You know how it is. The new year rolls around and the pressure to make goals for the new year mounts, but what do we really know about making achievable goals for ourselves?
As a teacher, I spent 34 years writing goals and objectives for my students according to the district curriculum and national standards. I wrote what I wanted my students to be able to do. What I didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to transfer and adapt that task and skill to writing yearly goals for myself.
The most important thing I thought I lacked was a set of standards, but after being away from the educational scene for seven years, I realized I wasn’t sure what a standard actually was. Enter dictionary. com as both a dictionary and a Thesaurus.
A standard, according to dictionary.com, is 1) “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model,” 2) “an object that is regarded as the usual or most common size or form of its kind,” 3) “a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment:,” 4) “an average or normal requirement, quality, quantity, level, grade, etc.”
That now frustrated me. I had no model. I wanted to be more than common. I was planning on judging and comparing myself to myself.
So I ventured to search synonyms for “standards” and search “common core English language arts standards” to refresh my memory regarding standards. I was amazed at what I found. The synonyms for “standards” gives words in categories such as ethics, morality, and religion; but the “common core” gave me concepts that students will be able to write, produce, develop, and use.
None of this did me any good.
Time to forget standards and common core that had been drilled into my being as the way that we needed to write goals.
I needed categories to drive me to progress with my writing. I needed to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in the next 12 months. It wasn’t to compare myself to others but to push myself to progress as a writer.
Categories for my writing (Yes, I did this with my personal life as well.)
In looking at these categories, I needed to figure out what I wanted to accomplish over the next 12 months. I like the term “accomplish” rather than “goal” because it seems to propel me forward. An accomplishment gives me a feeling of gratification, but a goal seems intangible.
Although I don’t like the term “blogger,” I need to publish consistently and build a library of articles in both my blogs.
As a writer on Medium.com, I need to publish consistently articles that don’t fit in either this blog (Ink & Keyboard) or Woman-strong!
I plan (not want) to complete a rough draft for a novel each quarter of 2022. That means I will have 4 novels in their roughest form by December 31, 2022.
After completing a master’s degree program in the educational field and talking with several university counselors about an MFA in Creative Writing, I realized that putting together my own personal, home-schooled MFA in Creative Writing would give me more of what I needed. So one of my categories is my DIY MFA in Creative Writing.
I want to read a wide variety of authors in a wide variet of genres.
Another category I choose was to seek opportunities to publish my writing.
Finally, I need to learn more about the business, marketing, and financial side of writing.
There we go. Five categories and some things I want to accomplish before the end of the year.
Now It’s Your Turn
If you are just starting out in your writing venture, you may want to keep your categories to three or fewer. If I was starting out, I would choose WRITE, LEARN, and READ.
Next, figure out at least one thing you want to accomplish under each category.
WRITE: Write for 15 minutes each and every day OR write 500 words each and every day.
LEARN: Read at least one book on the craft of writing each month.
READ: Read a novel each month.
Finally, break each category into a number of steps that you think it will take in order to accomplish that goal. (Yes, I said goal because in its true essence, it is a goal, but as you create the list asking yourself what you want to accomplish gives you more direction than if you ask what is your goal.)