Goal-setting in the New Year

For me, January is always a time to reflect on the old year and prepare for the new one. I love this quote from Jim Rohn: "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." That is so true, and great motivation when striving after your goals day by day.

Another thing to keep in mind when setting goals is to be cognizant of all areas of your life. As Coach Wooden said, "The two most important words in the English language are love and balance." With that in mind, I like to break up my goals into different sections: goals for my writing, goals for my nonprofit organization Write On! For Literacy, and general goals for a healthy, balanced life. Here are some examples in each category:

Writing Goals
  • Write 400 words every day.
  • Complete new novel manuscript.
  • Submit to a literary magazine every other week.
  • Write a three-act play.
  • Read at least half an hour every day.
Write On! Goals
  • Send out a newsletter every month.
  • Be a guest speaker at 8 schools/organizations.
  • Create a Write On! DVD.
  • Start a Holiday Book Drive at Purdue.
Healthy Life Goals
  • Exercise three days a week.
  • Learn to cook 10 new healthy recipes.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Do at least one act of kindness every day.
  • Count my blessings every night.
I've heard that the best goals are both measurable and attainable. Instead of saying, "In 2012 I want to write more" set a plan of action of how you will do this. The word "more" is so vague -- how much do you want to write every day? Do you want to measure your writing by time, i.e. one hour every day? Or would you be more motivated by a page or word count? Make sure the goal is attainable -- you don't want to feel defeated or overwhelmed -- but once your goal is set, try to be firm with yourself. Stick to it! Here is a website that I find really helpful and motivating in tracking my progress on my goals: www.joesgoals.com. Even after a long day, I'll put in the work to get that little green check-mark! :)

Something I am trying for the first time this year is breaking down my year-long goals into month-by-month goals. It helps me get a handle on more daunting projects by planning out how I want to move forward month by month. For example, one of my writing goals is to finish the current novel manuscript I am working on. I have a goal of writing a certain number of pages every month.

I am also a believer in daily to-do lists -- it feels so good to cross things off my list! -- but I think month-by-month goals are more flexible for those inevitable times when life gets crazy. For example, maybe I won't be able to write much for a few days during midterms, but then I can make up for it the next week and still be on track for my monthly writing goal.

What are your goals for 2012? How will you make them happen?

I'll close with another of my favorite quotes from Coach Wooden: "The journey is better than the inn." Here's wishing you a masterpiece of a journey in 2012!

Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and editor of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three years in a row and her nonfiction has appeared in a variety of national publications including Family Circle, Writer's Digest, The Writer, and The Los Angeles Times. She is the founder of Write On! For Literacy and Write On! Books Youth Publishing Company and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Fiction Writing at Purdue University, where she teaches undergraduate writing courses and serves as Assistant Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review.


Alex said...

This is interesting food for thought. I don't usually make resolutions, but goals are different, especially for the things I want to accomplish. I did something like this for a walking goal once and it worked. Thanks for reminding me about a very useful process.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great tips. I agree that it is especially important to break down goals into manageable steps no matter how you structure it. That way it is easier to feel successful along the way and stay on track


Martha said...

I love putting your goals into categories. Hadn't thought of that one. I teach my students the SMART method of goal writing


Christine Rains said...

Those are awesome tips. It is important to set specific goals. Last year, I didn't set myself any and I didn't get as much done as I had hoped. This year will be different. I wrote some specific goals on my blog and the world will be watching. I find that motivates me even more.

Dallas Woodburn said...

Thanks for your enthusiasm, everyone! Martha, I love that SMART method of goal-writing -- I will be sharing that with my students! Best wishes to everyone for a happy and productive 2012!

VS Grenier said...

Another great post. Its getting added to my top ten list for my newsletter this month.

Laura said...

Fantastic tips. And you're absolutely right about making measurable and attainable goals. Being unrealistic is never going to help.

And I love the reminder to count your blessings. I need to do that every night, too.

Dallas said...

Thanks, Virginia & Laura! :)

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