Hard to believe that the end of 2011 is already here! This time of year, I like to write down my goals for the next year. I think it's infinitely important to have goals, and to actually write them down on paper. The act of writing them longhand seems to solidify them and make them more real (at least for me). I like to write them in big, fat sharpie, too, so they are nice and dark and bold.
A lot of people make New Year's Resolutions around this time. Resolutions are good, but GOALS are great. Resolutions tend to be vague, and tend to be forgotten. For example, before I really understood goals, I would have a New Year's Resolution along the lines of, "Get in shape" or "Write more" or "Save money". These things are all good, but they aren't defined. How do you define getting in shape, or writing more, or saving money? Without having a defined GOAL, resolutions are useless. How will you ever cross off "Get in shape" if you have nothing to define it by? By defining these resolutions, you turn them into goals. "Get in shape" becomes "Lose 10 pounds" or better yet, "Exercise five times a week". Do you see the difference? It goes from vague to specific, and when you have a specific goal, you know when you achieve it. "Write more" becomes "Write 12 short stories" or "Write X amount of words every day/week". "Save Money" becomes "Save X amount".
So this year, instead of writing New Year's Resolutions, write Goals, and be specific. Also, don't just think of your goals, WRITE THEM DOWN. Seriously. Get out a sharpie and a piece of paper, and write them down. Now they are concrete, tangible. Now you can cross them off as you complete them. Ahh, the satisfaction.
Here are my 2012 Goals:
1. Write New Novel
2. Send out query letters
3. Learn 6 new songs on the piano
4. Read at least 24 books
5. Do crunches, squats and push-ups/weights 3x a week
6. Write 12 short stories
7. Get student loan down to X amount
8. Go to Disney World! (Just to throw a 'Gimme' in there)
Once you have your Yearly Goals defined and written down, you've completed Phase 1. Yay! Oh, wait, you thought you were done? HAHA. No.
Yearly goals can seem big and daunting. My "Write New Novel" goal seems big and daunting even to me. How do you tackle these goals? Easy. You break them down into Monthly Goals. This makes your big, Yearly Goal into a smaller, more manageable Monthly Goal. Again, write these down on paper.
For example, here are my January 2012 Goals:
1. Write at least 15,000 words of New Novel
2. Learn a new song on the piano
3. Read 2 books
4. Do crunches, squats and push-ups/weights 3x a week
5. Write 1 short story
6. Pay X amount toward student loan
That's not so bad, is it? It's still defined, but it's smaller. Do this for every month so that all of your Yearly Goals are broken down into Monthly Goals. Phase 2 is complete.
On to Phase 3. Weekly Goals. Yup, you guessed it--break your Monthly Goals down into Weekly Goals.
For example, the first week of January will look like this for me:
1. Write at least 3,750 words
2. Choose a song to learn on the piano and practice on Tuesday and Thursday
3. Read a book
4. Do crunches, squats, and push-ups/weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
5. Start a short story
6. Set aside X amount for student loan (this is really a monthly thing for me, not a weekly thing, but I'll put it here just for example)
Then, I make a daily To-Do list based on my Weekly Goals. I usually do this at the beginning of the week. I guess you can call that Phase 4.
Why do people usually forget their New Year's Resolutions by February? Because their goals aren't defined and broken down. They don't have a map to follow, so they stop trying. Making defined Goals and breaking them down like this is essentially making yourself a map, something you can follow to finish your Goals. Saying you're going to write a book sounds lofty, but saying you're going to write 3,750 words a week sounds doable. It's all about bite-sized pieces, one piece at a time. And you just keep going.
So with that,
Happy New Year!!
See y'all in 2012 :)