Goal Setting for the New Year or Any Time

Saturday, December 28, 2019
How do you set your goals for the New Year? Our accountability group (Hi Ladies!) has been discussing our 2019 goals – what each person wanted to accomplish and what they actually did. 

I have a confession to make. I hate these kinds of conversations. I’m excellent at “setting” goals. But actually following through? Let’s just say that I’m easily distracted. Put out a call that sparks an idea and there I go. Or offer me a paying gig. That tends to be pretty distracting too.

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I’ve accomplished nothing. I’ve written and submitted three books this year. The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and The Murders of Tupac and Biggie, both in Abdo’s American Crime Stories, will come out in January. I’ve also read something like 140 books ranging from novels, memoirs, and graphic novels, to picture books and juvenile nonfiction.

Last year, I thought I had nailed this whole goal setting thing with Renee’s SMART goals. SMART goals are specific - write 1000 words a day vs write every day. They are relevant which means that they match your larger ambitions. Writing SMART goals would keep me on track. I was sure of it.

Then I started doing something else Renee suggested. In another post, "Write Your Dreams into Existence," Renee asked us to journal about where we wanted to be in 10 years. This method involves writing down ten long term goals that you want to achieve in ten years. Write them as if you’ve already achieved them vs something that will happen in the future. This means that you write “I have an agent” vs “I will find an agent.” Recopy your ten long term goals daily.

When I did this, I noticed the many things in my day that didn’t feed into these goals. I also started to see opportunities that would help me reach them. These are some of the things that “distracted” me from my annual goals.

How then should you set your annual goals? First things first, don’t think of them as annual goals. As Margo recently said in her post, “I've always wondered what was so magical about starting a new year. Why do we make all these promises to do all these things just because January is lucky enough to start a brand new, fresh calendar?” 

These aren’t goals for January. These aren’t goals for the New Year. They are your writing goals. Some will be accomplished this year. Others will take longer.

So whether you do this now, at the tail end of December, or in two weeks when it is actually January, think about where you want to be in ten years. Do what Renee suggested and come up with ten long term goals for your future. Remember to write them in the present tense. 1. I have an agent. 2. I do school visits. 3. I have a strong online presence...

Then recopy them daily for several weeks. Do they still feel like solid long term goals? Rework the ones that feel off. Then repeat the process, writing them daily for several weeks.

Once you have long term goals that feel right, you are ready to set your short term SMART goals. These short term goals are the initial steps in realizing your long term goals. 

After all, isn’t the whole point of setting goals to help you get where you want to be?


To find out more about Sue's writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins  January 6th, 2020. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--Don't be shocked, but I might rejoin the BKers this weekend. I took on Margo's "challenge" of beginning the new year before January 1, and so far, I've been doing some writing.

Please introduce me to the other Butt Kickers... It's been so long. ;)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Gosh, ten years, Sue? I'm big on setting goals but a year is about as far as I'm comfortable going into the future.

But if I had to think that far ahead, I just want to be of sound mind and body in ten years. Everything else would be gravy! :-)

(Congrats on all you've accomplished this year! Those SMART goals are terrific!)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sue, I love the way you curated everyone's posts and brought them together in your goal making plans. I usually do SMART goals, but I need to do the long term affirmations. There's power to positive thinking. But I can imagine my husband finding my journal with the same words written in it like when Wendy discovers Jack's pages in The Shining. ;) My therapist told me to add the word "NOW" at the end of my affirmations. "I have an agent now." I joked with her that it reminded me of "Serenity now!" but she says it works. Something about that word sparks something in your brain.

Sioux ~ Congrats on taking on Margo's challenge and writing! Please do come back to the BKers! I need to get back there too. :)

Nicole Pyles said...

I love this post! I'm along the lines of Cathy though, I feel uncomfortable saying my goals for 10 years ahead. It's probably why I never know what to say when I'm asked in interviews about where I see myself in 5 years (to which my answer is always along the lines of hoping I have a job?). But I've decided to go easy on new goals and carry forward my 2019 goals with an adjustment or two.

And Angela, I had to laugh about your shining remark. I've run into writing journals of mine that sound like that haha.

Renee Roberson said...

Wow, I feel like a celebrity after reading this post! I'm with you, Sue, that I'm great at setting goals but get easily distracted. I got distracted big time this year with a job change and now I'm afraid to go back and look at all those goals I set in the BK group last year that I didn't meet. Writing down the long-term goals has been really helpful since I started doing that--and I too have had to tweak a few things along the way to make sure those long-term goals are on course.
My own therapist noticed that a LOT of my long-term goals have to do with money and being debt-free in the future, so we had to have a nice, long conversation about why my idea of success and happiness is tied to money. Oh, my lovely childhood!
I'll try get back over to the BK group by Monday so I can set and re-evaluate some of my new writing goals!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Sioux-January is now! Or whenever you need to try something new. Glad to see you took Margo's challenge.

Renee-You are our celebrity! And I understand that issue with money based goals. "Why do you think you deserve a new dress? That money could be spent on someone else?" Of course, after you said that, I had to go back and look at my long term goals just to be sure...

Nicole and Cathy - I get the aversion to long term goals. To a point. And yet, do you plan for retirement? Make them! It isn't like you are going to get voted off the island in 9.9 years if you haven't made any progress.

Angela - Ha! I hadn't thought of that but it is way too funny. I almost said "I should explain why I am doing this to the boys so that if they find my journal..." No, that won't help. They'd just give me that look. Mmm hmm. New Age rot.


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