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Another auld lang syne (2014 into 2015) – My goals for the new year

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:

  1. Write 500 words per day 4-5 times per week.
  2. Read 50 books.
  3. 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

Writing Goals

2014

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. :(

2015

This year, I have a different goal, and a plan for achieving it.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Reading Goals

2014

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.

2015

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

2014

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. :(

2015

Again, I’m going to be more specific with my goals than I was last year.

  1. Cardio at least 3 times per week – walking, running, aerobics, etc.
  2. Strength and core at least 3 times per week – yoga, weights, any kind of strength or isometric exercise
  3. Eat lots ofย  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. :)

Other Goals

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…

  1. Art and Photography – I have ideas about a possible Etsy shop. I need to figure out how to make those ideas a reality
  2. Music – I need to set a schedule to be more intentional about vocal and instrumental practice, and creating my own music.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Overall

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.

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Comments

4 Responses to “Another auld lang syne (2014 into 2015) – My goals for the new year”

  1. Dan Allen says:

    Amy, I like what you wrote about your goals and the way you keep account of them.

    I always have been driven, but I burned out from failure. I had so much success and so many advantages handed to me growing up, I thought success was basically guaranteed for me. I knew not everybody had it like that, and it turned out I didn’t either.

    When it got to point that I honestly saw no good reason to stay alive and was bummed out to discover I wasn’t going to put an end to it. Having to stay in this place was my idea of Hell.

    In the hospital, the one for your mind, one of the few things they made us do was write goals for each day. We were supposed to write three, but usually I’d write one, like “fuck you.” I would say, “I have been meeting goals all my life and look where it’s got me!” I was beyond angry, to a zone of bitterness that was my reason for being in the hospital.

    Along the way, I met Ray, who had recovered from problems like mine. He knew the truth of about how to get better and he told me, “you have to have goals.” He said something like what you did, about how they are not there to beat ourselves up with but … I can’t remember how he said it but the point was you really don’t have to do much but you have do some of the goals, at least go after them. I could not see it, but I knew Ray was telling me facts of life.

    In school, years were devoted to learning chemistry. All the chemistry I remember would fit in a small pamphlet. I met a “Teach of the Year” in a state I lived in, who taguth the exactly chemistry that had been such a devotion in my life. When I asked what the point was of all that chemistry, she got an F from me. It was self-rationalizing bull. She removed any doubt I had, the time would have been hugely more valuable put into almost anything. I’d say goals is a hugely more valuable topic than chemistry, exceopt fo9r maybe .1% of the population. Goals are as important to us as air, because we can’t live without them.

    Taking a step back, looking at your work on goals, well, Amy, we are looking at A+ work there. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your life the way you do. You are so awesome, you totally blow me away. I am not worthy.

    So, on that note, I hereby set my first goal for 2015: I am going to be more worthy than last year, to be working with you.

    • Amy says:

      Wow, thanks Dan. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer, but drive is an issue for me. I guess it’s all about finding a balance – not staying stagnant, but also not over-commiting and burning out.

      It’s been a privilege to get to know you. Maybe we can be inspiration for each other this year. :)

  2. Dan Allen says:

    Co-inspirational sounds good to me. If you had not said it, I never would have thought drive is a problem for you. Are you sure you are not driving hard as much as or more than most people, but you think you are slacking due to not being on hottest possible point 24×7? In other words, might you have unrealistic expectations of how much any soul can do?

    • Amy says:

      Maybe drive isn’t quite the right word. Productive though, that might fit better. I’m very easily distracted – my focus can escape very quickly, especially if I really need to be giving my attention to something that’s difficult, emotionally charged, or “big picture” important. I can spend (waste?) hours on tedium and unimportant details, and completely lose track of the bigger, more important thing I should be working on.

      This quirk makes me very useful when it comes to tracking down user names in a database. But it’s not so good for actually planning, executing, and completing big, long-term projects. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      There’s no doubt in my mind that if I was 10-years-old today, I would rapidly be diagnosed with ADD and put on medication. But since I’m not 10, I’ve had more than a few years to figure out how to cope with my distractibility. In other words, I fake it pretty well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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