How do you do that? It’s very simple. In order to make something a goal or resolution, that something needs to be three things: within your control, reasonably attainable, and measurable. If it’s one but not the others, it isn’t eligible for “resolution” status. Goals like “I want to be a better person” are not measurable – so there’s no way to say whether you reached them or not (it’s also not within your control – because whether you are a “good person” or not is determined by others as much as by you). It’s a cop-out, in my opinion. A better goal would be, “I want to give one person something they need every month.” That’s both within your control and measurable. And some people would say it makes you a better person. Even if you only have one thing on your resolution list, make sure it meets the criteria above. Otherwise it’s practically meaningless.
In the same vein, if you’re busy or lazy or whatever, and know it’s not probable that you’ll be able or willing to help someone every month, then make it every other month. Or once a quarter. Don’t put your goal out of reach right from the start – make it something you can reasonably accomplish. Set yourself up to win, not to fail!
One last thing – resolutions need to be flexible, just like a book outline. Things will happen throughout the year that may make you want to switch directions, and that’s okay. If at the end of the year you didn’t accomplish everything on your list, that’s not failure – it just means things went differently than you’d planned. Such is life. And we *all* have to roll with that, whether we like it or not. You evaluate why things changed, and then decide where to go from there. That’s all any of use can do.
Thus ends my little pep talk on goals for the year. If you want to know how to set writing goals that are within your reach, read Dean Wesley Smith’s series this week on goals and goal setting for writers (linked yesterday too). It’s excellent, and full of really great advice.
So what are my goals, you ask? Here’s my list. Don’t be daunted by it’s size – all of these items meet the criteria for me of being within my control, reasonably attainable, and measurable.
– 1 flash story per week (challenge coming Monday)– 15 short stories in three genres (5 each), culminating in 3 collections– 1 thriller novella (already in progress)– 1 romantic suspense novel (already in progress)– 1 romantic suspense novella (already in progress)– 1000 words 5 days per week (Sunday and Weds nights off)– Develop a plotting/planning method that won’t kill my interest in stories– Read three craft books– Pick one craft element to focus on for each project during the year.Business– Get a handle on my bookkeeping by January 30th and stay on top of it monthly – this is an absolute must if I want to keep running my own writing business.– Drop plans for alternate formats, bookstore sales, etc. I need to focus on writing, not marketing at this point.– Minimal promotion – blog, twitter, FB & newsletters, occasional guest posts. That’s it.– Cut out services offered to other authors. I’m a writer. My publishing house isn’t intended to be a traditional publisher, it’s main and most important purpose is to publish my own books. Anything else is just extraneous.Personal
– Develop and following new cleaning/household paperwork schedules. I genuinely want a cleaner, more kept up house, and bills paid on time.– Take time out daily for TV/movies/FB games (during/after dinner), and reading (before bed, lunch).– Keep up with the 3x weekly workout habit I’ve established, and keep portion sizes right for my body.– Keep up with my dental-treatment plan…one visit per month until it’s done (or until insurance runs out for the year and I can’t afford out of pocket).– Take better care of my feet & hands, including toenails, cuticles and skin. Develop a schedule for this by Jan. 15th, and follow all year.– Make/use my own homemade moisturizer and makeup remover. It’s better for my skin in a major way, and I’m tired of trying to find the perfect all-natural makeup remover wipe. It really doesn’t take that much time or effort, so there’s no reason not to do that.
That’s it! I have my list in Evernote so I can refer to it anytime, and my publishing schedule “lives” on a virtual sticky note on my desktop, always visible and available for me to cross books off as I publish them. It’s important, I think, to keep goals/resolutions visible, so they don’t just fade off into oblivion when we’re not looking.
Are you making resolutions this year? Why or why not? Do they meet the criteria outlined above?
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