Goals?!?

NewYearDayIt’s that time of year where we set goals to¬†make up for the mistakes we made the previous year grow as people. Isn’t that really what New Year’s resolutions are all about? Giving up some of those vices (like eating too much chocolate) for better health or starting down a path toward a dream we’ve held maybe too privately close because speaking it out load would actually mean we would need to do something about it.

Hmm . . .

I have to confess . . . I do make New Year’s resolutions every year. I can’t say that I’m all that good working on them but I still try. Maybe less than doing a New Year’s resolution, I believe in goal setting. I think it keeps us active in this life to be shooting for something . . . whatever it might be in your world. But I’ve learned some things along the way about setting goals that might help you achieve your goal(s) this coming year.

1. Have an overall dream (I’m going to finish my novel!) but then set smaller goals along the path.

For YEARS, I said I was going to finish my book but until I sat down and divided up that elephant into smaller achievable steps, it didn’t happen. What would get you there? Sometimes it’s hard to know HOW to actually do the work of finishing a novel so here’s what I’ve found and I’m not a super-speedy novelist.

Writing 1,000 words a day (when I’m not doing a 12 hour nursing shift) is fairly easy. Writing 2,000 words a day is my general maximum before my brain starts to meltdown. This word count should happen in about three hours (if you stay off social media and generally know what you’re going to write about.) Aim to write 20,000 words/month. Really, that’s just 10 days staying completely on task and getting 2,000 words on the page. Four months of JUST doing 10 days of 2,000 word counts and you have a first draft! Don’t edit yourself. Just get the words on the page. You can’t edit an empty page. And now you have an 80,000 word NYT Bestseller document that will need a lot of work–but you DID IT!

2. Make the goal realistic for you and your life.

I’ve been working out with a personal trainer for a couple of years. I needed to lose some weight (a lot!) and knew I needed the accountability of another person to help me do it. I am almost to my goal and my trainer would like a much faster process than me. He set a CRAZY weight loss goal for December (hello, Christmas cookies) and in my mind I said, it’s not going to happen. And so, it didn’t happen. I did, though, achieve the smaller goal I set for myself. If what I outlined above makes your eyeballs glaze over, cut it in half or one quarter but just get started.

3. Have an accountability person.

It really does help. I’m not talking about a critique partner though those are good, too. What you need is just someone in your corner (thanks, Casey!) who will keep tabs on you and your goal. Send you an e-mail to ask if you’re making progress. Celebrate your victories by posting lots of these (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) on Facebook.

4. Don’t give up.

I was a person who used to give up easily. If I ate bad one day, the whole month could be shot. Everyone has bad days and doesn’t meet their goals. My trainer confessed to me just today about eating handfuls of chocolate covered raisins, pizza AND french fries which made me a little too joyful inside BUT he’s already back in the gym. When you fall off the path . . . the next day . . . sit back down and get back to it. Life happens but don’t let it run you over.

5. CELEBRATE!

As you’re traveling down whatever goal path you’ve set for 2013, celebrate the small achievements (making that monthly word count goal) and the big achievement (Yes, I DID finish that novel!) with lots of chocolate and responsible drinking exercise and then do it again.

Set another goal.

So, what about you? What’s one goal, writing or otherwise, that you have for 2013? How are you going to achieve it?