Out of sight, out of mind

Saturday, December 23, 2017
Every January each member of my critique group makes a list of writing (and/or other) goals, seals them in an envelope, and opens them in December to measure her success. A few weeks ago we got our lists back and read them aloud to the group. When we reached the end of the list, we summarized our successes and failures.

This year I met fewer than half my goals. I had four items on my list and right now can't remember any of them. Overall, this practice of writing them down and putting them aside can work, but I wasn't following through.

Like every other question I have, I turned to the internet for goal-setting answers. What I found there were flow charts, pie charts, worksheets, time-limit suggestions, and one strategy that involved identifying 41 types of goals. That's too much pressure, and if I can't remember my four goals, I would never remember 41 types of goals.

I'm a visual learner, and I realized I needed to see my goals. At one of my earlier jobs in public relations, I wrote my assignments on a large monthly desk calendar. When I completed an assignment, I would place a large checkmark in front of it. If I did not complete it by the assigned day, I would draw a single line through it and rewrite it on a later date. I repeated this process until I succeeded.

These visual reminders helped me understand what I needed to do, what I had accomplished, and what I was ignoring. The system wasn't perfect, but I liked tracking my goals and progress every day.

My 2018 plan for success is to write down specific goals in January, and copy them on my phone, calendar or Post-It notes where I will see them. I'm hoping this process will increase my success rate. I'll let you know how it goes.

How are you setting your goals for 2018?

Happy Holidays!

Mary Horner's story Shirley and the Apricot Tree was recently published in Kansas City Voices. She has written for numerous publications and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges, and earned the Writing Certificate from UM-St. Louis.


Margo Dill said...

I have done that same goal exercise where you open it after having it sealed for the year, and that never works for me! I'm like you! I have to see it. I am really into the ONE WORD resolution model, but it doesn't really work for writing goals. Anyway, i like your idea of making your goals visual so you don't forget.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--You are assuming I even set goals for the next year. HA!

After reading your post, however, I think I have at least one big goal I need to set for 2018.

Thanks for the nudge, and may 2018 be a productive and satisfying year for you.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I'd never heard of sealing goals. I can see why that wouldn't work too well. So, it's not your fault, Mary. :)

I have one goal for 2018 and it's super simple. I share that tomorrow.

Happy holidays to you, and cheers to an awesome New Year!

Pat Wahler said...

I can't remember what to buy at the grocery store without looking at a list, so I'm sure hiding goals in an envelope wouldn't work for me.

Writing them on a calendar just as I do a doctor's appointment, sounds like a much better plan.


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