Right now, you’re seeing a lot of blogposts either looking back through 2015 or looking ahead to 2016, and as we close in on the countdown, I wanted to ask you all a favor: Knock it off with the New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s focus on getting shit done. Let’s make commitments for 2016.
Yeah, I think there is a vast difference between making a resolution and a commitment. I think “commitment” personifies itself on how I feel when I pry myself out of bed at O-Dark-Something and start working the elliptical while catching up on Arrow. I made a commitment to myself: I want to be in better shape. When I think “I could get in just a little more sleep…” I remind myself of why I work out. I need to see it through. That’s the power of a commitment.
Soon, at the beginning of 2016, individuals across the country are thinking they too are making commitments. Writerly commitments like “I’m going to write that book…” or “I’m going to read more…” and a few variations on these sentiments. Sure, that’s nice and all, but these aren’t commitments being made. These are resolutions. There’s a difference.
First, let’s look at numbers. Statistics from Statistic Brain spell out the success rate of resolutions on an average. 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions but only 8% of those people actually make those resolutions happen while 24% of these resolutions go unfulfilled, cast aside, or forgotten. There is a lot of speculation around why resolutions fail, but one problem resolutions suffer from is that assumption New Year’s Resolutions are destined to fail. How many times have you heard people say “Yeah, I’ve made this a resolution so I’m bound to fail?” Resolutions are, by design, done before they really begin. For writers, resolutions are bad as they are very easy to slack off and dismiss because they are just resolution. Ho-hum. No big.
Commitments are a different beast all together. Commitments are usually made on your own, between two people, or with a group of people, all dedicated and determined to see a goal to fruition. Commitments can range from your professional life to your personal life to long-term goals in life. They may sound like resolutions, but think about it—do you ever say when making a commitment “Well, yeah, sure, I’ll make this commitment, but I’m expecting to lose interest in about a month or two.”
Try that when you’re on a date or talking with your boss on goals at the day job. See how well that goes over.
Commitments are about hard work, weathering rough patches, and seeing things through. Less impulse, more planning. Does this mean all commitments end in success? No, but unlike resolutions, people involved in commitments—professionally, personally, or both—push harder to see them through. A commitment usually does not end in failure until all resources and options are explored and exhausted. That’s why I prefer making them over resolutions.
Here’s another reason I make commitments, not resolutions—I don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make them.
Making a commitment is akin to making a solemn pledge or a binding promise that will motivate you to seeing a goal to its successful end. Most, not all, of my commitments work out for me. I recognize, though, I work harder, smarter, and more efficiently in making commitments happen.
So instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, make commitments. At any point of the year. You might find 2016 will be the year you get shit done.