A Late Bloomer Learns How to Make a New Year's Resolution

Recently, author Stephen Shapiro shared some surprising findings on New Year's Resolutions:
It appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions.

39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year.

Less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year.
If you clicked through to read Shapiro's extended findings and you aren't in your 20's, and you saw the statistic that only about 8% of those who make resolutions consistently achieve them--do not give up on a big goal.

Pick up the phone or turn to your partner and enlist their encouragement. You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you share them--and set them in tandem with someone else. This is how Weight Watchers stays in business.

I share this advice with confidence and conviction. I have tried and failed to achieve resolutions in the past, but this year was a watershed moment: I've found personal success using the collaborative approach.

Prior to 2008, I had unfulfilled dreams of writing about careers in a public forum, but I was stuck in an inner battle between my social self and my quiet self. I love to write but the process is--conventionally--a solitary task. I enjoying reading, but I am happiest when I am making connections with others. I found myself talking a lot about writing but not actually doing it. In 2009, I actually did it. Consistently.

I could tell you that my success is a result of a change in my self discipline, or a testament to my drive and motivation. But I can't lie: Like many who achieve their goals later in life, my success is "highly contingent on the efforts of others." In a New Yorker essay exploring economist David Galenson's research on the differences between child prodigies and those who achieve success later in life, Malcolm Gladwell calls this the "final lesson of the late bloomer."

Consider the career of Cezanne. As Gladwell tells it, he was supported by his father for years, had his first show at 56 and once had a friend sit for a portrait over 150 times--before he decided to abandon the painting. (Now that's a friend!)

It was others who helped me put words to paper. First I discovered Twitter, and a new community of interesting people who provide me with ideas on what to write about--and who serve as role models on how to write. I also gained not one, but two new mentors who have consistently encouraged me. I made friends with several other emerging writers and took a short course. I sent drafts to friends and family. I learned to take small steps, to use a formula to break writer's block, and to publish the imperfect.

As I look back on what I've written this year, I am grateful for the support that I've received from my friends and family. They have my gratitude and my thanks, and I appreciate their patience. As Gladwell says, "Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forbearance and blind faith."

If you have a dream that you can't quite give up on--and haven't managed to achieve just yet, find a friend or mentor who will encourage you with blind faith--and challenge you to be accountable for making it happen. Let me know how it turns out...and good luck!

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