Why I Love Setting Year-Long Goals But Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

This is the final update for the year. It’s been a few months since I announced my plan to publish 100 books and, though I wasn’t able to get any out before the end of 2022, I’m on track to publish a monster number of these in the coming calendar year.

I announced my plan to publish 100 books on October 17th, a random day more than three-quarters into 2022.

And that random day ties into today’s post on why I love setting year-long goals but don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

The completionist in me loves starting things on January 1st and sticking through with them until December 31st. In the past I’ve done all sorts of these types of challenges. Walking 3.65 million steps. Getting 365 rejections. Exercising every single day. Flossing my teeth. Writing at least one sentence of a book.

Sometimes I see them through until the end of the year. Sometimes I keep going beyond the end of the year. Sometimes I don’t make it.

Which takes me to New Year’s resolutions. I’m not against them for the common reason (“they always fail”) — they might, they might not. Any goal at any time can fail or succeed.

I don’t set New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like the idea of limiting a commitment to major change to one time per year. I want to be mentally equipped to make a change any day of the year, whether it’s New Year’s Day, my birthday, the first day of spring, Flag Day, the first day of a month, or, yes, a random Monday in mid-October. I don’t want to wait until a new year starts to feel like I’m ready and empowered to change and reboot.

But with year-long goals? I give myself interesting challenges and enjoy the tidy, finite nature of seeing them through from start to finish over a lengthy but sustainable amount of time.

So this year, my year-long challenges are all around this book project (and/or self-improvement work that ties into future books).

  1. I’ve identified six opportunities to reclaim time — somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes each, so up to an hour a day — where I currently look at news/social media/nonsense on my phone. I can use that time to work on six distinct book projects. Those opportunities are:
    • When I’m lying in bed in the morning.
    • When I’m lying in bed at night.
    • Lunch, when I’m eating by myself (which is most weekdays).
    • When I’m walking the dog. I can do at least five to 10 minutes at the start of my twice-daily dog walks on dictation, which is great for breaking fiction stories and getting down first drafts. I usually spend this time listening to podcasts and not many are intellectually enriching.
    • When I’m sitting around waiting, whether it’s for my wife to finish something up before we hang out in the evening, at a doctor’s office, or anything in between.
    • In the bathroom. (Please pardon the scatological nature of this one.)
  2. Running a year-long self-improvement experiment which I’m going to document in a book. I can’t reveal the nature of it here to keep it blind, but it’s the perfect project to contain to and measure via one year.
  3. Working with a different type of accountability than this blog (a coach) to improve every single one of my my health markers over the course of the year. This will feed into the book I’m working on about the value of external accountability.

My favorite part of all these challenges? They barely add any extra work to my day — all of them are places where I’m repurposing my time for the better.

To follow along with my journey to publishing 100 books

If you’re interested in seeing my daily work progress toward my goal of 100 books, I keep a daily log.

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