I'm not the biggest fan in the world of New Year's Resolutions.
There, I've said it.
For me, it's way too easy, once you've strayed off the path, to simply say, "Oh well, maybe next year." and be done with it. After all, there's a gleam of glory in defeat. You did try after all. Some folks don't even do that. As an added bonus, you've already got next year's resolution lined up. You're ahead of the game.
Last year, I stopped doing the resolution thing and I started thinking about why I made the resolutions in the first place. It came down to wanting to improve myself and, at the end of it all, I came up with three questions that I asked myself and then made a single decision around the answers (You can find them all right here).
The long and the short of it is that I came up with was a series of goals last year. I'm still working on them and that's one of the reasons why goals are much better (and much more work) than resolutions. Here are a few more:
Goals focus on the positive. I've known folks (and I've been guilty of this myself) that wake up New Years Day with a checklist of everything that they don't like about themselves and they go over that list in excruciating detail, saying "I've got to change this and I've got to change that, so I will resolve to never..."
That's a bad way to begin a new "Anything" let alone a new year.
Goals are all about what you want. They look ahead. The hard part comes when you discover that the work involved in getting what you want means that you might not have any more room in your life for stuff that would be on a "Resolution" list, like whatever it was that you did last night that ended with you waking up half under your bed wearing swim fins and somebody else's pants.
A goal is something that you work on over time. They don't happen overnight. There might be simple, easily attainable steps involved with reaching your goal--there probably will be--but chasing a goal is a long-haul thing and the only way to get there is by hauling yourself there.
A goal is always there until you reach it. You may try to impose a time limit on yourself, but even if you don't reach your goal in that time frame, the great thing is that you're closer to your goal than when you started.
Reaching your goal will often show you another goal. You don't make it to the top of the hill unchanged and, when you get there, who knows what you'll see up there.
Here are a few of my goals this year:
My goal is to write more. Yes, I don't think I've ever met a writer that told me "I think I've written enough" so why is this a goal? Well there's always room to improve, isn't there?
My goal is to read more. I put away 68 books last year. That's better than one a week and, still, my To Be Read shelf is groaning under the weight. Not that I have a problem with that (Sorry TBR-shelf). The focus here is on honing my critical reading skills. Learning what works for me and what doesn't and understanding why stuff either works or not. The only way I can do that is by reading. The payoff? What works will make it into my own work and I'll be able to see what isn't working when it's in my own work before any of you do.
My goal is to find a balance with it all. Work, writing, family, myself. It's all got to fit in there and it's way too easy to let something important slide in favor of other, lesser, things.
My goal is to keep track of how much I'm writing. For starters, I can't write "More" if I don't know what my "Average" is. This year I want to keep better track of words written so that I know what I've done at the end of the year. I'm including the Blog here in those numbers as well as any short stories, novellas, etc.
And from last year, you ask?
I did manage to read 68 books last year. Not too shabby, and...
One of my goals from last year was to finish the first draft of my first book and I DID IT!!! I had a lot of unexpected time on my hands at the end of the year and I finished it up just before Christmas.
Right now, I'm calling it "The Flight of the Kestrel" but I can already feel that the title doesn't fit quite right. I expect that when I start editing, a better name will come to me. When it does, I'll put it here...and everywhere else I can manage.
What about you? What are your goals and your plans for getting there?