts, I am relying on the reward of building a solid platform for my writing career. No blog posts=no platform=potentially no agent.
- I didn’t accomplish much during the past week, so if this goal fell by the roadside, it had lots of company.
Step 3: Make Adjustments
Depending on the results of Step 2, I may need to scrap a goal, break it down into smaller pieces to make it manageable, or inject some passion into it. Something has to change. It helps to look at my goals as experiments. This experiment had one poor result, so I will adjust for a different, hopefully successful result.
For my particular failure, I need a better plan and to work on my procrastination problem. I can’t wait until the Monday before my blog post is due to start writing it. That didn’t work, so I will start earlier. Since I like to use the Pomodoro technique, my new plan will include spending one pom (that’s the term my writing partners and I use) a day until the next blog post is done. This will start the Thursday after I post my blog.
As for the procrastination portion of my failure, that’s something science hasn’t even been able to solve. I’ll do my best and reread Wait But Why’s posts about the Instant Gratification Monkey. Those always help.
Procrastination and perfectionism are peas in a pod. Or maybe perfectionism is the pod in which the procrastination pea makes its home. Regardless, I have to let go of the notion I can make every blog post great. I’ll do the best I can with the time, energy, and abilities I have. I accept that. If something really stinks, I’m sure I’ll hear about it. The Internet is good for that.
Falling down is OK. I will fail again, if not with this then with something else. I will go through my process to decide if the goal is still right for me. If so, I’ll adjust and move on. It’s that or let myself fester in my own self-loathing, and that doesn’t sound like much fun.
How are your experiments (resolutions) going? Make a decision about your own floundering resolutions rather than letting them drag you down or fill you with guilt. If you give my method a try, let me know if it helps.