How should you set yearly writing goals?

Can you hit your writing goals?Can you hit your writing goals?Can you hit your writing goals?

This is that time of year when everyone talks about what they’ve accomplished and what they want to accomplish. I’ll be honest, to me the whole New Year’s Resolution thing can get a little annoying.

Not that there’s anything wrong with setting goals for the year or reflecting on the prior year, but its that the whole process can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you’re like me, a person with myriad interests – how do you pin down what you want to do over the next 365 days?

Then there’s the difficulty in how to define a “goal”? Is it an accomplishment, like writing a novel? If we set goals according to achieving major accomplishments, then if we don’t succeed, we automatically have failed. Yuck. That doesn’t work. If I write half of a novel, that’s a pretty great accomplishment, but I’m still a failure if I said I would write a whole novel in a year.

The other option is to define a goal as a feeling. In her new book The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte discusses making choices based on how we want to feel.

For example, if we want to feel creative or productive, then we make choices everyday that will lead us to that feeling. Rather than saying, “I will complete a novel” which can lead to feeling like a failure if we don’t do it, we would make choices on wanting to feel creative whether that is writing a poem or painting a picture.

Others espouse choosing a theme word for the year and then asking questions to make sure that all of our activities “fit” into that theme and move us closer to our goals. This strategy goes along with the whole “goals as feelings” idea. I’ve done this, but I tend forget my word by about mid-February and then muddle along like I normally do.

Then there’s the debate over whether you should tell people your goals. Some believe that if you share your goals, so whoever you tell will hold you accountable (but I’m not sure how). I can’t imagine my friends or family actually doing anything painful to me if I don’t finish a book or achieve a writing goal that I’ve shared with them. And would they really be angry at me if I only wrote half a book instead of a whole one? I don’t think so.

The other option is to keep your goals a secret. According to a TED talk titled “Keep your goals to yourself” by Derek Sivers, if you share your goals, you are far less likely to reach them. Apparently, we get encouragement and warm fuzzies just from sharing our goals, so our brain decides it’s already reached the goal, and we actually never do. Bummer!

I think I’ve tried all of these strategies. I’ve set goals I’ve never reached and others I’ve achieved. I’ve chosen theme words, shared goals, and kept them to myself. I’ve broken big goals down into manageable tasks, posted the tasks on calendars with dates how to order wellbutrin online attached (and then ignored the calendars). I feel like I’ve tried all kinds of goal setting strategies. Some have worked, some haven’t.

So what works? Everyone has to find their own goal system.

Here’s mine. Maybe it will work for you, or you can pick and choose some of the above strategies or ways of looking at goals. I have a couple of big overarching goals, but I don’t put a timeline on them as I’ve found that doesn’t work so well for me. Instead, I use them as a guideline to check my progress, and it’s the daily steps I take, my perseverance to achieve these goals/feelings, and the systems that I have in place that mean the most to how I feel about my overall progress.

So here are my goals (yes, I’m sharing). Not so anyone else will hold me accountable, but so I can hold myself accountable.

  • I want to express myself and publish novels.
    • The process I use to achieve these goals are to try to write everyday whether its a blog post, a scene, a lesson plan, or a Quickwrite with my students. Or, I revise something I’ve already written. Or, I might work on a quilt for some creative play time and expression. In any case, I’m fulfilling my need and goal to write and express myself and that feels great!
  • I want to feel healthy and have a body that is physically fit enough to do whatever I feel like doing. If I want to climb a mountain or run five miles, I want to be able to do that.
    • For this goal, I run or walk the dogs. I work in my garden (which also hits the “express myself” goal as I love to plant flowers and play with colors.) I exercise because I feel so much better when I do.
  • I want to do work that I love and that inspires me and others, to create a space in my classroom and online where teens feel safe and supported in their writing and creative endeavors.
    • To achieve this, I work with teens at the High school where I teach and online here. Even though this site is small, even if I get to work with one person, I’m a happy girl.
  • I want to live in close connection with loved ones and spirit.
    • I do this by spending time with my family. I also meditate/pray and journal.

My biggest struggle, everyday, with all of my goals is to get over my fear of failure and judgement. I wish I could say I don’t struggle with those things, but I do.

So there you have it. My goals. I won’t check them off at the end of the year as “done” because they’re goals for how I want to live my life, every single day…

Why forever? Because these goals are what I’m called to do.

What are your goals? Do you have specific goals or are they more “lifestyle” goals like mine? Or does the whole idea of setting writing goals make you crazy? Share in the comments below.]]>

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