Saturday, 29 December 2012

Better Than Setting Goals

File:New-Year Resolutions list.jpg 
By Photos public [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It is the end of 2012, just a few more days until the beginning of 2013. So if you haven't already started thinking about goals, resolutions, how to be better next year, now is the time to do it.

Anyone who has read even a small number of personal development and motivational books will know how important it is to physically write (or type) your goals out, and have them displayed somewhere you will see them throughout the coming year (until you are so ridden with guilt that you tear them down...). 

The books then go on to give you useful tips such as using the acronym SMART.

For example, my goal might be:

Specific - By Dec 31st 2013 I will have written another 20 drafts of novels. 

Measurable - On NYE 2013, can I see 20 drafts on my computer? Yes. In June 2013 will I be able to know how I'm going? Yes, either I have 10+ drafts and am on track, or less than 10 and I'm behind. So all good. 

Attainable - Okay, so based on this year, in 5 months I worked on 8 or so different drafts, but only 2 of them were completely finished, and only another 3 or 4 were close. So, it is going to be difficult, but I also know a lot more now about writing, so is possibly attainable...with a stretch. 

Realistic - Very possibly not, to be honest. I'm spending more time on my blogs, trying to build these up, provide you with more good quality content (and a few other secret things that will come out soon), as well as hopefully spending more time dealing with literary agents and publishers, getting articles and some short stories written and published, and you never know, 2013 might be the year I find a nice, suitable, tall, dark and handsome hero for my own little story. However, in this case I'm not going to let that worry me. You, on the other hand, should try to be realistic. 

Timely - Does it have a specific time frame? Yes, I'm trying to do one draft every 2 weeks. As most people work best to deadlines, focusing on one every two weeks is more likely to be effective than 20 by the end of the year. It stops me from foolishly convincing myself that I can slack for the first half of the year and then try to catch up. 

So, that is the method you will hear in a lot of places. And it is a good method, if you already have quite specific goals that are very important for you to meet. 

However, if you don't have such a specific goal in mind, here are my suggestions for creating a positive outlook on the coming year with opportunities to achieve which will make you feel good, but not make you feel too bad if you don't do them.

1. Focus on personal development and the underlying desire  of your goals.

The reason I'm doing this entire challenge is not to have 100 drafts per se, as that is just silly if I don't do anything with them, or don't learn anything along the way. 

The actual desire behind this challenge is that I want to become a much better, faster, more prolific and satisfied writer. Writing 100 drafts will help me a lot in this, but by focusing just on that, I could miss greater opportunities to reach my real desire. 

To be a prolific and good writer, I need to write a lot, yes. I also need to read a lot. I need to identify weaknesses and improve them, I need to nurture my creative spirit, I need to communicate and laugh with other people going through the same thing, etc. 

If I give up going to a writing conference in order to stay home and write, have I actually gotten closer to my goal of being a long-term writer? 

So, look at your desire and mind map how you can achieve it. And challenge yourself to work across different areas. 

2. Give yourself a 2013 bucket list. 

With one or two huge goals/desires such as mine, it is easy to forget about everything else in life. But adding in more goals, trying to split your focus and be a famous writer, chef, personal trainer, and belly dancer might all be a bit too much. 

So, to ensure that I still do a broad range of things that excite and challenge me, but don't distract too much from my major goals, last year I created a bucket list. It had 80 items, divided into 8 categories that ranged through 'creative', 'fitness', 'domestic' etc. 

Examples of some of my items included:
- learn to cook sushi.
- complete 10km in (under) an hour. (it was originally 'under', but as I only managed 1:00.23, I crossed out the 'under' and it was all good!). 
- eat at a Korean BBQ.
- join a writer's group.

And every week I would look at my list, pick a few things that I would see if I could cross off, and actually looked forward to doing it!

Now, at the end of the year, I have to openly admit that I have not completed the list, I adapted quite a few, and even then am probably only halfway through, because things change. But I still did 40+ new things that I would otherwise never have done! And had a great sense of achievement throughout the year as I ticked things off. And some of the left over things will just be moved across to this year's bucket list. Simples. 

So, feel free to make goals, but think about the actual desire behind the goal and whether your goal is the only or best way to achieve it. And just for a life of adventure and fun, make a 2013 bucket list. Go on, I dare ya.

Finally, just to put myself on the line, I'm going to open up my 2013 bucket list to your suggestions. 
Comment below things that you want to do in 2013 and if I'm game enough, I'll join you. Or you can openly admit you aren't game to do it, but would love to see if I would. I'm just insane enough I might take it on.

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