Reaching Your Goals, Part 1

I had a wonderful response to my honest-yet-uncomfortable blog post about writing jealousy. I loved everyone’s comments and the fact that for writers and other creatives, jealousy can be an uncomfortable truth. Here’s how I combat that problem.

In that post, I mentioned that I would share what I do to attain my writing/life goals. It’s something I started about 3 years ago at the end of the year, and since the new year is just around the corner, I’ll do it again. I first learned these goal exercises from a women’s writing group, which helped me immensely. I’m breaking up this post into 2 parts.

For this exercise, I created a Word document you can use (click here). I normally just write these dates and months in my journal. Feel free to use whatever method works best for you. To start, write down all the months from 2010 and then 2011. January 2010, February 2010, March 2010, etc. Then repeat with 2011. In the 2010 column, write down in each month significant events that happened to you, whether it be writing related or personal. Like for me, I moved to the Bay Area in April 2010 and our house in LA sold in July 2010 so I would write these events down next to the appropriate month. Write down everything, good and bad. Then for the coming year, jot down things you’d like to achieve in those coming months. Yes, I know you have no idea what you’re even doing this weekend, let alone August 2011, but trust me, just write down notes to yourself. Even if some months are blank. Like for me, I want to finish an outline of a new YA book by February 2011, so that’s what I’d write down.

Now that you’ve written everything down, take a look at yourself and give yourself a pat on the back. Look at how much you’ve accomplished in 2010 and overcame and look what you have to look forward to in 2011. When a new year rolls around, we tend to think about 1) losing weight 2) doing better 3) what we don’t have. With this exercise, you’re reflecting back on what you have done and what you will achieve. It’s much more helpful to say, “This year, I finished a draft of my book, celebrated a wedding anniversary, and traveled to Europe,” than to say, “I want to lose 25 pounds next year.”

I think what’s been the most helpful to me is to celebrate my accomplishments. My very own, not somebody else’s. I’m very much the person who is planning 10 steps ahead rather than looking back and saying, hey I did that, cool. This exercise helps me refocus my goals and see what I have achieved and what I want to achieve. I hope this helps you too.

Special thanks to SJ Hodges and the Wednesday Writers Group for introducing me to this easy yet wonderful writing exercise.

13 Comments on “Reaching Your Goals, Part 1

  1. That sounds like exactly what I need. I’ve been so busy focusing on what I didn’t do that I’ve ignored the major things I have accomplished. Thanks for the idea!

    • You’re welcome Kate! Thanks for reading. And I’m sure you’ve accomplished a lot this year. I think we get so focused on what we want next, we forget we actually did some great things! Happy new year!

  2. Jenn – you’re always so creative and practical! Thanks for sharing this exercise, as it also helps me to focus on what I should be thankful for, instead of what I don’t have! I hope that you and Brendan have a wonderful Christmas holiday and only great accomplishments in 2011!

    • Thank you Arlene! It’s always easy at the end of the year to look forward instead of seeing all the great things you’ve done. Happy holidays to you and your family too!

  3. This is a great idea. It really energizes you for the year ahead and makes you realize nothing is impossible. Thanks for another great column.

  4. Pingback: It Was a Very Good Year | A Life's Work

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