Like so many of us, I’m looking back on 2016 and making plans for 2017. I even had trouble falling asleep last night because all the things I’d meant to do but didn’t kept prancing through my brain. Not sure why they chose last night to gang up on me. I guess it’s a January thing. Of course, it’s not like I was going to leap out of bed at 2 a.m. and get them all done!
This morning, I made a list of goals that fell by the wayside last year. Some of them clearly fell through because it just wasn’t time for them or a better thing took their place. No sense beating myself up over those items, right? sigh…
I noticed a surprising theme to my failures
However, I noticed something different about several failed projects: They didn’t get done because I was waiting for someone else in one degree or another. I didn’t write up a couple blog posts, for instance, because I kept waiting for an editor to get back to me. I thought they would end up being published in her magazine… but from what I can see now, it’s either gone under or is on a publishing hiatus. I should have just posted something here first, then waited to see what she would publish. Oh, well!
Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right
As I lay in bed berating myself for everything I’d not completed in 2016, I suddenly remembered a line from Ralph Waldo Emerson, in which he writes, “Finish each day and be done with it.” I couldn’t remember the rest of it, but that’s where Google comes in.
I think good ole Ralphy boy had it right! In fact, I’d say you could just as easily turn that into “finish each year and be done with it,” too. However, I don’t take Emerson’s words to mean that we should just slam the door on yesterday. It’s important to take a good look at the past before moving forward.
For instance, I’m really glad I took time to make a list of last year’s failed projects, because I saw a common denominator. Hopefully I’ve learned from that. It certainly makes me feel more positive about moving forward. If I hadn’t taken the time to look back, I’d still be feeling vaguely guilty and anxious. Instead, I feel like I’ve identified a weak spot that I can monitor in 2017.
Free Goal Setting Guide for Creatives
Planning your writing year and making creative goals can be intimidating – but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, there’s a woman in my online writing support group named Annette Gendler, who created a free workbook that makes assessing your writing progress and creating solid goals an easy to follow process.
I downloaded Annette’s free goal setting guide last year and really enjoyed it. If you’d like to check it out for yourself, follow this link: Free Artist and Writers Planning Guide.
Questions for goal setting
In addition to the questions that Annette asks in her guidebook, I added a few of my own:
What’s your typical goal setting process?
Did you make any writing goals for 2016?
Did you write them down?
How long do you spend making goals?
How often do you check in with your progress?
Did you have any creative disappointments in 2016? What did you learn from these ‘failures’?
Do you keep your goals private or make them public? Does this help or hinder you in any way?
How did you sabotage your writing in 2016? How can you avoid this in 2017?
How did you nurture your writing in 2016? How can you do more of this into 2017?
Write ’em down and tuck ’em away
You don’t have to agonize over all these questions. But if you want to get the most out of this process, I do suggest writing down your answers. Personally, I use Evernote to keep track of mine. This makes it super easy to find my answers when it’s time to check in on my progress.
Still tweaking my goals
I’m still getting clear about my goals for 2017, but after doing #NaNoWriMo this year, I realized that a certain amount of public accountability helps keep me on track. That’s why I’ve decided to start doing weekly #ROW80 check ins again. I’ll aim for every Wednesday. Guess I’m early this week!
However you found me, I hope you’ll say hi! :) And if you leave a link to your blog, I’ll drop by and see what you’ve got cooking for 2017.
Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”
Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.