We’re at that time of year again. A time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and to consider goals for next year. Now, I’ve never been the type of person to set calendar goals with dates and deadlines. At least not unless it’s a work-required deadline. But I’ve decided it can be a good idea to set personal goals. Goals that I hope to accomplish outside the work environment. Otherwise, those accomplishments can easily be pushed aside by other issues.
At the beginning of this year, I decided that I needed to finish at least one of the novels plus work on some smaller projects. I didn’t want to make the goal too large to accomplish. The novel was already half done, so I figured I could at least finish it. And start submitting it. And in September I placed that novel with a publisher. Though “getting published” wasn’t part of the goal. Just getting to the point where it was a possibility.
For next year, I already know which novel is on the “to be completed” list. There are a couple other projects lined up on the “to work on” list too. There are no dates assigned to these goals. No hard deadlines. But I’ve set the priorities and give myself permission to work on the novels. But I’ve also made these specific and achievable goals. Complete the novel from beginning to end. Not finish all edits and get it published. Just get that complete draft done. I can do that.
But I was surprised in a chat with other writers recently to discover how vague many goals are. Don’t get me wrong. “Be more creative” is a great goal. But a vague goal is too easily moved aside for something else, like watching TV. Because you haven’t given yourself anything to measure progress against. “Complete a novel” means I can celebrate being at chapter twelve or remind myself to write because I haven’t hit chapter fifteen. If I just say “write” I can tell myself — I did write. I wrote that blog post. And I’m sure I worked on something yesterday. Besides I’ll write tomorrow. And at the end of the year, I’ll feel sure I’ve written but I may not have anything to show for it.
So, consider your goals not as things with deadline and check boxes. But as a way to give yourself permission to accomplish something important to you.