In both instances, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.

Are you really expecting to run blog every day for the next year? Or twice a week for that matter?

Seems a bit extreme to me.

The Science of New Year’s Resolutions:

Leo Widrich from Buffer wrote a good article earlier this week on the science of New Year’s resolutions. His four suggestions?

  1. Pick only one resolution.
  2. Take baby steps – make it a tiny habit.
  3. Hold yourself accountable for what you want to change: Tell others or write it down.
  4. Focus on the carrot not the stick – positive feedback and rewards increase your chance of success.

I agree with 1 & 2. Few people stick to absolute goals (like quitting smoking cold turkey). You’ve got a much better chance of sticking to one smaller habit change.

I don’t fully agree with his 3rd assertion. There are conflicting studies that suggest telling other people your goals makes you less likely to complete them. I tend to agree, since I’ve experienced this in the past. However, I think writing it down is a much better alternative and makes the goal more real.

Leo’s fourth point is key to me. Building some sort of positive feedback loop is essential to sticking with your goals.

How Do You Apply This To Blogging?

Pick one resolution:

If you’re looking to blog more, there’s only one goal you should be focused on: hitting publish more often.

Take baby steps:

Nobody needs to hear what you think every day. Who do you think you are, Seth Godin?

Start with a realistic goal. Hit publish once a month if you haven’t been blogging at all. Write 5 posts per month if you’ve already been writing 4.

Hold yourself accountable & write it down:

  1. Take out a big sheet of paper.
  2. Write down the one sentence goal.
  3. Tape it up behind your monitor.
  4. Smile every time you look up and know you’ve hit your goal.
  5. Not smiling? Get back to work.

Focus on the carrot not the stick:

What kind of positive feedback loops can you create while blogging? Traffic is the obvious one. Social recognition is another: tweets, Facebook likes, and other social shares can take awhile to build up depending on your starting point, but in the beginning each one can be oh-so-satisfying.

Whatever your poison, learn to relish hitting publish, and learn to love the recognition that comes from having visitors read your content. And don’t forget that coffee is for closers. Give yourself a treat once you’ve hit publish, even if it’s just a cup of coffee.

Forgive Failures:

Expect to fail occasionally. So you missed a post – either add that missed post to next month’s workload, or forgive yourself and move on.

Missed posts are a temporary setback. It only becomes a trend if you continue doing it.

According to a study of 700 New Year’s resolutions by Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor in the UK, “people who failed tended to dwell on the ”bad things” that would happen if they did not achieve their goal.

Better Blogging Resolutions Habits:

One last thing. Try setting SMART Goals, not resolutions. Nobody keeps “resolutions.” You’ve got a fighting chance with SMART goals because they’re more like habits than an abstract resolution.

What does a SMART goal look like for blogging more? Here’s an example:

SMART Blogging Goals

More Goal Psychology Resources:

The psychology world has done quite a bit of studies on goal setting and New Year’s resolutions. Here’s a few other academic resources I found valuable:

Focus on the “Sacred” not the “Powerful”: Big Question: Are New Year’s Resolutions A Good Idea?

Recent research in [the area of goal psychology] by Professor Robert Emmons focuses on personal strivings — various goals a person is trying to achieve in daily life. He has found that those with predominantly POWER-oriented personal strivings, such as “advance my career,” “make more money” or “control my family members,” have relatively lower levels of life well being.

He also discovered that folks with high levels of subjective well being, those who perceive themselves as experiencing lots of positive emotions, list personal strivings centering on the SACRED: “try to spend more time in prayer,” “remember to be grateful for all that God has given me” and “acknowledge the beauty and mystery in my relationships with others.”

Start Now:

University of Maryland Medical Center: Where to Begin: Expert Advice on Maintaining Resolutions

According to Hinda Dubin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and psychiatrist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the key to achieving even your most lofty goals is to get started immediately.

“Action precedes motivation, not the other way around,” said Dr. Dubin. “People often think that they should wait until they are motivated to start doing something good for themselves. They say, ‘I’ll start that diet or fitness program when I’m really well rested and have a lot of energy’. But it doesn’t work that way.”

P.S.  – This blog isn’t a New Year’s resolution. It’s been forming in my head and on my screen for a few months. January 1st just happened to be a convenient day to launch. My New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to build more cairns.