Here we are at the beginning of another new year. I’m sure you have dreams for what you’d like to accomplish in the next 12 months. Are you one who sets New Years resolutions? I’m not.
As near as I can tell, resolutions tend to the land in the realm of wishful thinking most of the time. They are vague. I tend to prefer the word goals instead, partly because it forces me to break things down into measurable bites. However, resolutions are great containers from which to pick specific goals.
I’ve sat down close to the turn of each year for the past decade or so and looked at the goals I set for the previous year and determined how I did with them. Then I’ve looked at the year ahead and tried to get an idea of what my priorities are for it.
Your resolution might be to write a novel in 2014.
Great! How will you get there? Break down the parts. Have you written one before? If yes, you’ll have an idea of what steps to take and how long each will take you. If no, may I recommend you sign up for the free course over in the sidebar? It will walk you through the basic steps.
Once you have looked at the steps: planning, plotting, writing, etc, and made a guess as to how long each will take you, map it out over the course of the next year. Perhaps you’ll allow a month for planning and a month for plotting before beginning to write.
Now look at that month of planning and break it down further. Maybe you’ll want to spend a week daydreaming up the core of the story, two weeks doing character development and another week researching setting.
Now break it down even further. What will need to be accomplished each day to meet those goals?
Setting specific goals like this need not be a noose. Instead, consider them solid guidelines to keep you moving forward. These aren’t vague wishes any more, but action steps that will get you to the end result you’re looking for: that of writing a novel.
- What is the difference between resolutions and goals? Which are the most useful? click to tweet
- Hereby resolved: to write a novel in 2014. Will a resolution or goals be more helpful? click to tweet
The same method works for other typical New Years resolutions, like losing weight, quitting smoking, reading more, or spending quality time with our families. In each case, look at the specific action steps you’ll need to do to accomplish your resolutions, and when you need to do them. Write them in your day planner where they will be seen regularly. They have now become goals.
Is this magic? Not at all. But the more often you visit your goals and the more specific you make the action steps, the more likely it is that you will accomplish them.
Of course, sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and everything changes. In that case, re-evaluate, re-prioritize, build new goals, and carry on.
Happy New Year!