New Year's Resolutions. I hate 'em usually. But there are two times each year when I assess what I've achieved: my birthday and New Year's Day. So inevitably I make resolutions and in the past, I've made mistakes. I've set goals such as securing an agent or getting published.
Those are wonderful dreams and aspirations, but they aren't goals. Why? They aren't goals because they are out of my control.
I can't make an agent sign me nor can I force a publisher to print my work. I could pay a publisher to print my stuff, but I've decided NOT to go the self-publishing route. So what's more realistic? What can I set as a goal that takes me in the right direction without being out of my control?
Instead of stating as a goal that I want to secure an agent, I can set the goal of submitting/querying a minimum of three agents in 2008. Or a minimum of 10 agents. Or 20 agents. The point is that I can control who I query and how many agents I query, but I can't control their response. So I can't guarantee I'll be signed, but I can hold myself accountable for making an effort.
Setting a goal to write every day won't work for me because I KNOW me. Some days I don't want to go near the computer. Sometimes, I get sick and I will not drag myself to the computer to write. Why is this a big deal? This issue is different for everyone but if I set a goal and fall short of it, I get depressed and lose motivation. For others, failing might spur them on.
Consider what you know about yourself when you write your goals. Don't set yourself up to fail, unless you find failure highly motivational. I don't.
Next, don't be afraid to rework your goals during the year.
As you complete your goals, add new, realistic goals to your list. Checking off the old and adding new will make you feel great! If a goal isn't working for you and you get frustrated, rewrite the goal so it WILL work. These things were not written on stone by God and handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. Be flexible. Your ego will thank you.
Post your goals up where you'll see them every day.
Post them on the refrigerator. Beside your computer. Near your bed. On your bathroom mirror. Laminate them and post them in the shower. On the dashboard of your car. Whatever works for you! Remind yourself what you want to do and you'll be more likely to do it.
Finally, be grateful for your accomplishments, and keep track of them.
If you don't complete everything, don't beat yourself up. This is a tough one for me because I'm harder on me than anyone I know. Sometimes it's easy to get disgusted with yourself or frustrated because of lack of time or any number of other things. Cut yourself some slack and be grateful for what you have been able to do. If you keep track of the things you've completed, then you know what you are able to do and can aspire to do more.
1. Paint the office space in my new home, get moved, get the office organized.
2. Query at least 3 agents.
3. Query at least 3 publishers.
4. Finish my third manuscript.
5. Continue edits (and re-edits) on manuscripts 1 & 2.
These feel realistic, though I would definitely like to query more than 3 agents and 3 publishers - unless I get lucky the first time out! I can achieve these goals and it will feel good when I do. As I complete the goals on my list, I will be motivated to create new goals and that's what it's all about. Slowly climbing that mountain until you reach the peak!
Happy New Year everyone!