31 December is an appropriate day to talk about perseverance. Lots of people make resolutions for at the start of a calendar year. Some are personal and others are career related. Few are achieved. Ten years ago, a University of Bristol study looked at 3000 people who had made resolutions, discovering that 88% of them failed. A survey from 2015 found that only 8% succeeded. Common reasons for failure include unrealistic ambitions or expectations. Someone wanting to lose weight, the most popular resolution, may not be able to drop twenty pounds in the first week. Even if they do it might not impact on their relationships in the way that they anticipate.
Every year I plan what I intend to write in the following twelve months. I list everything and break it down into daily tasks. In 2016 I completed 78% of the plan. There are many variables beyond my control. I cannot predict the challenges of work or family life that must take priority. Nor am I able to legislate for market changes, including new opportunities and closed doors, or time spent revising pieces written in previous years. Yet I am not disappointed, 78% is better than nothing and I deliberately don’t set targets that are dependant on the input of others.
The key to a successful resolution is not only to make it SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) but also to keep going when you fall behind. If you achieve part of what you set out to do, you have improved your starting position.