Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Make a Resolution That Sticks

With 2011 left with only 3 days left, we thought it would be timely for today's post to be about resolutions.

Often we hear of New Year's resolutions in the context of something that will be broken.  We hear about avoiding the gym in January as they'll be overcrowded, but in a month or so they'll be back to normal.  Part of this failure to commit to the New Year's resolutions is that we either tend to set goals either not thinking about what it'll take to get there, or we make a resolution that is too broad.  As we've said time and time again, it's all about specificity and prioritization.

In order to make a resolution sticky, you want to make sure that A) it's something that you honestly believe you can achieve, and B)you have a plan for.  

We always believe that people can do amazing things, but in order for people to achieve greatness, they also have to believe in themselves.  If you'd love to be an artist that works for a movie studio but don't really believe you could get a job at a movie studio, chances are, you're not going to work for a movie studio since you won't make working for a studio your priority. 

Sticking with our example, if you want to land that job at Dreamworks in the new year but fear that you aren't good enough to make it to Dreamworks, your resolutions shouldn't be to land a job there.  Your resolution should be to paint every day, or to do a sketch every morning or every day after you come home from work.  Maybe it's to take a few art classes or to download workshops.  It could also be to go to a counselor, or to read a book on self-confidence every month.  Either way, your focus should be on making a resolution that you can stick with.  Anyone can go to the library and get a book, or spend some time in a bookstore doing intense browsing through art books and magazines.  If you are reading this, chances are you have a pen or pencil to do a drawing daily, even if it's on grocery bags or the inside of envelopes.  Got junk mail or bills in the mail?  Then you've got something to draw on.  

If you have a large art goal as your resolution, think about breaking that large goal down into steps.  Instead of saying "I resolve to make $5,200 this year off selling my new comic," maybe think about saying "I'm going to make $100 per week off my comic sales," or "I'm going to submit my comics to a new comic store every week" or "I'm going to do one event every month that will bring in $434 in comic book sales."  

Figuring out what the actual goals needed to complete a resolution can also be very sobering, so don't be afraid to adjust your resolution.  If you hit your goal early, you can always ramp it up later in the year.  The key is to make sure that it's something that you honestly believe in your heart of hearts that you can do.  

The other part of sticking to a resolution is about making a plan.  Even if your resolution is something that you believe you can do like a resolution to sketch every day, you still need to  make a plan.  By providing yourself with a detailed plan of how you're going to achieve your goal, you'll make it easier to finish it all the way through.  

Even if you don't make a detailed plan, you should still think about your resolution to see if it really fits.  If not, revise your resolution to make sure it does.  Make a resolution to paint every day?  What about when you're flying to that wedding for a weekend?  Are you going to bring your oils on the flight?  Are you going to have time to do them on holidays?  Figure out the rules to your resolution - if you do two drawings a day, can you skip one?  What about seven, do you get to skip a week?  

Our point is not to drag you down with the nitty-gritty, but you do have to think about your resolution to make sure that not only is it feasible, but also easy.  If you only draw once a month and you want to go up to once a day, every day, for a full year (or beyond), is that something that you even have time for?  What are you going to change to make that happen?  

Maybe you could make sure that you go to sleep 15 minutes later to get that last sketch in before you go to bed.  If so, then what about also keeping a sketchbook and a pencil on your bedstand?  If you're only painting once a month, then instead of going for a daily painting, what about making a resolution to paint once a week?  Or if you want that daily thing, what about just making at least one brush stroke per day?  In that case, you want your painting to get set-up where you can easily access it, and you want to make sure that you have your paints and brushes and everything right where you'd need them to be in order to do your daily work.  

Part of making a plan can also involve getting someone to hold you accountable to your resolution.  Have a friend check up with you weekly - every time you miss your mark, you owe them $20.  Sign a contract to make it legally binding.  While this punishment principle might not work for everyone, it is a potential plan you can make if having the hordes nipping at your heels inspires you to get things done.  Alternatively, you could also give your resolution buddy a sum of money, or some rewards in advance, to give you every time they check in and you're on track.  If you need that Pavlonian training, we say go for it.  

So if you're looking to make a resolution (or ten) for 2012, make sure it's something you believe you can do and make sure you have a plan.  Knowledge is power, kids, and now that you know how to make some killer resolutions for next year, what are they going to be?