I love goals. I love starting out on a project, having benchmarks along the way, and working to accomplish everything.
I have been known over shoot my goals.
By a lot.
One year, I was going to finish a book, participate in my first triathlon, teach the four different kinds of classes, practice the piano every day, and pretty soon I had planned more daily activities than I had day.
I crashed and burned before I even got started.
These days, I’m taking a more realistic approach.
I have some pretty big goals for 2015, some dreams that I’m hoping beyond hope have a chance to become a little more tangible than dream status. But I also know that for them to manifest in the way that I want, my daily life choices are what will make them come true.
That is the approach I’m taking in sharing a few tools with you to help structure life, and goals, in a way that is sustainable.
1. Be Accountable.
Every year, when my students sign their course disclosures, the statement that basically indicates they are taking responsibility for their actions. This is a hard one – it’s very easy to not get writing time in because of X, Y and Z, to skip a workout, to binge watch Netflix, etc. The trouble with lack of accountability is that we not only fall behind on the goals we set, but we start to cast blame, most likely on the heads of the people who are closest to us.
Take some time, really look at where your life is and how you are spending it. If you are like most people in this modern world, chances are decent there are pockets of time spent on social media or gaming or watching that we justify for all the reasons in the world, but that could be used for achieving goals. I highly recommend taking the time to plot out your day in a manner seen here. If it worked for some of the greatest creators, why not you?
Another part of accountability is having something to show for your work. If you have kids (or can remember when you were a kid), growth wasn’t something noticeable day to day, but when the pants were too short, or when the mark on the doorway was suddenly much higher, the progress became very clear. So too it is with our daily activities. My CP’s and I have a facebook message group where we share our goals, the dates we would like to achieve them, and report in as necessary.
When drafting, the daily word count is an easy indicator, revision, it gets a little more challenging. Luckily, our contributor Jamie Raintree has created spreadsheets to help with daily word count, tracking revision progress and has them set up to see daily and monthly progress.
2. Get Organized.
I’m that person who has a color coordinated calendar on my iPad and iPhone, and who gets great joy out of seeing everything structured and planned. But beyond that, trying to keep track of deadlines, research, projects, characters, and all those great articles that show up in the reader of your choice can quickly create a mountain of papers, and that mountain may tempt you away from the work you wanted to do.
Everyone has their own preferences regarding how to get organized. Increasingly, I’m going digital, in part because I don’t have a huge house, in part because I recently saw my father-in-law spend two months sorting and shredding what he kept for 45 years and it gave the creeps in a major way. Mostly, it is because I have what I need with me all the time.
|Good for storing, ideas and reminders,
because an elephant never forgets.
Evernote is my sorting, keeping, storing tech of choice. There are two great articles that will explain the ways you can use it here and here. If technology isn’t tickling your fancy, by all means explore your own other ways, but figure out a system that works for you and make yourself stick to it. (And if you have a different site you really love, please share in the comments.)
3. Get Centered.
It doesn’t matter the dream you are chasing, whether it is writing, some other creative outlet, becoming healthier, etc., there are going to be setbacks.
Say it again, there are going to be setbacks.
Go ahead and research one of your heroes. Really research them. Whatever they are now, whatever they do that makes you admire them, they didn’t wake up one day as that. They worked, and failed.
If you aren’t grounded with a firm knowledge of who you are, it’s hard to keep going when rejections or harsh reviews come in.
If you aren’t centered regarding what is important, really, truly important, it can feel like standing in the bottom of a dried up well only to look up toward the light and see dirt flying down to bury you.
And sometimes, when we are working toward a goal, we forget the necessity to refill the vessel we are drawing from. There is a necessity to take care of the creator, the goal chaser, the self. Study philosophers who resonate with you, practice yoga, tai chi or meditation, pray, leave every once in a while and become one with nature. Where possible, build a support system. People who you can meet with face to face is best, but online works for many as well. These need to be people who can cheer you on when great things happen, or hold you tight when it seems like they never will. There are some great organizations out there that do this, such as critique partners, other writers who are online or blogging, or organizations like SCBWI or WFWA.
Of course, you may want to get more specific with what you are hoping to see in the new year. Hopefully, these three suggestions having given you a few helpers in making 2015 the absolute best.
Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is an editor for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter and can be found here.