Writer’s Insights: My New Year’s Goals for 2018
It’s the start of a brand new year. Most people see the turning of the calendar as a chance to wipe their slates clean and start over again. January is often a hopeful time. People make New Year’s resolutions, often setting themselves lofty goals to accomplish for the following year.
Many people focus on goals like quitting a bad habit or exercising more. Some pledge to eat better or lose weight. Others will focus on their career goals, plotting out a corporate coup d’etat.
Writers aren’t really exceptions to the rule. So what kind of New Year’s resolutions have I made going into 2018?
One of the first things you should do when you’re setting goals is revisit your former goals. I actually discovered my list from 2017 a few days before December 31. It was quite enlightening to see what I’d written down as my goals at the end of 2016.
Last year was a big year for me. I quit my full-time, in-house publishing job and went back to running my own freelance editorial business full-time instead. (I’ve actually been freelancing since 2009, but had a three-year break, between 2014 and January 2017, where I was operating as a side business). I also bought a house, moved in with my partner, and started a new decade.
Most of that was already set up before January 1 rolled around last year, so I knew it was going to be a big year with big aspirations and big goals. Nonetheless, I wrote myself a list of ten New Year’s resolutions.
- Start Your Own Business
- Learn a New Skill
- Write Your “Art Novel”
- Train for Your Race
- Stay Grounded
- Have Fun
- Be Thankful
- Work Hard, Stay Humble, Stay Focused
Did I Succeed?
Re-reading that list, it’s clear to me I succeeded on some points and completely dropped the ball on others. I definitely accomplished #1, because I started my own business. I also worked hard toward #4, training for a race. I did run an 11km road race in December 2017. That wasn’t what I meant when I wrote this goal (I was aiming for a triathlon), but I did put in a lot of time working toward both the race I did and the race I thought I was going to do.
Did I feel prepared in the end? Not as much as I could have been.
On the flip side, I definitely bombed #7, read. I didn’t set myself a specific number, but one of my goals has been to get back to reading novels. I didn’t complete a single novel in 2017, despite lofty goals and big promises. I rarely made time for reading. I often prioritized other tasks.
Writing was also a mixed bag. I did do a lot of writing, but I didn’t publish much. I often found it a struggle to balance my work and my writing. It’s not really a surprise, because that’s been an ongoing challenge for me. Nonetheless, I’m disappointed with myself.
The Art of Setting Goals
Some of my New Year’s resolutions from 2017 fell into the particular New Year’s trap: They were lofty, vague, and difficult to quantify. If you’re reading nothing at all, “read more” is a sort of vague, nebulous goal. If I read one more page, I’d be reading more – but is that really what I want to accomplish?
Vague goals are difficult to create action plans for, which makes them harder to achieve. They also have a tendency to be inflated: I can say I want to go to the gym every single day, but if I’m a couch potato who has never once set foot in a gym, I’m probably going to have a difficult time making such a drastic change.
Several of my goals were very fuzzy. What does it mean to “stay grounded”? How do I qualify “having fun” and how do I keep that in motion all year long? Maybe I had fun in June, but December was something of a shitshow.
Looking at my 2017 resolutions, I can see some definite takeaways. The goals I did accomplish were either already in motion or high on my priority list. Those I didn’t accomplish tended to be more vague and difficult to quantify.
If I want to be more successful about reaching my New Year’s goals, then I’m going to need to take a different approach. Vague, fuzzy goals like “have fun” and “stay grounded” sound great in practice, but they don’t work for me. They’re wonderful aspirations, but I’m the kind of person who needs a structured action plan.
Setting 2018 Goals
I had a big year in 2017, and I want to keep my momentum going. I want bigger and better things from 2018. I don’t think it’s necessarily a mistake to make New Year’s resolutions. I know a lot of people disdain them, precisely because of the problems I identified in my own goal-setting. Too many people make vague, lofty statements without having a real action plan for how to drastically change something in their life.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with goals, though. We just need to know how to go about setting them in ways that work for us.
I’m setting goals for 2018 because I think there’s value in the exercise.
My New Year’s Resolutions
So what are my New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2018? I’m trying to incorporate what I’ve learned from reviewing last year’s, and this is what I’ve come up with.
- Publish Four or More Books
- Read 24 Books
- Balance Cardio and Strength Training
- Prioritize Writing
- Incorporate Yoga
- Do One Fun Thing a Week
- Learn How to Use Social Media Effectively
- Focus on Work-Life Balance
These goals are much more concrete. Instead of saying “write more” or “read more,” I’ve given myself specific goals about how much reading or how much writing I want to do. “Do one fun thing per week” is a more concrete goal than “have fun.”
A couple of the goals are more “fuzzy,” such as prioritizing writing, balancing my training between cardio and strength, or focusing on my work-life balance. Nonetheless, these give me more structured guidelines – a better idea of what I want to accomplish, which makes it easier to create the blueprint.
Can I Do It?
Goals should be challenging, but achievable. Ultimately, these goals may not be achievable for me. I can certainly read 24 books in a year if I had nothing else to do. The question becomes work-life balance. Do I have too much work? If I’m prioritizing writing, reading will need to go by the wayside if I’m crunched for time.
The only way to discover if I’ll be successful is to work at the goals, chip away at them throughout the year. And, with some luck, I’ll have a chance to look back at my 2018 goals and tick everything off as we head into another new year.
Until then, I have a lot of work to do.