Happy New Year!

January 4, 2018

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

~ Mark Victor Hansen

The new year always seems bright and shiny, full of possibility, and I love that about it. My critique group and I often do a ritual with “Flying Wish Paper” (I’ve also seen alternate papers you can use online) to release habits that no longer serve us and/or send out new ideas or habits we want to cultivate. We hope to do it again this year. For now, I want to remind myself of my goal lessons.

“As a Writer” Goal

I attended a goal setting workshop (HIGHLY recommended) two years in a row (2014 and 2015) and found the process to be incredibly powerful. Facilitator Shari Caudron led us through important, soul-searching questions before getting to more concrete goal-setting. This aspect really helped me understand why I was writing and re-focus my writing practice and the projects I choose to work on.

Here’s what I wrote down in the workshop in 2015:

The highest goal for me as a writer is…
One word: TRUTH This is the highest goal I want my young adult novels to achieve. PBs – fun and joy.

Even though I didn’t remember that statement specifically, I clearly took it to heart because that’s what I’ve been doing the last few years—very gratifying.

Goal Lessons

One of the biggest things I’ve learned about goal-setting is to allow for changes in direction. I check in with my goals every couple of months and make adjustments if necessary. For example, last year one of my goals was to create another course for my online school. As the year progressed, I was more focused on events around my new picture book and decided to let that goal go. I didn’t replace it with anything, but I am noting all the things I ended up doing and some good decisions I made to free up time for my own projects.

Another goal-setting lesson I’ve learn is not to get overly-ambitious. Having a lot of goals can be exciting, but it can also create anxiety if I don’t reach those goals. I now set give or less goals and then break those down into even smaller goals. If I’m really ambitious, I attached timelines to each. Again that can be motivating or anxiety-inducing, depending on my state of mind.

My final important lesson is setting goals I have control over. For example, as much as I want to include “Get new YA accepted” as one of my goals, I have no control over what an editor may or may not do, so that’s not an effective goal. My actual goal will be: “Send polished manuscript to my agent.” I have total control over that goal—it’s all on me to finish my rewrite, revisions, and polish. As for timing, I need to get a new version to my critique group, revise again and then get it to my agent. So it’s going to take some time.

Do you set goals and/or resolutions for your writing? If so, do you have strategies for setting those goals?