How to Goal Set for the New YearbyTara_Neale©
It's that time of year again. Time to look back on another year. Evaluate your life and the progress you made this year. Time too to set those elusive goals, New Year's Resolutions, whatever you call them. For me, it is something that I have been doing for most of my adult life. In the past decade or so, it has become almost an obsession. I have read dozens, if not hundreds, of books on the subject.
But as with most people (probably most of you, if you are reading this article, when I look back each year I have managed to achieve less than half of my goals. It is like the old adage that resolutions are usually broken before the end of January. So you might ask, isn't it all just a big waste of time? Why keep doing something if you know it never works?
It does work though. It works because it forces us to look at our lives, those things that we value, those things that we want to achieve and it makes us prioritize them. There is n old saying that applies well, 'Shoot for the stars and you might just reach the moon.' That definitely applies to my goals last year as a writer.
As I began my career as an indie-writer, I had lofty goals. Lofty equals unrealistic. I was going to write and publish a novella each month and three full-length novels. Now it is not that I cannot write that quantity. On an average day, I write about three thousand words. And on my most prolific, I have written over eleven thousand.
The problem with my goal setting was that there is more to my live than simply writing. Other demands upon my time. And that is where most of us go wrong in setting our goals. We fail to see the picture. We focus upon just one thing and neglect all of the other trees around it. I am an indie-writer with three novellas to her credit.
But I am also a full-time mom to a special needs child and that means there are way too many days were I am able to write absolutely nothing. To put things in perspective though, if you look at my goals for that role as mother, I achieved every single one to one degree or another. Even if I did not completely achieve something, I am well on the road to doing so.
That is the first rule of goal setting: Realize that you have many roles and all of them are in conflict for your precious time. So you have to make choices, sometimes hard ones. As you set goals for the new year, decide which areas of your life, what roles, are most important to you.
This second rule, learned from too many years of hard experience, goes against everything I have ever read about goal setting. I have always been told to make things specific, dollar amounts, deadlines, that sort of things. And if you are one of those lucky people, who are either completely single-minded or do not have many things in your life to divide your attention, then that might be the best option for you. But if like me, your life is full of those conflicting demands, then perhaps setting broad objectives for this new year in each of those areas will prove more fruitful. So second rule is to set broad goals/objectives in each area or role.
But that will not work either if you only set goals once a year. If you write down those objectives and then forget about them, allowing the tempests of life to toss and turn you as she will, then you will come no closer to achieving those objectives than you did the strict goals you have written in the past. For this new method to work, you need to re-visit your objectives on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis. This is something that I learned long ago form one of the best authors on the subject, Stephen Covey. It is though more important in terms of making fuzzy objectives into reality.
For instance, for years I have had the goal of finishing Literotica's Survivor contest with one story in each category. Another lofty ambition. This year as I began the process of goal setting for the new year, I realized that as an indie-writer Survivor no longer fit my needs. This would be my final year competing. But what then of that unfulfilled goal? I have trouble just letting some things go, so with less than a month to go in the contest, I decided that if this was going to be my last time competing I was going out with a bang. I was going to fulfill that goal...for me. And assuming that none of my stories are rejected or re-categorized, I did it too.
But I was able to do accomplish it in part because it was a short term goal. I knew that I needed to write twenty-four stories in less than a month. For me, it is easier to deal with life on those short term basis...month by month, week by week and day by day. So rule three is: set monthly goals, then bite and chew those on a weekly and daily basis.
In order to do that though, we need to be reminded of those overall objectives. There are several ways of accomplishing that and how you do it may depend upon your lifestyle. For me the most effective method is a goal wall. This week I will type out my goals and print them in pretty colors on fancy paper. I will mount them and hang them on the walls of my bedroom so that each morning as I wake, I am reminded of the things I want to accomplish. Of course, there are other options: dozens of applications for your computer and smart phones, making books of them, collages or if you are computer savvy enough perhaps even screen savers. Hmm, maybe try as many of these options as you can. The more we are reminded of our goals the less likely we are to forget them.
So what is next for Tara Neale you ask? For me, the indie-writer anyway: My goal is to develop a reasonable backlist and make a decent living as a writer. Pretty fuzzy right? Well, I already have three novellas published so that means I likely need another nine items to qualify as a decent backlist. But whether those nine are novels, novellas or collection of short stories, I can decide based upon the other demands on my time.
Biting off the month of January alone, my goal is to edit and publish my first full length novel, The Arrangement. That would be one down and eight more to go in eleven months. That way I am able to adjust to the demands of my other role as mother and respond better to my readers. So go ahead, email me, bug me, tell me what you want those other eight stories to be this year.