Happy New Year!

Which means…. it’s time for people to make resolutions.

I’m of a split mind when it comes to those things.  You might have seen those pictures of the gyms on January 1st, chock full, and then two weeks later, it is empty.  It’s easy to say you want to do something, but another thing entirely to actually take the action to do it.  But why do all these new year’s resolutions fail?  Why can’t people follow through on them?  Are they plain lazy, do they not care?  Are they just shooting their mouths off?

Well, maybe, but I know some of these people who make resolutions, only to fall off the wagon a few weeks later.  Heck, I’ve BEEN one of them.  Maybe part of it had to do with being lazy, but I think more of it has to do with goal-setting.  Not all goals are the same.  Some are destined to fail before the person even begins.  There are a couple ways, however, for you to set goals more likely to be achieved.

1.  Make sure your goals are under your control.  As much as we wish it were so, you can’t set a realistic goal of “selling my book.”  You can’t MAKE someone buy your book.  You shouldn’t have a goal to be rich, or to find Prince Charming, or to get a promotion.  All of those things involve someone else’s decisions or actions.  Even if you do everything you possibly can, there is no guarantee that the other person is going to hold up their end.  More realistic goals are: Write a book; edit a book; become more social; suck up to the boss.  If you definitely want you book published this year, a goal can be to self publish your book–that’s under your control.  You can make a goal to submit your book, but you shouldn’t have a goal to have the editor buy it (unless you really have something over that editor!).

2. Make those goals measurable in some way.  Have some way of measuring your progress.  This can be a word count, or hours, or chapters.  Some people have goals to write a certain number of short stories.  I could say, “My resolution is to write more this year,” but unless I have some sort of measure, how do I know I’ve written more, and also, if I don’t have a measured goal, it’s easier to put it off.  “Yeah, I’ll write more.  Later.”  Have a number of words or chapters per week that you’d like to get done.  I wouldn’t go longer than a week (for instance, “I’ll write 25,000 words per month) because many of the writers I know are procrastinators–they’ll save it for the last week!

3.  Set goals incrementally.  Sometimes it is best to have planned steps to get to your goal.  Divide the year up into quarters so your goal isn’t so huge.  Re-evaluate things as time goes by, and make sure your goals are still realistic.

Above all, make sure your journey through the year is enjoyable.  Yes, of course some parts of writing are painful.  But keep the joy in it by having a clear vision of your goal, and know that every day, you are getting closer to it.

I’ll talk about my own personal goals in the next post.  But for a preview, head over to Dean Wesley Smith’s blog and read his articles about writing in 2013, and some of his ideas about goals, etc.  I’ll be drawing a lot from them, as well as from Heinlein’s rules (which I’ve been trying to follow for years, but I think I might finally “get them” enough to actually do it this year).

Best of luck to everyone this year, whether you have a resolution or not!

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