After a lifetime of listening to others and myself complaining around February one because we failed to go to the gym regularly, stop drinking coffee, or writing at least a page a day of that manuscript that's tugging on our hearts, I have come to the conclusion that New Year's resolutions are the best recipe for setting oneself up for failure. And once we fail, trying again becomes far more difficult.

We look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "I'm too embarrassed to go to the gym now." The aroma of coffee hits us in the face every time we walk into a building, and the urge to buy a cup overpowers us. Or now that thirty-one days of the year are gone, we know we can't write that three hundred and sixty-five page manuscript in a year, and that's really too long to take to write a manuscript anyway, so why bother? We have other, more important writing to get done. The upshot is, we feel bad about ourselves.

So this year, I've found a solution to the New Year's resolution problem.

Goals. Bite-sized goals. Let's not try to eat the entire elephant-in this case, the entire year-in one sitting. Let's set realistic and easily obtainable goals. Small goals. Goals with short-term deadlines.

For example:  I know, if I let nothing distract me, I can write 3,000 words a day. I'm more comfortable with the quality of 2,000 words a day. So when I write 2,200 words I've exceeded my goal and feel great about my accomplishment. This has the effect of making me eager to get to work the next day.

But if I say I'll write 3,000 words a day and only finish 2,000, I go to work the next day feeling like a child who hasn't done her homework heading off to school.

The same goes for things like going to the gym. I know I should be able to get there seven days a week. Five is more realistic. So when I get there six days out of seven, I deserve to feel a little self-satisfied.

If we set ourselves goals that we know we can obtain, then we reach them, we get the boost to the belief in ourselves we need to take the next step up to greater goals and even more satisfying successes.