The end of the year, for me, is a time of reflection, but the start of the year is the time for planning the action for the year ahead. I find that without a set of goals to maintain my focus, I can quickly fall into the lull of procrastination, and time quickly flies while I stand still.
These are not resolutions – which, as we all know, never last. These are milestones to reach for during the months ahead. But milestones are big concepts. They are scary and looming and feel far away. Often, we don’t reach for our goals because we see them as impossibly unattainable.
But, as the old Chinese proverb goes, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. We all know that by braking big tasks down into smaller chunks, we can work through them stage by stage, until one day we realise that all the stages are complete, and we have achieved our goal.
This is common knowledge. It is easy to realise this theory, but strangely a lot of people find it difficult to put into practice. This is because in order to know what those manageable stages are, we have to put a lot of thought into working them out.
This year, I am focusing on my writing goals. For the past few years as I’ve reflected on the year before, I’ve always been disappointed that my writing life hasn’t moved further forward. As usual, I am paralysing myself by focusing on the bigger picture, and letting myself become overwhelmed by it. Why aren’t I a published novelist yet? Why haven’t I got an agent yet? Why aren’t I confident enough to run workshops yet? Why haven’t I obtained the authority to speak at conferences yet? And so on.
So to tackle this problem, I’ve devised a worksheet to help me work through my thoughts and create some realistic goals for the year.
The worksheet does several things:
- It focuses my thoughts on where I am today.
- It helps me materialise my ultimate writerly dreams.
- It makes me think about the milestones I need to achieve to get to those dreams.
- It then prompts me to chose the most logical milestone to focus on for the coming months.
- And then break that one down into smaller, manageable chunks.
- While thinking out a strategy to help me keep on track.
You can download the worksheet for yourself here:
Please do let me know if you find it useful. I’ll be tracking my own progress through this blog, and I hope you can pop by and let me know how your own goals are going – or you can let me know via Twitter.
For me, my next milestone is finishing my novel. Instead of setting myself word count challenges, which I usually fail, I’m determined instead to create a habit in which I write for several hours per week. I’ll write more on developing a habit in future posts.