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Successful Goals Must Be Fluid

I returned to the office on Monday the 4th refreshed and excited to begin the new year. One of my first tasks was to remove the list of 2015 goals I keep taped to my desk and replace it with my 2016 goals.

First, I was thrilled to see the success I had in 2015. Most of my goals were achieved. I had a really incredible year. A few that weren’t, or could still use some fine-tuning, were moved to my 2016 list and a few were simply dumped, because things have changed and I just don’t feel they are necessary to achieve my ultimate goals.

I did however think that maybe I hadn’t pushed myself enough (even though one goal wasn’t achieved until December) and determined to give myself even bigger goals in 2016.

Since goals have been on my mind, I was wondering if others are having the same thoughts this time of year and, after opening my query inbox, decided that many are. Some to their detriment.

The thing about goals is they have to be fluid. In one case, I wrote down two different goals, both with the idea of achieving the one. In this case I achieved one without the other. Lucky me, this meant I could dump an entire goal. In another case, I realized I had been a little too over-zealous and the idea that I could achieve that goal (getting a book published for example) in one year was nearly impossible. That goal was revised and added to my 2016 list. Instead of looking at it as a failure though, I looked at the steps I had taken to achieve it and saw it as a win. I’m just that much closer.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’m working to catch up is the number of people who, it seems to me, are determined to finish goals no matter the outcome. As I go through my queries and see the vast number that arrived between December 16 and the end of the year I can’t help but wonder how many of those people had “query an agent” on their list of goals and felt the need to get it done even if the query wasn’t polished or the work not ready. I’ve seen queries with blatant grammatical errors, incorrect query format and for incomplete books.

Setting goals is important and achieving them is gratifying, but achieving them at the risk of jeopardizing your ultimate goal is not an achievement.

 

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8 comments

  1. I don’t think a person can force genuine and lasting success. It has to develop slowly, and when the time is right…it magically appears. But goals to get healthy and fit…can be forced…..in my opinion.

    1. I think you even need to be ready to change fitness goals. Injuries, changes in interest, learning more about what’s best for your body can all make change necessary.

  2. A goal does not define the manner in which it is achieved. Fluid is correct. As Bruce Lee famously said, “Be water, my friend.”

  3. I agree.

    At the beginning of 2015 I set some goals for myself. Some were achieved, some were not, and others changed. At the end of the year I was surprised at how things had morphed over those twelve months.

    Goal – Up my walk to two miles a day. I did so, but the extra time and activity wound up hurting more than it helped. I went back to one mile and am content.

    Goal – Take a mosaic class I’d been wanting to do for a very long time. Challenge: it was the same weekend as a conference in which my book was up for an award. Decision: mosaic class, and with that decision I found a balance that helps me with my writing as well. Also, I’m apparently very good at making mosaics.

    Goal – To take off November and December and focus on the holidays. But when that time came all I wanted to do was continue working on my writing and do what was necessary to see the next book came out in a timely fashion. I did so, but unfortunately the ball that was the holidays had already started rolling. I couldn’t stop it. So I wound up having to do all things and stressed myself out as a result.

    This year I’ve created a spreadsheet that helps me monitor my progress over the course of the year. Because at the end of the year I always feel like I haven’t done much…but I have. Items monitored are miles walked, minutes exercise, words written, books worked on, books released, weight, and measurements. My goal for 2016 is to keep walking my path, keep listening to my instincts, and keep aware of opportunities that might arise.

  4. I only had 2 goals for 2015,
    To write the book I had been playing with.

    I have done that, it isn’t polished or perfect, yet, but it is written. I also took a few classes, joined RWA, built a website and starting stalking the Bookends blog. I call that a win

    My other goal was to accept and live with my disabilities. That’s more of a work in progress. I still do to much in my ‘good’ times then the ‘bad’ times are worse. I’ve even lectured myself about it. But I get writing or worse researching and that’s me lost until I hurt or one of the kids says something about blood.

  5. I’m a firm practitioner of goals, although my writing goals are not always written. Hum. I will say I know what I intended to accomplish in 2015 and met those goals. Now, what I want to accomplish in 2016 has dates hardcoded (in my mind). So far, but then it is only the 12th, I’m on point. Maybe I should follow Caitlyn’s practice, and codify and track them with a spreadsheet. Thanks, that’s a great idea.

  6. Thanks to a bunch of things out of my control my 2015 goals went out the window (they really were *very* fluid). But I made little ones instead. I’d write 1 goal on a piece of paper next to my computer and once I’d achieved that wrote another. It got me through the year.

    The goal stuck on the wall at the moment is to have a writing routine in place by the end of February. Being in Oz it’s summer holidays so a combination of the Barbarians being home and starting a new job mean that goal can’t happen just yet.

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