Saturday, January 5, 2013

Setting Goals: Anyone can do it

Shah Jahan met his goals.
 Setting Goals is Child's Play

Setting a goal (or announcing a resolution) is very easy. All it takes is a whim and a moment’s thought, maybe some time putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard. Even if you spend quite a lot of time thinking about and analyzing what you want to do, it is only the first step and let's face it,  the easiest step. I can set goals and make lists all damned day. (See, I've done it, here.)

Making Dreams a Reality is a lot of Hard Work
Meeting goals, now that is a whole different kettle of fish. This is where I fall down. Perfectionism usually rears its head in this phase, that’s my kryptonite. I have a dream, I create a goal, then I go completely insane and make schedules and lists and plans that very few humans could endure until I’ve strangled any ounce of drive or passion out of whatever it is I’m in pursuit of.

 But, this time is different! Again

Given my above confession, I’m  a little hesitant to make sweeping, bold proclamations, but here goes: This year will be different! Go ahead and picture me pumping my fist triumphantly into the air as I say this. Maybe I’m even wearing a viking helm or something, hair blowing in the wind as I stand on top of a mountain, proclaiming my intentions, grandly for all to hear.

Flexibility, not just for my yoga mat

There is this little thing called flexibility; I’m going to try it. Hell, I’ll even give "realistic" and "sane" a go, too. I don't have a magic formula, but get this: I’m going to expect to struggle and find myself in need of a rethink or revision of my plans. I will look at my goals for the year and  figure out how to meet them, one day at a time. At the end of the month, I’m going to see how I progress and adjust my goals accordingly. See, no failure in 2013 here. I’ve got a plan, and it’s flexible.

January’s Plan to meet Writing Goals:
  • Daily Plan:
    • Improve writing skills - Need to write new words, every day. So, at the very minimum, I will free write in my writing journal (10 minutes timed writing with or without prompt) six days a week. This is my very minimum daily writing goal for January.
    • WiP1 (novel) - To finish the redraft of my first novel by June, I need to write 550 words per day, 6 days per week. I do type and write fast, so in theory, this should be very doable.
  • Weekly Plan:
    • Write 1/ Submit 1 - I have at least 6 completed short stories that I can revise and submit in January. I know where the first story is going. So, there is no reason I can’t submit 2 stories in January. I plan to do it the first two weeks in January, so that the hurdle of hitting “enter” on the keyboard to send off my submission is past, and I start off with a success in January. I may even submit more than 2 stories. I have have to write one 1,000 word story per week for my writing class, which starts next Tuesday, so that should keep me going on producing new short stories. 
      • Need to assemble the submissions folder/binder and get organized.
    • Take a class/workshop - Done! I’ve signed up for the second trimester of a writing class/workshop I started back in September. I’m so glad I did this and wish I had done it earlier. Second trimester starts next week.
    • Critique Group - I’ve joined a few on-line, but I’d like to form one in real life. There is one woman from my writing class with whom I’ve exchanged emails. I will post one story to one of the on-line forums and post one critique - see how it goes.
    • Read books on writing - I have a long list of writing books, and already own half a dozen from said list. I’ve never read any of them. Going to start with “The Making of a Story” by Alice LaPlante. I’ve been on page 165 for over a year. Time to finish this (enjoyable, really) book.
    • Read 52 books -Not a problem. Right now I'm reading "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" by James Tiptree Jr, a compilation of her short stories. Nothing like reading the short stories of a master to intimidate you. 
 For some links to help with goal setting, read here.

How about you? Are your goals just a static list sitting in a file folder on your computer? Do you know how you're going to get there (wherever that may be for you) in 2013? Do you think my plan makes sense?

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  


  1. I think you're taking a very wise approach to this, Jennifer. Your resolutions seem realistic and you've laid out a road map for reaching them. Many people get tripped up by not *really* thinking about what they are resolving to do; they set goals that are both unrealistic and unattainable.

    Flexibility is also important. I suspect a lot of people quit on their resolutions once they fail on one. Rather than shift the goalpost a bit, they trash the goal entirely. Good plans, way to go!

  2. You're so right; sticking to our plans is the hard part. Glad to have you aboard the W1S1 train this year!

  3. I like to make some goals, but also go with the flow. If one project's not working I'll leave it and move on to something else for awhile.

    1. Debbie, that's a good point. I may try that. I've been thinking I would focus on only one project at a time, but I do have two novel projects. (one complete 1st draft and one half-complete first draft).

      Do you find that you still get projects completed, switching back and forth? I guess I'm afraid I'll just drop project A and never go back to it after I get into project B.

  4. Thanks, Jeff! I'm glad to have your opinion because I confess to being one of those people who trashes their unrealistic goal at the first sign of trouble. I'm trying to make this goal setting work for me 2013.

  5. Hi Milo! I'm very much looking forward to W1S1. It has really inspired me.