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New Goals for a New Year

Certain things have become synonymous with the New Year—fireworks, the ball dropping in Times Square, sharing a kiss at midnight and setting resolutions.

A resolution is defined as a “firm decision to do or not do something” and I hate them. I’m almost 47 years old and I cannot think of a single New Year’s resolution that I’ve ever kept. I haven’t even made it to the one-week mark. The thing about resolutions is they feel absolute, and it’s hard for me to be absolute about anything in my life. I resolve to stop eating junk food or exercise every day, but then I eat that first cookie or candy bar and I’ve already failed. So I stop trying.

Last year, I tried something new. At the beginning of January, when social media erupted with new posts about resolutions and goal setting, I set writing goals for myself. There were five of them and they were pretty broad and generic—finish this WIP, get this other WIP published, etc. Some of them were in my control and others weren’t. I put these goals out into the world and never thought about them again until a few weeks ago.

When social media again lit up with posts about goal setting, I remembered to check in and see how I did. Yay! I’d met three of my goals, but the other two had become irrelevant back in July following some discussions with my agent. So while I had some limited success, it wasn’t a helpful experience. It certainly hadn’t inspired or guided my actions throughout the year.

So I decided to give it another go, this time using a different approach. Going back to my previous career, I set SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based). For instance, I want to grow my social media presence, but instead of leaving my goal there, I was more specific. I want to grow my IG followers from 900 to 1500, blog twice a month, and send out a quarterly newsletter. Using these measureable goals, I can track my progress and hold myself more accountable for these specific actions.

I’ve set up a spreadsheet where I can record my monthly progress, and once a month, I’ll evaluate my goals to see if they’re still relevant.

This is an experiment for me and I don’t know if it will “work”, but I’m already feeling more productive and focused.

What about you? Do you believe in setting New Year’s resolutions or goals? Any tips for keeping on track?

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