Jeannie Campbell

Jeannie Campbell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. She is Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit and enjoys working mainly with children and couples. She has a Masters of Divinity in Psychology and Counseling and bachelors degrees in both psychology and journalism. Jeannie started doing character therapy in March of 2009. Her Treatment Tuesdays feature assessments of fictional characters and plot feasibility while her Thursday Therapeutic Thoughts take a psychological topic and make it relevant to writers. She can be found at her blog, The Character Therapist, at, and website at, The Character Therapist, at

To Err is Human: Tips for New Year’s Resolution Success

To start out 2012, I have some bad news. More than one-third of you will break your New Year’s resolution before January 2. One-half of you will break it before the week’s end.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Since January 1 is the magical date to “start over” or “wipe the slate clean,” as opposed to any old day being good enough to make a self-improvement, I have a few suggestions for those of us who engage in making resolutions.

1) Make your goals realistic.

If you’re completely addicted to Starbucks, live/work three blocks from one, have a friend who works there and gives you freebies, have a tower built out of paper cups in your backyard, or any combination of these, your resolution to abstain completely from Starbucks is likely unfeasible. Just sayin’.

2) Don’t always focus on big goals.

Goals don’t always have to consist of the long-range, big-time stuff. The best accomplishments, in fact, could be a series of small, easily achievable goals. But if you only think about the big picture, you could miss this opportunity to triumph!

It’s a great idea to break big goals into smaller ones anyway. That way, you’re not overwhelmed with the idea of having to write a 95,000-word manuscript. You just work your way through individual 1,500-word chapters first.

3) Determine your rewards ahead of time.

What’s the fun of actually accomplishing your goals if there’s no reward? Sure, there’s that inherent, philosophical idea that you did what you set out to do. That might be enough for some of us, but it’s not at all enough for others. Some crave recognition, so maybe you should indicate how far along you are in sticking to your resolution by using one of those NaNoWriMo meters.

Some crave a physical reward, such as absurdly expensive chocolate, e-books, or pedicures (oh, wait . . . this column isn’t supposed to be about me!). Reward yourself for staying true to your goals, and do this on a regular schedule. It might work for some to treat themselves weekly instead of monthly. You know yourself.

4) Don’t wait until January 1, 2013, to jump back on the wagon.

There’s nothing enchanted about January 1. If you don’t meet your goal, just get back to it as soon as you can. Treat an occasional lapse as a temporary setback, not something to throw your hands up, gnash your teeth, and wail about. If you went ten days with no Starbucks but on day eleven couldn’t fight the aroma calling to you in your sleep, then just start back on day twelve.

One coffee in ten days won’t send you to the dark abyss. One is better than ten coffees. The same could be said with getting off your diet, smoking a cigarette, compulsive shopping, or novel writing.

5) Be purposeful in your resolutions.

Don’t just sporadically come up with something you think you’d like to change. Really give it some thought. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, who led a study about failed resolutions, “If you do it on the spur of the moment, it probably doesn’t mean that much to you and you won’t give it your all. Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful because it can rob people of a sense of self control.” Even more so, when we fail at our resolutions, we can often feel even worse about ourselves than we did before we made the resolution, and that’s no place anyone wants to be.

Increase your chance for success.

Now that you know better how to prepare for your resolutions, I thought I’d add some sure-fire ways to increase your chance for success.

Breaking goals down into smaller steps is definitely the number one thing to do. This increases your chance of success to 35 percent (according to Wiseman’s study). If you add the reward system, the success rate goes up. If you add telling your friends, keeping a diary (or blog) of your progress, and focusing on the benefits of succeeding (not focusing on the downside of not succeeding), then your success rate goes up to 50 percent!

So keep these things in mind when making your resolutions!

Here’s wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!


The Character Thrapist