30 December 2011

Goals and Strategies

The week between Christmas and New Year is a funny space of time.  Here in New Zealand it's summer and many people are on holiday through to the first or second week in January.  It's also the time we look back at the year and take stock for the year ahead.  We make resolutions as if our life will suddenly change.
Realistically it doesn't.  We wake up on 1st January much the same person we were the day before. 
I'm not putting down the idea of goals and New Year resolutions, but to make them work we need to be specific, and put some strategies in place for reaching our goals - and hence changing our life!
Last year was the first time I'd ever thought seriously about goals that were specific to what I wanted to achieve and written them down, rather than some half-hearted ideas about getting fitter and writing more.  So how did it go?
I kept to my goal for work on the final draft of Lives Interrupted, though I under-estimated the time it would take me, and while working on the manuscript I changed my mind about sending it to agents and publishers again, and decided I would self-publish.
With that in mind I revised my plans and decided to have the manuscript edited and a cover designed, and then to format it ready for print and e-publishing in October.  That ultimately turned into early November, but I was happy with that.
There have been a few blips in the blog postings, but mostly I have kept to my goal of posting twice a week.
I didn't make any headway on my goal to finish the first draft of my other work in progress, and I only entered two competitions this year rather than the four I had planned.  As for the articles I was going to submit - I still have one day left!!
I've learned a few things through the year from my goal setting experience.  My number one goal was to finish and publish Lives Interrupted, and because it was so important to me I put strategies in place to help me achieve it.  Being specific about how long and often I would write was very helpful, and it also meant I was treating my writing as a career rather than a hobby.  This included making writing a priority, rather than slotting it in after everything else had been done, and to do that consistently rather than just for a few weeks and then not do any writing for long periods.  
Overall I'm happy with where I am, though obviously there's heaps of room for improvement, such as articles to write, competitions to enter, and an unfinished manuscript to work on!
So what's the plan for 2012 and how to make it work?
In looking through my goals for last year, the ones I was most successful in achieving were specific and had measurable elements, and strategies to make them work. 
Originally I thought the goals of entering four competitions and writing two articles for magazines were reasonable because they had numbers attached to them, but they would have been better if I'd come up with ideas for the articles when setting the goals and a timeframe for writing them, and also maybe deciding ahead of time which competitions I was going to target.
So on that note I'll go and work on some goals and strategies for a successful 2012.

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