New Year's resolutions. They are made with the best of intentions, but rarely survive into February or beyond. There are the cliché resolutions: lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, save more money, get more organized, etc. One of my recurring resolutions has been to write more. Despite this yearly resolution, it was only this year that I started to take my writing more seriously and devote more time to it. Was it simply the resolution that finally stuck? Not quite. Rather, I finally decided to put some serious intention and action behind that resolution.
Most resolutions have a certain vagueness to them: write more, be more organized. These resolutions have no exact parameters, have no specific action steps, no deadlines, no means of evaluating the success or failure in fulfilling them to any specific metric. The pressure to fulfill these resolutions is lessened because they outline intention, nothing more.
Many people are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. model for goal setting, but if you aren't, it can be succinctly explained as setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Some people choose to replace "Achievable" with "Action-Oriented" or to replace "Relevant" with "Realistic," but you get the gist of it. Following this model, "Write more" can become something like "Complete a 70,000-word first draft on a novel within six months." This goal is specific, you are completing a novel, not a short story or novella, and you are only completing first draft. The goal has a specific and measurable word count to use as a metric to measure success. The goal is attainable, as it is entirely possible to write 70,000 words in six months. For a writer, this goal is certainly worthwhile and relevant to other goals. Finally, this goal offers a specific deadline for completion, in this case it is six months.
Setting these kinds of actionable goals doesn't just require intention, but that the goal be well thought out and realistic too. Resolutions hope that the New Year will be better; goals plan to make the New Year better. So, this year, I'm trying to set a few goals that will move me closer to my long-term goal of being a published writer. I've already shared my first (and biggest) 2018 goal above: writing a 70,000-word novel draft by the beginning of July.
Here's to making 2018 the year that you reach your goals! If you are setting goals instead of resolutions, tell me in the comments below. Happy goal setting!