Why NOT to Make a New Year’s Resolution

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions and haven’t for many years.

I figured out long ago what University of Scranton psychology professor John C. Norcross, Ph.D., discovered in the most rigorous study of New Year's resolutions done to date.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work.

Norcross’s study found that 77% of the resolvers made it through a full week. Then 55% stuck with their goals for a month. By June, six months later, only 40% of those who had made a New Year's resolution were still sticking with their goal.

Another statistic reported on the Statistic Brain website is even more disheartening. Only 8% of resolvers actually achieve their goals.

So, I’m suggesting … no, make that urging … you not make a New Year’s resolution.

Instead of a resolution, make a …

Instead, make a plan. And, don’t wait for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to do it. Make that plan right now.

My guess is you’re receiving The Golden Thread because you joined AWAI looking for a career in copywriting. Regardless where you are in your career, right now is the time to make a plan you can accomplish this year to further that journey.

How does this differ from a resolution?

Resolutions are imprecise statements of end goals – for example, to lose weight or to be a “six-figure” copywriter.

But, by its very nature, a plan demands specificity. It requires details on what to do, when to do it, and how you’ll know when you reach that well-defined endpoint.

More than just words – how to plan your plan …

Start by setting aside an hour or so where you won’t be disturbed. You may or may not want to involve your partner or spouse when working out your plan. Exactly how you formulate your plan depends greatly on you and your personality.

However, I recommend the following seven strategies to make your plan more “bulletproof”:

1. Don’t just think it, ink it!

I confess to stealing this subtitle from a Forbes article. But, if you’ve read anything I’ve written about goal setting, you know that writing goals down is a biggie with me. Why?

A Stanford University study found that when people wrote down their goals, it increased the probability of their achieving it by over 70%.

So, your very first step is to get a pencil for the first draft and a pen for the final draft of your plan. As you go through your plan, you’re going to find you need to change things … hence, the pencil.

Your starting point is to dream and …

2. Look one year into the future.

Give careful and considered thought about your one-year goal. Be reasonable here. You might want to write down, “I will be a six-figure copywriter.” But, if you’re just starting The Accelerated Program and have never written one word of direct-marketing copy, this is not a reasonable goal.

So, changing your first unrealistic goal to something like, “I’m going to be a successful copywriter,” is a good first step. But, before you can give any meat to this goal, you’re going to have to understand how achievable it truly is.

You can do this only by invoking our next strategy …

3. Be specific.

As I said, “I’m going to be a successful copywriter” is a good first draft of your year-long goal. But, it’s doomed for failure. Why? It lacks specificity. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to succeed.

Describe your goals specifically in terms of what you’re going to accomplish and when you’re going to accomplish it. This lets you track your progress and measure success. You bring that specificity to two parts of your plan. The first is how you describe your year-long goal.

So, the goal of being a successful copywriter becomes something measurable, as well as achievable. Something like, “By December 31, 2016, I will have three regular clients and two new client inquiries every month.”

The second part of being specific is what really makes your plan achievable. This is when you …

4. Break your year-long goal into manageable chunks.

Take the year-long goal and draft the steps along the way that will get you there. If your one-year goal is to have three full-time clients, you have to decide what specifically you need to do to get you there.

Write these individual steps down with specific dates for accomplishment.

So, if you’re just starting The Accelerated Program, the first step must be to complete it. If you use the Live Companion Series, it’s easily possible to complete this step in 10 weeks. If you don’t use the Live Companion Series, you may decide you need three months.

After deciding on the first step and reasonable timing for accomplishment, decide the second step, and so on. With the goal of having three clients, one of those steps must be to learn about and work on gaining clients.

When you go through this part of your planning, you’re going to be glad you’re using a pencil. You will make changes. Guaranteed.

Having figured out the steps lead you to your year-long goal, you’re almost done with your plan.

Your next step is to design a system to …

5. Chart your progress.

Charting your progress gives you feedback on whether you’re on track or need to revise your plan. Devise a visual way of charting, so you can see how you’re progressing.

Your charting will be doubly effective if you add an essential component of your plan …

6. Build a support group to encourage and direct you.

Find people to hold you accountable for your progress. A great place to find these people is on one of the AWAI forums. Likewise, if there are people or things in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly and set whatever boundaries you know you’ll need up front.

Our final strategy is absolutely crucial …

7. Forgive yourself.

You will have setbacks along the way. Vow that those setbacks will not halt your journey.

When it comes to hitting setbacks, you’re in good company. It happens to everyone. Just don’t let your mishaps, setbacks, and mistakes mean more than they do. Reflect on the lessons they hold and make adjustments accordingly. Then, get back on track right away!

Life rewards those who work at it.

My final words: Have a productive, successful, and peace-filled new year!

P.S. What success have you had with yearly resolutions? What's worked and what hasn't worked for you? Let us know below.

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Published: December 28, 2015

8 Responses to “Why NOT to Make a New Year’s Resolution”

  1. Don't Just Think It, Ink It - beautiful - The best advice for anyone in the writing world. One character at a time and don't hesitate.


  2. Hello Will, Thank you for the tip!
    To be honest with you. I did not get much out of my writing career in 2015.
    I did not get any client.
    I did not get any job as a copywriter.
    one small thing I accomlished was that I just created my own website after finishing Nick'sMoney Making Website program.

    beautytwee dot com

    Shame on me, right!
    I follow your advise. I wrote down a specific plan for 2016. By june 2016, I should have one client.
    I should quit my recent job I should start my copywriting career Happy New Year to you and your dear family jennie


  3. My New Year's resolution is to achieve something for which only a posthumous legacy can determine whether it was successful or not. Otherwise, it might be either too painful or anticlimactic before yet another year is up.

    Hence something BIGGER PICTURE; for POSTERITY's sake -- whence ne'er the moments even need to necessarily meet -- anyway. SchNO'm sayin'?

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  4. Great article, Wil! One of your best.

    An inspiration to me and hopefully to everyone who reads it!



    Guest (Jon Lapidese)

  5. The only time I ever kept a new years resolution was the year I resolved to quit making resolutions.

    Guest (Steve Lee)

  6. I disagree with some of the points made above, specifically with points 2 and 3.
    When someone is advising others, cold and blatant negatives should be refrained. Telling someone they will not become something is a limiting thought of the person writing. How could you possibly earn any respect, when you yourself prohibit others from super succeeding what you are teaching. Lose the negativity. Any goal is attainable.

    Guest (Dimitri Solakofski)

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