How New Day’s Resolutions Can Help You Accomplish and Organize Your Goals

Coffee mug on planner
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash


Well, the first month of the year is already gone. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Not so great? Me neither. In fact, I didn’t even make any. But I never make New Year’s resolutions.

I prefer New Day’s resolutions.

New Day’s resolutions consist of tasks, actions, activities and goals that I expect to achieve just for today. If I can make it through this new day succeeding at the goals that I have planned for myself, I consider it a win.

Then I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Some of my New Day’s resolutions are the same every day: Drinking a glass of water before having my coffee. Taking a walk. Reading for at least an hour. Feeding the sourdough starter. Making the bed.

These are arguably minor daily goals, and I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t manage them. But that’s the beauty of New Day’s resolutions. You have another chance tomorrow.

Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

New Day’s resolutions can and should also include more important or bigger goals as well. They may not look exactly like the previous ones, but they are those activities that move you toward a larger goal: Doing something for your new business. Writing a page of your book. Plan these ahead of time.

For example, each night before bed, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary writes three tasks on a sticky-note that he says he must accomplish the next morning before anyone else wakes up. This seemingly insignificant action of writing his plans down can greatly increase productivity.

Author and psychologist Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit, describes a hierarchy of goals. The top-level goal is achieved by accomplishing mid- and low-level goals; they’re a means to an end so to speak.

Perhaps your top-level goal is to start a small business. Your mid-level goals would include writing a business plan, registering your business with the government and IRS, purchasing insurance, setting up financial accounts and creating a website. Minor goals and tasks can then be planned to accomplish those mid-level goals. Seemingly trivial tasks like making the bed each day can contribute to your top level goal because it increases your productivity and motivation.

So, each night before bed, write down three assignments that you will accomplish the following day that will move you toward that top level goal of starting the business.

If low- and mid-level goals aren’t aiming you toward your top-level goal, it may be time to re-evaluate them.

I find it helpful to use a diagram of a hierarchy of goals to see which goals are supporting other goals. It also makes it easier to see those goals that may not be contributing to your top-level one.

Goal hierarchy
Angela Duckworth’s Hierarchy of Goals

Maybe your top-level goal is to start a successful blog. Your mid-level goals could include writing 1000 words on one day, and editing and publishing those words the following day. Rinse and repeat.

Low-level goals to support those mid-level ones could include the ones I previously mentioned in addition to perhaps waking at an earlier hour or consuming a healthier diet.

Can you have more than one top-level goal? Yes, but don’t spread yourself too thin. A top-level goal in your professional life and one for your personal/family life are usually sufficient.

Can your top-level goal change? Of course. Finding one’s passion can take a lifetime and passions and interests change over time. But many folks give up too easily, too soon. The most successful people, as described in Grit, are those that can sustain their passion over a long period of time.

I find it much easier to stick with New Day’s resolutions than New Year’s resolutions. Many people give up after breaking the New Year’s ones. They feel guilty and feel like it’s not worth it to start again.

But by creating goals for each day, you can create a new sense of accomplishment each day. Will you screw up? Of course, we all do. But each day is a new opportunity to get back on the wagon. 

I highly recommend Kevin O’Leary’s productivity trick and Angela Duckworth’s goal hierarchy chart. Try them out and watch your productivity skyrocket.

What are your favorite productivity tips?

Should You Share Your Crap Writing?

The answer may surprise you.

All writers write junk at some point. Those of us who are beginners will probably write more crap than the more seasoned writers. Obviously, because practice makes progress. (Not perfection.)

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. -Margaret Atwood

But what about sharing our less-than-stellar pieces of prose or poetry? Do we keep it to ourselves, in a private little virtual folder on our laptop or inside a locked journal? Or do we share with a select few, some trusted friends and family? 

Or, do we throw caution to the wind, and — after we feel we’ve done our best — go ahead and publish what we may feel is not our top work?

While there are pros and cons to exposing our perceived sub-standard creations, I think that, especially as beginners, it’s important to share our crappy writing because of the following reasons:

It will help you ditch the fear.

The first time I hit the publish button both here and on my blog, my body physically reacted. My heart raced, hives-like itching covered my body, and I became light-headed and dizzy. You would have thought my poor introverted self was getting ready to give a public speech to a crowd of thousands of people.

And I suppose in a way, I was. (But of course, just starting out, my audience was tremendously smaller.) It’s terrifying putting your creative self out there for the world to judge and criticize.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I hit the Publish. Guess what happened then? Nothing. No one laughed at my writing (to my face anyway). I didn’t have a mental breakdown. And the world kept spinning on its axis.

