"Stage" Your New Year's Resolution
Drag racing is an incredible sensory sport.
You not only see the race, you feel it, hear
it, taste it and smell it. This is especially
true when the most powerful cars - those burning
nitromethane rather than gasoline - prepare
for their runs.
Drag racers prepare for their quarter-mile
runs by staging burn-outs at the starting
line. Revving their engines and spinning their
tires, they put on a spectacular show for
their fans, but the smoke, noise and vibration
have a practical purpose too. It gives the
crews a last chance to make sure that everything
is connected and responding properly, and
just as importantly, that the tires have enough
traction - stick - to transform torque into
speed. If a dragster attempted his run with
cold tires that hadn't been heated by spinning
at the starting line, his tires would slip
when he jammed on the accelerator, and his
opponent would leave him in the dust.
A similar thing often happens with New Year's
resolutions. We come to the starting line
with cold tires, jam on the accelerator, and
our best intentions get us nowhere. We create
a lot of noise and smoke, but we don't reach
our goals, because we didn't properly prepare
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
Research shows that, though nearly half of
us set New Year's resolutions, only 8-12%
Reasons for failure are many. Some people
have yet to develop the discipline to stick
to a goal. Yet others set unrealistic goals,
while still others set proper goals, but fail
to plan properly for their execution.
I believe that many fail, because they get
discouraged when they sense failure and recognize
that as the beginning of the end of yet another
resolution. After all, most of us fail most
of the time when attempting a resolution.
If this happens to us every year, we have
to do something different to give ourselves
a better chance of success.
This year, consider starting your New Year's
resolution in the last month or so of the
year. Think of it as heating your tires before
officially arriving at the starting line.
When you wake up on New Year's Day, you'll
be more prepared than ever to finally achieve
a New Year's resolution.
As an example, consider what is likely the
most common resolution set at the beginning
of the year, losing weight. Instead of waiting,
like most people do until they're bloated
from overeating during the holidays, start
your diet on Thanksgiving Day. Sure, dieting
during the holidays isn't easy, but if you
are to achieve your goal by December 31 of
the next year, you are going to have to learn
to moderate intake during that time anyway.
Imagine the confidence you'll gain if you
prove to yourself that you can diet during
the holidays. January and February will fly
by, and when the holidays roll around at the
end of the next year, you will know how to
Of course, many of us will fail early during
the resolution period. Get that out of the
way in the last few weeks of the year. Think
of it like the drag racer staging before he
inches up to the starting line. It's far better
to discover a lose cable in the moments before
the race than after the green flag drops.
My resolution for 2014 is to write more consistently,
at least one page per day. It's not all that
hard when I have a nice quiet day in the office
and write consistently over the weekend. Unfortunately,
I rarely have a nice quiet day in the office,
and writing rarely wiggles into my weekend.
To get seven pages per week, I have to track
my pace and plan accordingly.
Because I want to start 2014 on pace and
with a plan, I started working on the resolution
during the last two weeks of October. I created
a spreadsheet with an inventory of the writing
projects I have underway. On each line is
also the page count and date of the last time
I spent time working on the project. The spreadsheet
keeps an automatic tally of my output each
time I update the day's work.
I am not on the page-per-day pace yet, but
I'm a lot closer than I was a few weeks ago,
and I'm completing projects more quickly,
because I'm organized and my pace is improving.
When January 1 rolls around, I will have positioned
myself for success. Will you?
-- Mitch Arnold