It's the first Monday of 2011 and like everyone else I'm wondering what this new year will bring. The pressure is on to set some lofty goals and hit the road running. We get out that fresh new sheet of paper, open that blank document and...*loud break squeal*... What can I say, I'm a rebel. For years, I religiously set goals and created huge lists of stuff that I thought I should be learning, habits I should break and things that I should complete that year. By about February I had modified my goals and somewhere around May I would finally flush it all down the crapper.
If this sounds foreign to you or you're scratching your head in confusion then stop reading and check out these great sites for inspirational goal setting: Goal Setting For Writers, Setting Effective Writing Goals, Five Steps to Goal Setting, Writer Goals For 2011, Freelance Writers Goals, Meet Your Writing Goals, to name a few.
If, on the other hand, you're feeling comfortable and among friends then stick around for some instructions on setting UN-goals.
Step One: Don't call them goals. Yeah, it's only semantics but for the organizationally challenged it can be a sure-fire end to success. These are target coordinates or directional focus points.
Step Two: Honestly evaluate where you are. This is often a painful exercise but for any real progress, a vital exercise. For example: If you hate the smell and atmosphere of a gym, setting a goal to hit the gym 3-4 times a week is just plain stupid!
Step Three:Reflect on your successes of 2010, not your failures. So many of us head into our new year with huge failure medals weighing us down before we even start the new year. What worked is what we want to focus on. Do more of that.
Step Four: Break it down to small palatable bites. The biggest mistake most of us make when contemplating "goals" is focusing on the beginning and the end. As any writer knows it's the middle of the story that causes the lull, that treading-water-in-army-boots craziness. So... what one thing can you do everyday that will keep you going and pointed in the right direction.
Step Five: Push reset often! The rebellious are easily bored. People like us tend to be random, spontaneous and need to shake things up to keep it interesting. Each month, each week and each day is brand new and can become whatever you decide you want it to be. Sometimes it even requires an hour to hour mentality.
Step Six: Reward often. Celebrate every accomplishment. Create incentives for even the small steps along the way. 1500 word=latte. Five blog posts=chocolate bar. Completed rewrite=new book. You get the idea.
Step Seven: Find a share-the-joy buddy. This isn't just any friend. This is the one that cheers with you, one that gets excited when you're excited and totally gets you.
There are probably more but I think you get the idea... don't set yourself up to fail before you even get out of the gate. We are way too hard on ourselves. Life and writing can be stressful enough without putting the added pressure of arbitrary goals. Any real accomplishments come from lifestyle changes, being a writer is a lifestyle. So...be the writer. How will you "be the writer" today?