How to set goals & commitments that you’ll actually keep.

“Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace.” –Mike Ditka

According to one clinical psychology study — just 8% of us successfully achieve the goals that we set at the beginning of each year.

8% success rate. 92% failure.

That’s pretty grim.

We can do better.

Here are my thoughts on how to create goals & commitments that you’ll actually keep — particularly when it comes to creative projects & writing:

1. Make it sane & humane.

Writing an entire book in one month? Not sane or humane — for most people.

Writing three blog posts, one newsletter and daily tweets, every week, forever & ever? Also not sane or humane — for lots of people.

Writing just ten lines of poetry every Tuesday? OK. That’s doable.

Find the most sane & humane version of your goal.

Think: one room, not the whole hotel.

2. Find a reason to care.

“I want to blog twice a week because I read somewhere that it’s good for marketing, or whatever.”

… is not a particularly compelling reason to care about your goal.

“I want to blog twice a week because thousands of people are grappling with problems that I know how to solve. It’s my responsibility to share what I know. It doesn’t matter if one person is reading my work, or ten, or two thousand. I will operate like the whole world is already listening — and give it my all. Every time.”

OK. THAT’S a good reason to care.

Once you’ve identified your reason to care, write it down. See it & read it often.

Think of it like a wedding band — a daily, visible, tangible reminder of your commitment.

If you don’t see your “reason” right in front of your eyes every day… you’re far more likely to forget it.

3. Mise it out.

My sweetheart, Brandon, works as a professional chef. In the culinary world, there’s a French term — mise en place — which means “putting in place.”

If you’re a cool guy, like Brandon, you say: “Mise it out!” [say it with me: Meez it out!]

Meaning: “Set everything up in an orderly fashion — ingredients, knives, herbs, oils, cutting boards — so that I can get down to business.”

If you want to exercise, daily, mise it out: lay out your running shoes and gym outfit the night before, at the foot of your bed.

If you want to start each morning by writing a letter to someone you love, mise it out: put your paper, pen and stamps right next to your coffee maker.

If you want to finish your novel, mise it out: charge up your computer, queue up your favorite music, get your headphones, block out the time on your calendar and treat it with the same level of seriousness as your best friend’s wedding or an urgent doctor’s appointment. Cannot, must not, will not be canceled.

Here’s a micro-worksheet to pull it all together:

My commitment is: ______________________________.

If I was going to simplify it — and make this commitment more sane & humane — my new commitment would be: ______________________________.

I care about this commitment because: ______________________________.

To ‘mise it out’ and set everything up so that I can succeed, I will: ______________________________.

Start with love. Keep it simple.

You can get this done.