Today is the first day of the year 5774 in the Jewish calendar. As it’s a holiday, I’m rerunning the post (with a few tweaks) I did last year about having an “extra” day to revisit the year’s goals.
Did you set goals in January for the year 2013? How are you doing? Whether they’re writing related or life related isn’t the point. It’s having a direction, and a way to measure that direction. The key word is measurable. If you don’t know what you’ve done, you can’t know if you’re succeeding. And if your goals are too vague, you’ll get frustrated and abandon them.
So, before you set a vague goal like, “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to finish a book,” look at them more carefully. How can you break them down?
If you’re looking to lose weight, what are your options? You can increase exercise. However, saying, “I’m going to exercise more” won’t cut it. You have to say, “I will go to the gym 3 times a week,” or “I will walk 2 miles four times a week.” You can’t say, “I’ll cut back on calories.” You have to say, “I will eat xxx calories per day,” or “I will have one piece of chocolate” (I’m never going to recommend giving up chocolate.)
For writing goals, finishing a book is kind of like eating an elephant. You look at what a finished book is going to be—my current one was over 100,000 words when I typed ‘the end’—and your first reaction is, “I can never do this.” But the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If your goal is to write 500 words a day, you have something to measure. Know your limits, and set goals you can attain. But don’t make the bar so low that you’re not challenging yourself.
For example, my writing goal is to write 1000 words a day, 6 days a week. Do I meet the goal every day? No. But when I don’t, I’ll ask myself why—is it because of personal challenges? Last year, I was faced with an aging parent and have had to make several trips out to LA to visit. Writing came to an abrupt halt for those trips. Or, is it because I’m researching, or working out a plot problem? That, to me, is still working on the book, but it’s not putting words on the page.
So, even if you’re not one who celebrates this holiday, you can take a moment to reflect on how your own year is going—and there are nearly 4 months left to address any changes you might want to make.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society