Reality Blog: 3 Ways to Conquer New Year’s Resolution Failure Rates

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There was a crash of dog-eared plastic dinosaurs. Empty cardboard boxes crunched flat. The rustle and rattle of a half-full black trash bag. A final stomp-stomp of rubber boots on packed dirt. The hiss of a match being struck.

Then! The glorious whoosh of flames as they engulfed the rusty old burn barrels, a fiery glory matched only by the manic gleam in my mother’s eyes.

As a child who’d inherited my dad’s pack rat trait, but not my mom’s pyromaniac gene, I’d ask her why she did it. And she always gave me the same answer:

“I feel like I just lost 10 pounds! Got anything else I can burn?”

As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the simple wisdom powering my mom’s semi-annual metaphorical weight loss. Every time she burned the baggage, she was purging herself — and our home — of a lot more than physical junk.

Pain, anger, hurt, disappointment, frustration, struggle, and even despair went into our old burn barrels along with the flotsam of our home.

And out of those oily ashes, she drew the power to press forward with her life, to make something work even in the hardest days. Rather than an act of destruction, her fiery faux diet was an act of renewal.

Let’s Take Out the Trash

Happy New Year!

Welcome, Wealthy Web Writers one and all, to January 2021. And a hearty congratulations to all of you for surviving the unprecedented culture shock that was 2020. Now, tis the season for:

  • Fresh starts
  • Big dreams
  • New ideas
  • Impossible dreams
  • Self-improvement
  • And success!

We’ve got 365 brand-new days to make our dreams of the writer’s life come true.

I know, I know, New Year’s goals and resolutions are infamous for their failure rate. As human beings, we all fall down a little (sometimes a lot) on achieving New Year’s goals.

But that’s why I’m making 2021 my biggest goal year yet!

My plan, my dream, my hope is to make enough money to help my parents settle in their forever home by this time next year. And, looking back on all the times I’ve fallen short of achieving my New Year’s resolutions in the past, I’ve identified three major areas that cause the failure.

Problem #1 — Garbage Hoarding

As a pack rat with occasional emotional attachments to gum wrappers, I’ve never managed to develop my mom’s love of house cleaning. But recently I’ve discovered a unique way of bundling up all the emotional garbage I collect and getting rid of it.

I handwrite a brutally honest letter “for my eyes only!” Basically, a “poor, poor me” stream of consciousness.

  • I complain about family and friends.
  • I really complain about all my own faults.
  • I describe all the dreams that didn’t come together.
  • I reflect on all the failures, disappointments, and regrets in my recent life.

Then, I rip the letter into tiny pieces and set fire to all that garbage. And anytime in the next months when I’m tempted to revisit that frustration, or that hurt, I imagine the flames crawling over those words on the page — and remind myself that those feelings don’t exist anymore.

And, just like my mother promised, I always feel lighter, like I’ve lost at least 10 pounds of emotional baggage!

Then, with the garbage out of the way, I can focus on the two other areas that cause me to struggle to achieve my goals.

Problem #2 — Energizer Bunny Syndrome

As a starter — someone who loves to begin a project, but struggles to finish it — I often find myself supercharged by the energy of simply making a goal, especially a New Year’s resolution. The next thing you know, I’m sprinting at getting a year’s worth of work done in a week.

The inevitable result is that my energizer bunny quickly burns out, and I can only limp along for the rest of the year.

So for 2021, my goal is to apply some much-needed discipline to my erratic spurts of energy. Rather than sprinting out of the gate, I’m going to force myself to a maintainable jog. Rather than shooting for my final goal, I’m going to focus on achieving the next steps:

  • Starting a newsletter
  • More social media interaction
  • Client generation

Hopefully, harnessing my energizer bunny will give me what I need to finish a goal with strength!

Problem #3 — Infrequent Renewal

Finally, I’ve got a horrible tendency to fall into “Drudgery Mentality” where I’m just washing and repeating the same cycle of work. I don’t take the time to lift my head, look at where I am, and get excited about the journey.

All throughout the year, there are days with a whiff of New Year’s Day magic on them.

Mondays!

For me, Mondays are the first day of my work week. They bring with them the same promise of renewal and a second chance as New Year’s Day does. The same is true for the first day of a new month, or the first day starting work with a new client.

Wednesday is the day for me to celebrate getting halfway there — it’s all downhill after Wednesday… but in the good way. July is my Wednesday month, and in almost any project there’s a point you can identify as “over the hump.”

Friday is a day to feel so good because it’s complete! Now it’s time to do fun stuff, spend more time living the writer’s life, and maybe burn some garbage. December is my Friday month, and any project’s endpoint is something to celebrate.

2021, Year of the Phoenix

In many Asian cultures, different years are dedicated to different spirit animals that typify great virtues. I hereby propose that we make 2021 the Year of the Phoenix.

Let’s build a nest out of the disappointments, frustrations, and roadblocks from the last year, set it on fire, and rise from the ashes stronger and better than ever, determined to conquer our dreams and achieve new heights of success and freedom.

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to 2021.

Suzanna Fitzgerald

Suzanna Fitzgerald

5 Comments

  • Great advice here. And I LOVED your mother’s story! You painted such a vivid mental picture that I could practically see her standing over the burn barrel, and I could feel her satisfaction when the purging was done. I’m looking forward eagerly to your future blog posts. Well done!

  • I’m printing your sentence about rising from the ashes and posting it where I can see it each morning before I start work. Thanks for the inspiration, Suzanna!

  • Feels like you read my cup of tea!!
    That’s it: you sort of highlighted my challenges:
    1- putting too much on the table for the same meal (gluttony or lack of discipline)?
    2- and of course sailing in life w/out a burn barrel (what a basic mistake)!

    Suzanna,
    I love your amusing use of metaphors that really enliven everything.
    And I celebrate your sweet, swift, subtle transitions, live from Problem #1 to #2.

    Keep sharing your welcome guidance.

  • Wow! Thank you so much for the incredible feedback everyone. You’re really encouraging me to keep going and put 110% into these articles (which are an absolute blast to write, BTW. I think I could get addicted to this.)

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