Thursday, December 14, 2017

Suggestion: Make New Year's Goals, Not Resolutions

Yes, okay, I know we're still dealing with Christmas. It's not New Year's yet! But we're almost halfway through December and you want to be PREPARED, right?? You don't want to face January 1st UNPREPARED WITH RESOLUTIONS.

Except! I don't make resolutions anymore. I really like the idea of it, of starting the year by thinking about what I want to accomplish and what changes I want to make, but the "resolution" concept is somehow both too wishy-washy and too strict. How do you measure success? Is it an absolute thing? Does it mean you have to do whatever it is EVERY DAY? If you miss one day, have you just failed the year and should stop bothering? That's stupid.

Instead, the past few years I've tried to make highly specific, measurable goals. I like plans and concrete steps and well-defined progress. (You're shocked, I know.) And I really like how even if I have a bad week or month or kinda forget about something for a while, I can come back to it later in the year. I don't have to write anything off until the year is pretty much over, at which point I can decide to keep or refine the goal or let it go, if it no longer seems that important.

Obviously, this works better for some kinds of things than others - stuff like healthy eating can be harder to quantify than reading a certain number of books or getting important documents into a fireproof safe or finishing the draft of a novel, all of which have been on my goal list now or in the past. But as a general rule, making goals as concrete and specific as possible has worked well for me. I also try to mix in some fun goals with stuff I HAVE to do - in 2018, for example, I have decided I will finish reading all the Lord Peter novels, in addition to less fun things like cleaning out my storage room.

Oh, two other tips: 1. Make goals that are entirely within your control. For example, lots of people use "get a book published" or "get an agent" but that's not entirely up to you (unless you are self-publishing, in which case, go ahead)! But "Finish and edit a draft" and "Query agents" ARE attainable things that need no outside input. 2. REWARDS. Bribe yourself. It's silly but it works.

Anyone else thinking about this yet? What are your goals for 2018?

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