Yes, it’s this time of year again…goal-setting time! As many of you probably know by now, I’m a huge believer in setting goals for yourself. And, not just setting them, but putting them in writing so you see them often and remember where you’re headed.
I also believe an important part of goal setting that often gets overlooked is the revision of previous goals in order to form new ones. The prefix “re,” as most of you probably know, simply means “again.” So when you’re working on a revision of something, you’re trying to cast your vision again. When you revise a manuscript, you’re hoping to give it better focus, make your vision for it become clearer and come alive on the page. Likewise, when you revise previous goals, you’re trying to cast your vision for those goals again.
Instead of forming completely new goals for 2012, look back to those goals you set for yourself in 2011 (or even earlier). Which ones were you able to meet? Which ones did you come close to meeting? And which are still a dream?
If you met your goals–kudos to you! Look at those and ask yourself if they were perhaps too easy. Did you have to push yourself to meet them, or did they come rather effortlessly? This will help you in constructing new ones. Then determine if reaching those goals helped you stay on track with your overall career goals. You may’ve met your goal for writing 50 poems over the course of the year, but now that you’ve accomplished it, has it brought you closer to where you want to eventually end up as a writer?
If you came close to meeting your goals but didn’t, ask yourself why not. Were there distractions that got you off track? Did you end up going in a different direction with your writing? Did you just get lazy? (That last one can be tough to honestly admit!)
Sometimes distractions get in the way that cause our writing to take a back seat. That’s OK. If you still believe in these goals and think they are do-able, then recast them for 2012. Sometimes not meeting your goals because you ended up taking a different path is a good thing. In this case, re-evaluate those goals and see if you want to completely abandon them for your new direction. This is the power of goal revision. If you failed to meet your goals simply because of apathy or laziness, look closely at those as well and determine if those goals are still worth striving for. If your heart’s not really in it, then perhaps those need to be abandoned as well.
If you’re leaving 2011 with goals that are still only a dream and you haven’t even come close to reaching them, try to determine the reason. Were they unrealistic to begin with? If you set a word count goal for yourself with 3 kids under the age of 4 in the house, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Or, if your goal was to hit the NY Times Bestseller List when all you’ve published so far were magazine articles, there’s a good chance you’re going to be let down.
If you truly felt your goals were realistic but you still didn’t meet them, was it was due to circumstances out of your control? In this case, there’s not much you can do but try again. Either re-set those same goals for 2012 or revise them to include only elements you can control: “I will submit my manuscript to 10 publishing houses or agents by the end of 2012” vs. “I will have my manuscript published by the end of 2012.”
You can’t control what happens once your manuscript hits an editor’s desk, but you can control the process of getting it there.
Don’t just dive into your new goals without looking behind at your previous ones. Use them as your springboard to re-direct, re-vise, and re-evaluate your writing path. You’ll have a much clearer look into the future after you’ve looked into the mirror.
Blessings for a prosperous and word-filled 2012! And, please check this blog over the next week for an update list of 2012 writers’ conferences.