Before I start, I just want to clarify the following: Although this post was written with New Year's resolutions in mind, it applies to goals in general, so please bear with me.
Every year, January is filled with people on two ends of the same spectrum. There are those who have a million and one things they are "resolved" to do in the new year. Usually it involves losing weight, or publishing that book they never finished, or any of the many other noble resolutions.
Then there are the others. You know, those who are resolved not to set any resolutions, cause hey, they're doomed to fail anyway, aren't they?
Most of them end up not really getting things done that they want to get done. Interestingly, the reason for their failure is identical.
They gave up too soon.
How many people do you know who wanted to give up smoking? They did well for the first few weeks, but the first time they stumble, they give up. Or maybe the second time.
And the non-resolutioners. They're always so happy to tell you they're not setting goals. Oh good. But... isn't that giving up before trying? Because deep down, most of them were devout resolution-setters who met with failure again and again and now just don't bother any more.
In the middle of the spectrum, there are a few people who work differently. They set goals and chase after them with abandon. Once they achieve their goals, they set more and go chasing again. It might not be for everybody. I sort of realized that this way of living makes me quite highly strung. I always have something to do. Somewhere to be. Something that needs to be improved. On the other hand, I VASTLY prefer it to being passive. I've been wondering why we few, we band of brothers (sorry... just HAD to), are able to function in such a high octane situation, so I started listening to when people in this area of the spectrum spoke.
I read and listened to interviews with entrepreneurs and people who changed the world by going after what they wanted. This is what I learnt:
1) Almost none of them fell into success by accident.
2) None of them believe that circumstances are unchangeable.
3) NONE OF THEM SEE FAILURE.
Let me repeat that.
It does not exist. Yes. There are things that didn't work. It might cost a lot of blood, sweat, tears and (let's face it) money. But it's not failure. These things other people see as failed, they see as one possibility for success ruled out.
Then they dust themselves off and start again, using what they've learnt.
They might even change the goal. See point 2 above for the reason why this is okay.
The point is this: When there isn't such a thing as failure, going after big goals aren't that scary. Taking risks aren't all that bad (as long as you're not being stupid). Most importantly: Everything you set out to do becomes that much more possible, because no set-back is going to make you give up.
On the contrary. It will strengthen you. Give you knowledge you didn't have but might need to achieve your goal.
So you wanted to quit smoking but failed when sitting in the smoking section of a restaurant? Start again, and this time, sit in non-smoking. Wanted to lose weight, but refined sugar got you again and again. Don't let sugar into your house. And no, it isn't punishing your loved ones. They can buy their own (crappy) refined sugar as long as they keep it out of your sight.
Get up. Adapt. Keep going.
Failure. Doesn't. Exist.