Every January I write a post dissing resolutions and advocating setting goals for the new year. If you want to read more about why I think resolutions prewire us to fail, check out last years post.
Here’s the abbreviated version. Goals offer an opportunity to approach success in realistic increments, not just in steps forward but those inevitable steps back. With a goal in sight, tiny reversals don’t have to mean failure. In fact, those blips on our path often represent lessons learned.
Now, compare resolutions. Resolutions are nearly always all or nothing, no compromise allowed, no second chances to get it right, and worst of all, offer no opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
Today I will—somewhat bravely, if you ask me—examine the goals I set forward last January to see where I triumphed, where I failed, and where I could have done better.
Below (in bold) are the goals exactly as they appeared in my very first blog post of 2014. Comments and lessons learned follow each goal.
1. Complete CRYING FOR MERCY.
I didn’t complete the manuscript. I’m at 70k words and still writing. Because I took time off from the novel to write two shorts for anthologies, CRYING FOR MERCY took a back seat for part of the year. It was a worthwhile tradeoff.
LESSON: Be flexible. Goals can morph as circumstances change, whereas resolutions tend to be immutable.
2. Self-publish BLOOD UNDER WILL.
This didn’t happen either, but it was a conscious choice. BLOOD UNDER WILL is a prequel to my novel A TWIST OF HATE. Originally, A TWIST OF HATE was scheduled for publication in October of 2014 but due to contract negotiations, the date was pushed to June 2015. As a result, I decided to hold off on BLOOD UNDER WILL until spring 2015.
LESSON: Sometimes goals set on January 1 may not make sense when forces beyond our control intercede. Don’t stick to a goal if it’s no longer sound.
3. Find more time to read. Reading is essential to becoming a better writer. I read fifty books last year. My goal for 2014 is to double that number.
This was a resolution cloaked as a goal, and I’m embarrassed I immortalized it in a public blog post. In reality, I read sixty-five books in 2014, a 30% increase—not bad VR!
LESSON: Ground your goals in what is possible. I used to read a hundred+ books a year, but now, by necessity, I spend more time in front for the keyboard than with my nose in a novel.
4. Give more – in all ways.
While I had less to give monetarily, I found myself volunteering more. I’m still learning how to support a cause without throwing money at it. Time and effort are as important, if not more important, than dollars. I’m keeping this one on my list for 2015.
LESSON: Be creative when choosing a path to reach your goals.
5. Guard against regret. It’s been seeping into my thoughts lately, and there’s nothing more crippling.
I could have done better with this one. Regret is destructive—no question, and it’s difficult to escape entirely. As with #4, I’m keeping this on my 2015 list.
LESSON: Reaching a goal may be more difficult than anticipated. Don’t beat yourself up. Take pride in any forward movement even if you’re not there yet. Allow your goals to buoy your confidence not sink it.
Now that I have a head start, time to frame my goals for 2015!
How did you do with your 2014 goals?
Are you prepped and ready for 2015?