I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. The first week of January, the gyms are full, the parks are crowded with joggers, and the self-help section of the book store is buzzing with activity. Resolutions tend to last about a month before they fade into the past and are forgotten.
On the other hand, I love goals, and I always spend the last few days of every year thinking about my goals for the next year.
Is there really a difference between goals and resolutions? Of course, every person is different, but for me a resolution is a big, vague idea. “I’m going to get healthier.” “I’m going to get published.” A goal, on the other hand, is smaller and has a clear path to achieving it.
I like the idea of SMART goals. Sure, it sounds corporate. In fact, I learned about SMART goals at my corporate day job. But SMART goals really work.
SMART is an acronym:
- S – Specific A specific goal is one that is clearly defined so you know exactly where you want to end up. A vague goal makes if difficult to know what success is. This is the time to ask those Who, What, When, Where, How questions.
- M – Measurable How will you know if you’ve achieved a goal if you don’t have a way to measure your success?
- A – Attainable This is probably one of the most critical aspects of setting goals, and the question I like to ask myself is this: “Do I control the success or failure of the goal or is that control in the hands of someone else?” It does no good to say, “In 2017, I will publish my novel.” Assuming you’re not self-publishing, the success or failure of this kind of goal is out of your hands. You have no way to attain this on your own, no control over your own success or failure. A better way to approach this would be, “In 2017, I will submit my novel manuscript to [a certain number of] agents.” This way, you retain control over your own success or failure. You’re still driving toward the dream, but you’re doing so in an attainable way.
- R – Realistic You can’t climb Mt. Kilimanjaro if you don’t have a way to get to Tanzania. Need I say more?
- T – Timely – Goals are easier to achieve if you set a clear deadline. This gives you something to work toward.
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my goals for 2017. I want to read more, continue the professional author career track, and, of course, keep on writing, writing, writing. But those are vague resolutions. Here’s how I’m breaking this out into goals:
Complete the STL Writer’s Meet-Up Writers of the Future V. 34 Challenge
My fellow published finalist and friend, David VonAllmen, challenged our local writer’s group to write and submit a story for every quarter of this year’s Writers of the Future contest. In order to achieve this, I will write 3 short stories (Q1 ended Dec 31, 2016), revise them, and submit them to the contest during the appropriate submission windows.
Read One New Release Book Each Month starting in April
There are tons of great books coming out this year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them! I intend to focus this particular set of books on women, LGBT authors, and people of color. I’m pushing the timing of this out to April because of the reading I need to do to prepare for the Writers of the Future workshop in late March.
Read 50 Books in 2017
This will be a big stretch for me. I’ve got two small children to chase, a day job, writing, and tons of other stuff to do, but good writers are, above all, good readers, so this is important. I’ll be tracking some of this on Good Reads, but I am counting the books I beta read for writing colleagues.
Stay Up-to-Date with Season 12 of the Writing Excuses Podcast
If you’re a writer and you’re not listening to Writing Excuses, you’ve got to start! It’s a fantastic podcast hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. I listen to it sporadically, but this year, I want to dig in and listen to the entire season. Season 12 is going to be all about structure, so it will be particularly helpful. It airs every Sunday, so definitely check it out.
Of course, I will continue writing every day as I have for the past two years. I’ve also got a few health-related goals and my Top Secret Project that I’m working on, so 2017 is shaping up to be a year of doing big things. I’m playing around with tracking my goals on myWriteClub.com. It’s a site that is still in beta, but it promises some pretty cool features for writing and goal tracking. It might be worth checking out if you’re interested in that sort of thing. It’s pretty basic and simple, but for me, simple works best and is less distracting.
What goals have you created for 2017 and how do you plan to achieve them?