So I wrote again. And I hit Publish again. And I had the same symptoms, but to a lesser degree this time. And each following time, the fear lessened, and now I’m pretty good about not passing out cold.

It will build your confidence.

When you realize the world isn’t going to explode every time you share your writing, you become a little more confident that it will stay whole the next time you do it too.

The more you write, whether on Medium, your blog, or other public platform, the more people will see your work. And the more views you get, the more feedback you’ll receive. Most of it will be positive feedback. (Ignore the haters.) You can take that positive feedback and use it to build your confidence. As your confidence increases, the more you’ll be able to write and the more comfortable you’ll become in sharing more of your writing. A pretty nice cycle, right?

You’ll figure out what works (and what doesn’t).

This may be the most important reason. If you’re writing for an audience, you’ll quickly figure out what topics appeal to your readers. Write more about those. You’ll also find out which topics your readers couldn’t care less about. Write about those less.

Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

(If you’re writing for yourself though, write about whatever you want. You are perfectly allowed publicly share and publish pieces that you’re creating for yourself if you choose.)

Furthermore, it can help you find and develop your writing voice. When I first started writing, it was in a way that didn’t really reflect the way I thought and spoke. And it felt forced. I thought it sounded good, but my readers could tell that it wasn’t me.

You’ll figure out your voice the more you write. You’ll realize it doesn’t work to force it. I’ve found that it’s generally better to write how you speak, then go back during editing and correct spelling and grammar errors. 

Of course, there are valid arguments against publicly sharing our crap writing. You’ll screw some stuff up. We all do it. 

And once your writing is out there, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will stay out there. But on sites like Medium and a blog, there’s that all-important Edit button. It wouldn’t be there if it were never meant to be used.

And I think the pros of sharing your weaker creations outweigh the cons. Losing the fear of writing, finding your voice, and building your confidence are the best advantages.

Just remember to apply that Edit button as needed.

I’m That Mom

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

I’m that mom.

You know, the one that doesn’t have it all together. I probably forgot to grab my coat on the way out of the house this morning. (It’s 35 degrees out.) I also failed to remember I needed to put gas in the car before dropping the kids off at school this morning; we barely made it on time.

Speaking of cars, there are dirty socks and protein bar wrappers on the floorboard of mine. I’m trying to convince my teen son that the vehicle is not his bedroom. (And who removes his socks in the car anyway?)

I gave up on makeup a long time ago. And high heels. And apparently coats in winter weather. I’m the mom in jeans and a T-shirt or oversize sweatshirt. But hey, I’m comfortable. And I generally remember my tennis shoes on the way out the door.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I can’t do mom groups. I’ve tried. When the kids were little — it seems like an eternity ago — I played with other moms at a local MOPS group. More recently, I joined the board of our school’s PTA.

Neither were for me. And it’s not because I didn’t like the other moms. In both MOPS and the PTA, I enjoyed the company of the other moms. I really did. Several long-term friendships even formed out of those relationships.

But I always felt kind of like the odd one out.

I’m the mom who has no idea what’s going on with current events or politics. I’m lucky (or not, I suppose) I even know who the president is. I’m the mom who’d rather have a discussion about the latest Marvel or Harry Potter movie than about the new behavioral policy the principal just implemented. I’m the mom with the sense of humor of a 13-year old boy, but has to keep it to herself at the risk of being voted off the island.

I’m that mom who will forget your name (but remember your kid’s name) when I see you at a school function (if I’m not skipping it), not because I’m a rude person, but because I’m kind of an airhead (which I’ve totally embraced, by the way).

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

I’m the mom not stressing about how the kids are doing in school. They do fine most of the time. Sometimes they fall of the grading wagon. Big deal. They always hop back on. While everyone else is discussing federal financial aid forms, I’m over here encouraging my kids NOT to go to college because they’re capable of so much more.

My attitude seems to work somehow. The kids are way more motivated than I am.

I’m the mom who sometimes has a difficult time forming mom-friendships. I’ve always said if I didn’t have kids, I wouldn’t have any friends. I meet other moms because of the connections with our kids, but if a friendship forms and sticks, it becomes — at least for me — about, not our kids, but about my mom friend and me.

I’m the mom who, if you decide you’ll stick with me despite my weirdness, may or may not be available for you if you need me. It kind of depends on my laziness level that day. But you’ll get used to it. It doesn’t mean I don’t value you. I just do better with low-maintenance relationships.

But the real reason you’ll stick with me is because I’m funny and will make you laugh. Usually unintentionally.

I’m that mom.

Maybe you are too?

