Once you have your written your no-holds-barred manifesto of how you would live your one precious life if you could do anything you dreamed of, you need to turn it into something more practical in the form of no-fail New Year’s Resolutions, which is just a way to say: name the tasks you need to get you from here to there.

I know that one big reason people famously “fail” at resolutions is that they make so few of them: if you only make three big, overarching resolutions and you stumble over two, then you can wail that you knew you couldn’t do it and making New Year’s resolutions is lame. But what if you made 23 very small, very specific resolutions and kept nine of them? Or seven? Keeping up with seven, tiny resolutions might turn your life around and keep it turning.

No-fail resolutions for a creative life.

Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer by Caspar David Friedrich

While I sincerely hope your burner journal now contains details about your desire to live in an Italian farmhouse and grow your own olives, or be a wildly successful junk journal maker or the next Tim Holtz, let’s start with something universal: the desire to get in shape; to be sexy, fierce, lean, and bold. (I coach goal-setting in my studio and this has never once not been on someone’s list, so there.) Getting In Shape is a big resolution, and one that we blow year after year, by making it so big, so demanding, and so vague that most of us stumble straight out of the gate.

But what if you took that one resolution and broke it down into lots of little ones, steps that could make it happen? Ten, twenty, thirty mini-tasks that you could succeed at before moving onto, and succeeding at the next one?

(Remember, this is not a post on losing weight, it is a post on making no-fail resolutions, so please read these points as examples illustrating how to break down the single, failure-generating Get in Shape into many, success-guaranteeing baby steps.)

  • Find the right pedometer/free walking app. (Did you do this? Then you have succeeded at one of your New Year’s Resolutions. Moving right along….)
  • Use the walking app to clock 1,000 steps a day for a week.
  • Every week, add 1,000 steps to your day until you reach 10,000 steps (ten weeks and you haven’t failed!)
  • Remember to take the stairs.
  • If you like group classes, then research what gyms are in your neighbourhood.
  • Try a sample class at a gym.
  • Join the gym that you enjoy.
  • If you do not like gyms (I hate them) then turn to YouTube where there are hundreds of thousands of work outs: dance, yoga, cardio, weights, without weights, for handicapped, stretching, with music, without music; from five minutes to an hour and a half.
  • Make a list of the kind of exercise you think you might not hate.
  • Take the time to search for exercises such as this on YouTube. (This may take all day just searching and not doing the exercises. That is okay because searching is your resolution. You have succeeded!)
  • Find eight. Try them out. Realise some are not as good as you thought then bookmark the three you like best.
  • Choose a date and a time to begin doing your new exercise routine three days a week (before work, after work, during your lunch hour, on Sunday?)
  • Do one exercise routine. Even if you can’t finish it. Wait another day and try it again. You will be less awkward. Repeat until you can do the whole routine. (One day? Two weeks? Doesn’t matter, you are doing it.)
  • Instead of shopping online, enjoy “shopping” for new routines that you would like to try.
  • Invest in an personalised, online exercise course, such as FitnessBlender who lets you select ability, type, and amount of weeks you want. (They do not pay me. I only know that they are really good, really cheap, and really not scary and that if you commit to an eight-week course you can do it at your pace and not “fail”.)
  • Find a park in your community and take a walk while enjoying the view.

The point is, you are not going for instant results that define you. You are building a bridge to your dream. You are working, you are resolving, to change for life and as such, enjoy the journey. You are creating a trail that will allow you to see that you are getting there.

So what does this have to do with that farmhouse in Italy? With selling your art work? With starting your own art business? It’s the same really. Break down this big, scary thing into the smallest imaginable tasks, then baby step yourself through them. For me, getting to living a life as a paid artist took about 4,500 steps over several years: a lot of homework and research, a lot of creating in a vacuum with no audience, a lot of making mistakes and a lot of learning from them, and using all of that to allow the journey to evolve.

Last pep-talk. If you try all this and you only succeed in four steps, you have succeeded in keeping four resolutions closer to your goal and your dreams and that, my friends, is four steps closer than most people ever get. And that is all it takes. To change the course of your life. I know it isn’t always easy, especially if you have a job, or two, or children whose needs come first. Believe me, I know. But all you have to do is begin. With a cheap notebook. And with your mind made up.

As always, contact me in the comments or by email at kellyboler79@gmail.com with questions or suggestions.

And from the bottom of my heart, Happy New Year, and Happy Pursuit of Your Wild, Creative Life.