Reaching for Goals

17 01 2013

cardinal in snowLooking over my goals from last year  made me wonder why so many stay the same. Do I really want to achieve those goals? Deep down where it counts? Or are they things I think I should do? Or do I feel guilty spending time and effort on them?

I once read that you should get rid of everything in your closets or drawers that you haven’t worn in the past year. You know the stuff–the too-small sizes you hope to get back into someday, the too-big clothes you keep just in case, that favorite pair of pants with the broken zipper that you plan to fix someday. I’m wondering if it isn’t the same thing with goals. Maybe I’ve outgrown some of them. Or maybe they just don’t fit right now. So when I clean out my closet, I’ll also make a clean sweep of the Yearly To-Do Lists at the same time.

If I haven’t done it this year, will I really do it next year? Seriously? Most likely not. So why have it hanging around, making me feel guilty and inadequate? Why not give myself permission to jettison it?

This year I’ll try paring down my expectations and give myself a break. I did make some pretty huge goals this year, so I’ll look back on those and forgive myself for the others that I skipped or didn’t find time for. This year, though, they won’t go on my list again. It’s obvious I’m not motivated to do them, so I won’t waste energy telling myself I should get them done.

I’m also going to go easier on myself when I make goals. I’ve already done that with my yearly list, but I’m going to do it with my daily to-do lists too.

to do list

One of my goals for last year was to have 8 books published. Not sure why that number came to me at the beginning of 2012, but that’s what I wrote. I suppose if I count all 5 vols. of the Native American Encyclopedia, the story in A Community of Writers, and my art/bio in Students Making Sense of the World, I almost made my goal. And actually, a book packager bought my YA historical, so that does make 8 books. I also wanted to have more than 2000 articles in print. I made that goal by writing 180 articles this year for an educational publisher. And I wanted to increase my picture book illustration skills, which I did with post-grad work this summer. And I’ve been setting aside time each day to practice my art.

But for 2013 I want to have more relaxing goals. Topping the list is a trip to Antarctica. I almost made it this year, but I had to cancel because of some family obligations.  I’m already picturing myself sailing past icebergs next January. I think I’ll limit myself to 3 goals instead of the usual 1-2 page list this year. If I finish those, I can always set more. And maybe without all that guilt to hold me back, I’ll accomplish more than ever.3-list



4 responses

17 01 2013
Liz Hollar

Permission to jettison the old goals is great advice. And what a list you had last year! I think Antarctica sounds like a great goal — and a potential story.

17 01 2013

Thanks, Liz! And you know who’ll be critiquing any Antarctica stories I write. 😉

23 01 2013
Joanne Roberts

It sounds like you’ve been busy. Congratulations on a productive year and best wishes in the new year to come. When I don’t complete a goal I think I should have, I try to break it into steps for the next year. For me, not achieving usually means I started at the wrong end.

23 01 2013

Those are great ideas, Joanne! Coming at the goal a different way or using smaller steps can both help. Wishing you a productive new year as well.

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