I’ve been thinking a lot about goal-setting lately. Every month, I do a little Monthly Review (inspired by this method from ZenHabits), where I go back and look at how things went that month in some important areas of my life. For me, these important areas are:
- Spiritual Life
And then I end with a little “Hopes for Next Month” section, where I jot down a few things that I want to think on or work on for the next month.
I can’t tell you how invigorating and inspiring this practice has been. I only started in January 2016, but it’s something I don’t think I’d ever give up now.
We spend so much of our lives in the thick of things, so busy getting everything done that we straight forget what we are actually doing in this big game of life. We only see the immediate to-dos looming over our next few days and weeks, and the future is a blurry mess of hopes. Usually, the past is even blurrier—I know I’m so guilty of glossing over successes and moving on to the next thing right away!
This is so especially true of us creative types who work for ourselves or have a side hustle we want to develop. There’s no boss that’s going to sit you down at the end of the year and grade your performance. (Believe it or not, I actually miss the year-end reviews from my previous corporate life!) And there’s no time allotted for you to set goals for next year and to plan your long-term career trajectory. There’s also no bonus to reward you for all those times you pushed through to meet a goal. It’s all on you.
That’s why you need to take goal-setting time for yourself.
No one’s going to come along and tap you on the shoulder incessantly until you schedule in that time. (I’m tempted to do that, but consider this your official nagging from your local literary agent on the subject!)
But really, I can’t stress enough how important this is for writers, bloggers, everyone. If you’re involved in any creative endeavor whatsoever, even if it’s just a side project, then you really owe it to yourself to be intentional about how you spend your time.
And you absolutely owe it to yourself to celebrate your accomplishments in 2016 and get excited for the adventures of 2017.
Your creative life will feel so much richer and more meaningful if you can see the big picture, if you can be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses, and if you can be intentional about what you want to accomplish and what you don’t.
That’s just another reason to love these last quiet weeks of the year. At least in publishing, things are a little slower, more people are out of the office, and there’s more time to do big-picture planning.
The problem is: most of us have no idea how to set goals the right way. (And yes, there is definitely a right way.) Yet, as we all know, goals are high-stakes. We feel awful about ourselves when we don’t meet our goals, and we feel amazing when we crush them. So setting them at all becomes a highly emotional process. How do we know our goals aren’t too easy? How do we know they’re unrealistic? How many goals should we be setting? And the big one: how in the heck are we supposed to put a plan in place to accomplish those goals? We all know it’s not as easy as making a list of things we’d like to do.
The truth is: no one is born knowing these things. Just because you’ve successfully knocked off goals in the past doesn’t mean 2017 won’t throw you some curve balls. Just because you’ve missed some goals in the past doesn’t mean 2017 won’t be the year you hit it out of the park.
But as I talked about here, books and the experts who write them pull us off the isolated island of our own experience and immerse us in the stream of collective learning. There’s no reason we have to struggle on our own when there are hundreds of resources out there for learning important life skills. And you betchya that goal-setting should be one of them.
So this year, I highly recommend making “Set up a system for making and meeting goals” one of your goals.
Yes, a goal about goals. It’s weird. But it’ll be fun to challenge yourself to learn a new goal-setting process, and it’s going to lay the foundation for many, many years of accomplishments.
Personally, I’m going to take all the expert help I can get this year and put a chunk of my continuing education budget (i.e. my book budget) into Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever class. I’ve been a huge fan of all things Hyatt for many years (he was the former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers, for anyone who doesn’t know him), and he builds better resources for advancing your career and creative life than anyone out there.
Michael kicked things off this week with a LifeScore Assessment, which I found really fascinating. It only takes a few minutes, it’s free, and it’s a great way to see where you are now. Take a few extra minutes to read through all 4 options for each of the areas of life—I think it’ll inspire you to let go of complacency in 2017.
My score was a 76, but I’d love to hear what you got! Take it here for free.
And if you’re interested in signing up for his class with me, you can read more about it here. I won’t go yadda yadda about all you could learn in it, but I do think it’s one of the few online classes that will give you a strong return on your investment. Especially since it teaches you a process you can apply to anything, rather than a very niche skill.
He’s closing to new students on December 15th so that the whole class can go through the program together, but he’s running an early bird discount now until this Thursday. So save some money and go for it now, if you feel like it’s right for you!
What I’m Reading
How to Smartly Evaluate a Small Publisher (Jane Friedman): I’ve worked at small, medium, and Big 5 publishers, and I’ve seen how drastically the publishing experience can vary based on what kind of house you’re with. Here are some very smart questions to ask when deciding whether to sign with a smaller house.
The Making of a Cookbook (Chandra Ram for Plate): This is a fantastic piece, with deep detail, about how the team behind the Fat Rice restaurant got their cookbook deal then created and launched The Adventures of Fat Rice.
5 Bookish Christmas Eve Traditions to Start This Year (Kate Scott for BookRiot): My favorite holiday tradition? Spend alllllll of Christmas day reading a book. Requires little set-up and allows for maximum mid-chapter snacking!
So Many Ways to Organize a Cookbook (Dianne Jacob): On the art of creating a cookbook table of contents!
The Miracle of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh): I loved this conversation between Krista Tippett and Thich Nhat Hanh on the On Being podcast so deeply that I immediately put The Miracle of Mindfulness, How to Relax, and The Long Road Turns to Joy on my reading list. I’ve been so enjoying dipping into How to Relax and am already planning on gifting it to a few people this season, but I think The Miracle of Mindfulness is the best place to start for someone new to mindfulness.
What We’re Eating
Another week on the road for me! Dinner prospects are bleak. (Luckily, I usually have editor or author lunches booked, so at least I get one wonderful meal a day.)
Monday: We had our night of volunteering with The Reading Connection, so we ate the lentil soup I had made Sunday night. This was no hardship at all. I think lentil soup is one of the most perfect foods. My recipe involves dumping a lot of spices in the pot and tasting over and over until it’s just how I like it.
Tuesday: I’m up in NYC, so tortilla de patata with my grandma it is!
Thursday: Send help.
Friday: Back home to homemade pizza and beer. Amen.
(By the way, I partnered with the Hyatt team to spread the word about his class, but only because I’d buy it myself!)