New Goals for a New Year

2017-new-year-postcardI’m immersed in the post-Christmas chaos lull. I love the holidays, but my psyche needs a little down time recharge and readjust.

It’s a perfect time to think about the future and set my “mini-goals” for 2017.

Aside from the perennial “get more exercise,” “eat better,” and “be nicer to others” entries, here are some things I’m planning to work on:

  • Do something I might not normally do at least once a month. I’m not talking skydiving here because that is never going to happen. But I could go out to a comedy club or take a sewing lesson. In order to grow, I need to experience different things.
  • Let others live their own lives. I so want people to be successful, that I tend to take responsibility for their failures. Since we need to fail to grow, I need to step back and let others grow from their failures.
  • Make the time to read more and write more. I have all sorts of “projects” that get pushed into the corner because life happens. That’s becoming my excuse to avoid things.
  • Give myself credit. I have a strong tendency to focus on what I haven’t done and my shortcomings instead of what I’ve accomplished and what I do well. I will set a goal for weekly, reaffirmation time.
  • Every day I will find joy in something. It can be something goofy the dog does, spotting a hawk in flight, or sharing a joke with my father.

At the beginning of your new year, I hope you find a snippet of time to set some small goals to help make your life better.


We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Resolutions!

ResolutionsI don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore. I just can’t deal with the pressure.

Of course, I do review old goals and set new ones. At the beginning of 2015, I wanted to spend more time writing up some fiction stories I had living in my head and using my skills to help others.

I did some of that (not as much as I wanted; it’s never enough, really), but life never follows a plan.  It took me many years to realize that, and even more years to get used to the idea that it is really a good thing!

When it comes to setting goals, you may think I cheat a little. It was not too many years ago that I would write on January 1, “I will lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day,” or “I will write a novel by Thanksgiving.”

Oh, I still write my goals down. That’s one of the best ideas I ever tripped across. However, the nature of the goals has changed. They’re more like mini-goals.

Now it’s, “I’ll only eat sweets once or twice a week,” or “I’ll spend an hour a week writing fiction.”

This means I have a much longer list of goals since all these mini-goals eventually add up to major accomplishments. That also means I get to celebrate more successes.

The great thing about setting mini-goals instead of huge resolutions is they are easier to adapt to the curves life is forever throwing at me.

So, ditch the resolutions and opt for written mini-goals. If you do, I foresee many successes for you in 2016.

Writing Goals Makes Them Real

With all the convenience of electronic media, including the ability to record ideas on our “smart phones,” will writing survive?
I have no doubt it will. Writing is more than just a way to record information. The act of writing helps make ideas concrete.
Think about it. When you get ready to go grocery shopping, you make a list of what you need or what is on sale. It is written down. What happens when you go shopping without that list? If you’re like me, you end up buying a whole bunch of stuff you really don’t need and not buying the things you do need.
I’m a “lister.” I have pads of paper all over the house where I list things I need to buy and things I need to do. I jot down ideas I’d like to explore later. I exist on the edge of chaos, so lists are my best hope for keeping my life organized.
But writing is so much moreastronaut. It can take the ghost of idea and force a person to give it substance. Think about when you were a kid and you had to write an essay about what you wanted to be when you grew up. “I want to be an astronaut” is a great statement, but writing it down in essay form forces us to think about why that is what we want to be and how we could go about getting there.
It is no fluke that people who write down their goals (with steps to get there and deadlines to meet) are more successful. Writing them down prevents them from being pushed aside by other ideas and lost forever.
Ashley Feinstein’s Forbes article, “Why You Should Be Writing Down Your Goals,” does a great job of showing how putting goals in writing makes them concrete. By having them right there in front of you and breaking them down into manageable steps, you give yourself a path to follow.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, once written down, these ideas or goals are immutable. That’s what erasers and delete keys are for. Writing stuff helps us to decide if it fits in, where steps should go in the process, and whether it is what we really want to do.
Talking about ideas and goals is important, but it isn’t until we write them down that we make them real.