My Favorite Weird Methods for Beating Writer’s Block

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

So you’ve executed all of the suggestions available out there for beating writer’s block: read a thousand books, took a walk (or a nap), removed all distractions, danced to your favorite song, and enjoyed some spicy tacos (wait, just me?).

All of these important activities can keep your writing mind sharp. But, if you’ve gone through all these exercises and your brain is still filled with the fuzzy fluffies, maybe it’s time to sit down and do some actual writing.

I’ve come across some pretty creative writing exercises out there, such as writing a letter to your bestie and describing in excruciating detail every annoying trait about him or her. (Obviously, you don’t want to send it, unless you’re looking for an excuse to end the relationship. Or start a fight. Which might make some good writing material. But I digress.)

I’ve obtained a collection of a few offbeat exercises that I employ when I’m beating my head against the wall for ideas.

Beat Writer's Block Writing

Try these methods to get those creative springs bubbling.

Write Some Fanfiction

Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash

Fanfiction isn’t just for bored middle-aged housewives. If you’ve got a favorite television series, movie, or book (I’ve even seen fanfic written about famous, real folks like sports figures), then this might be the practice for you.

Take the characters from your favorite fandom and create new relationships, settings, and plots that are different from canon (that’s the official material in the fictional universe for all you non-geeks out there).

In this case, there’s no need to come up with brand new characters or settings; just use the already-created characters in your fandom and let your imagination fly. Didn’t like the end of the Harry Potter series? Write an new one! (I always thought Hermione should have ended up with Draco, but whatever.) For added challenge, try keeping your characters in character while they’re placed in entirely new situations.

Please note, if you’re interested in sharing your work on some of the fanfiction sites, keep in mind there may be legal issues involved with using (borrowing, ripping off?) someone else’s created character. I prefer to keep my stories to myself and just apply them as a useful writing exercise, but keep this in mind before sharing publicly.

Create Opposite Characters

Create two characters that are opposites of each other in terms of physical traits, personality, family life, age, etc.

If I have difficulty getting started with this one, I may use a real person that I’m well-acquainted with — a friend or family member — and create my opposite character from him or her. If my friend is an extroverted, easy going, single baby-boomer guy, I’ll invent a character that is a young female introverted wife and mother who stresses about everything (um, I may have just invented myself. Except the young part.).

Once you have your opposite characters, create a situation (real or imagined) where you, in turn, place your character and real person. Let the characters lead you to write how they would react and act differently (or possibly similar in some respects?) in that same situation.

Invent Nonsense Phrases and Words

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

This can be fun. Set a timer for 15 minutes — or whatever time you want — and combine words to create nonsense phrases or sentences. Flaming gloveCreative poochStandard bath onions. They don’t even have to be real words (swillowy and benaptic). Keep putting them down on paper or screen until your timer rings.

Keep track of how many words and phrases you come up with. Each time you do the exercise, try to come up with more than the previous time.

This can be more difficult than it seems. Our brains are so limited by what we we perceive as “real,” that it’s difficult for our imaginations to break out of that. But breaking away from that perception is what the exercise accomplishes. Your words and phrases may or may not be pretty, but it will stretch your brain biceps.

Write a Story About Last Night’s Dream

Ahh, dreams.

Photo by Tyson Dudley on Unsplash

Sometimes I think dreaming is the process of our minds drawing out stories from the Universe that we’re not able to access while we’re awake and distracted with life stuff. These are stories that desire to be told, so don’t ignore them.

If you’re able to remember your dreams, they can be a spark for creativity. If you have weird dreams like I do (I once dreamed about a giant octopus that lived on the roof of my old elementary school — I’m not making this up), they become fuel for something interesting and wonderful.

Maybe you only remember snippets of your dreams. That’s OK. If it helps your memory, keep a dream journal and pen next to your bed to write down your dreams immediately upon waking.

Sell Ice Cubes to an Eskimo

Why not try your hand at a little copywriting? The process of writing advertising for products and services can be a helpful exercise, even if you’re only into writing fiction. The objective is to persuade your “customers” into thinking they desperately need the product/service you’re advertising; that they can’t live without it. The challenge lies in explaining how the product will improve their lives.

You may have a lot of success writing copy for a product you like, but to up the difficulty, try it for a product or service that you despise (ahem, pineapple pizza).

There are plenty of methods to help crumble writer’s block. But to get right down to it, you must write. Writing exercises and prompts can be the WD-40 to get your creative cogs turning, even (and especially) if you don’t ever share them.

By writing without the expectation of publication or sharing with others, it allows our writing to become freer. We can even give ourselves permission to write garbage. ANY writing at all can become the cure for writer’s block.

Please share your favorite writing exercises in the comments!