Posted By Amy on January 1, 2015
Happy new year, everybody.
Here I am on January 1, 2015, and I’m finally checking in on the goals I declared for myself last year.
In short, those goals were:
- Write 500 words per day 4-5 times per week.
- Read 50 books.
- Keep up with my health pursuits.
The bad news is, I didn’t meet any of those goals.
The good news is, I didn’t fail at my goals.
How is that possible? I’m glad you asked. Unlike “resolutions”, goals are not a toggle switch. They’re more like the measuring marks on the door at 7-11. Goals are set so you have a means of measuring your progress, not to give you something to beat yourself up with if you don’t quite get there.
So, without further ado, here’s the results of last year’s goals, and the related goals I’m setting for 2015
I didn’t come close to writing 500 words per day. To be honest, I didn’t even really track my writing much after about the second week of January. I was still writing, but not as regularly as I’d intended. And I didn’t get anywhere close to the amount of fiction written that I’d hoped.
And that’s really the problem. That goal was based on hope rather than a real plan to write. That goal was more like a resolution – a pie-in-the-sky idea of what you think you want to do with no actual plan for how you mean to accomplish it. Not good.
This year, I have a different goal, and a plan for achieving it.
- Publish something every month (at least 12 publications) – most of these will probably be short stories or flash fiction anthologies, but I also intend to be working on some longer-format fiction, and probably some non-fiction too.
- Blog weekly – I have this blog, plus ElizabethMcCleary.com, and both have been too idle this year. I intend to post at least once a week on each of my blogs in 2015. If I know in advance that I won’t be available, I will need to plan my posts in advance. This also means I need to develop more of a vision for my sites to help me develop more of a structured plan for posts. Sounds like work, but I think it will be worth the effort.
I actually did better than I thought in this area. I’d hoped to read 50 books (there’s that hope thinking again – it’s good to be hopeful… it’s better to plan). I didn’t quite make it to 50, but I did read 44 books this year, and that’s not bad. Not all of them were full-length novels, and several were audio books that I listened to, but I knew that would be the case when I started.
I counted anthologies as a single work. If I’d broken out the individual stories, I would have been well over my 50, but I think that would have been cheating. Short fiction (short stories, novelettes, and novellas) that was packaged as stand-alone work counted for itself.
I didn’t read as much non-fiction as I thought I would – only 4 books on writing and personal development, and none that were history or biography. If I mean to do better next year, I definitely need to be more intentional about adding that in.
Most of what I read was either speculative fiction or mystery. That’s mostly what I’ve read since High School, so no big surprise there. Some of what I read was aimed at young adult and middle grade audiences, but that’s mostly about style.
I’m going to set more specific goals for 2015 in hopes of bettering my chances of meeting them.
- Novels – I will read 36 full-length novels this year. That’s 3 per month. I’ll count Y/A fiction if it meets the definition of a novel (40,000 words or more).
- Short fiction – I will read at least 50 works of short fiction this year. If I read an anthology, each story will count as a separate item of short fiction, unless it’s clear that the stories are all related and more like a “serial novel”. You don’t come across serial novels much anymore – but I know a few authors who publish them on their websites, so the possibility exists. (For those who don’t know what a serial novel is, think about Stephen King’s The Green Mile. I actually purchased it as a serial novel when he wrote it. I think it was 5 volumes. Man, I wish I still had those books – I bet first run serials of that iconic story would be worth something to collectors these days. … but I digress …) Anyway, short fiction is any discreet story under 40,000 words. I will include flash fiction (under 500 to ~1500 words) in that count, but not micro fiction (under 100 words).
- Non-fiction – I will read at least 12 non-fiction books this year. Some of those will be Personal Deveopment books, and some will be Craft (writing craft that is) books. While I’m not against including History or Biography in there, I read it so infrequently that I’m not actually setting a goal for that. I’m not ruling it out, but it’s not officially part of my plan.
In addition to doubling my reading goal from last years (48 books and 50 short works), I’m also going to improve my tracking. I didn’t make note of when I read things last year. And while I rated things on a scale of 1-10, I didn’t actually write many reviews. This year I want to write at least 1 review every month. Those will probably be mostly fiction reviews, but who knows.
Health and Fitness Goals
I did pretty well, actually for about the first half of 2014. I was exercising regularly. I was eating healthy most of the time. I’d lost some weight, and I was feeling pretty good.
But, alas, at some point I have myself “permission” to put all that on hold. Keeping up with exercise and good eating habits is hard when you travel as much as I did last year. Still, I was trying. But since probably the end of October I’ve been pretty much completely off the bandwagon, and it shows. I didn’t lose all the progress I’d made, but I have gone backwards a bit.
Interestingly, it looks like the last 2 months of 2014 were a rough parallel to the last couple of months of 2013. October 31 seems to mark the beginning of garbage-in season for me, and the inevitable result is garbage-out.
Again, I’m going to be more specific with my goals than I was last year.
- Cardio at least 3 times per week – walking, running, aerobics, etc.
- Strength and core at least 3 times per week – yoga, weights, any kind of strength or isometric exercise
- Eat lots of lean meats and fresh veggies, and limit white carbs, refined sugar, wheat, dairy, and processed foods – I’m not saying that I am going full-on health-food-junkie, but I have noticed that when I eat a lower carb style diet, I feel better. When I eat wheat, dairy, and garbage, I feel bloated and run-down.
Tracking the exercise is pretty easy. Tracking foods isn’t hard either. My Fitness Pal and Runkeeper will be by friend again this year. BUT – I also need to figure out a way to track my “cheats”. Maybe I need to reward myself any time I go 5 days without processed foods or something. I’ll have to think about it. If I come up with a good plan, I’ll let you know.
I don’t have a clear plan yet for some of the other things I want to accomplish this year. So my initial goal is to create a plan! But here are some of the areas that I’m hoping to explore more…
- Art and Photography – I have ideas about a possible Etsy shop. I need to figure out how to make those ideas a reality
- Music – I need to set a schedule to be more intentional about vocal and instrumental practice, and creating my own music.
- Creativity coaching – again, I don’t know really what this will look like, but I believe everyone is creative and I want to help people find their personal brand of creativity. I have a blog about creativity, but it’s not quite ready for prime time yet. I’ll post more about it here when I figure out what that is going to look like
- Relationships – I am a natural introvert. It’s easy for me to shrug off spending time with even the people I’m closest to. This is unacceptable. I want to be more intentional about connecting with family members, close friends, and acquaintances. I don’t really know how to bullet-list that though.
- Motivation, Focus, and Followthrough – these have always been tough for me. I always say I’m turning over a new leaf, and often it doesn’t come to fruition. I’m hopeful that the plans I’ve already set up for myself, and the ones I’ll be developing over the coming weeks and months will help me feel more productive and keep my motivation high.
I think it’s pretty clear that my overarching goal is to be more focused and intentional this year, in every area. I expect to see big changes in 2015, but the only way I’ll really get there is to do what I set out to do, and keep track of how my behavior is stacking up against my goals. I’m putting a lot on my plate this year, but it won’t be too much if I stay focused on my goals. That means that just like I need to limit the junk in my diet, I need to limit the junk I consume elsewhere. TV has moved way down my priority list already. But I let social media and iPhone games eat up way too much of my time.
So, my final goal for 2015 – monthly check-ins on how I’m doing with my goals. If I commit to doing that in public, y’all can help keep me accountable. And I know some of you are brutal taskmasters, so I really want to keep on top of my goals!
Wish me luck! And let me know what goals you’re setting this year so I can help you too.