Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kicking that Goal by Nola Passmore



In January, a lot of us make New Year’s Resolutions.  We’ll go to the gym, lose 20 kilos, learn French, and tutor children twice a week at the local refugee centre.  The problem is that by February, we’re watching reality TV and polishing off a tub of ice-cream. One reason is that we sometimes set the bar too high.  Then when we can’t meet our lofty goals, we give up.  One of my favourite newspaper columnists, Frances Whiting, has resolved this problem by publishing her “Remotely Achievable List” each year.  One of her goals for 2014 is to “learn how to write more interesting tweets/Facebook posts than ‘Homemade lasagna for dinner. Yum!'’”  Actually, that could be a lesson for a lot of us!

The other problem is setting the bar too low.  If we have a goal of reading four books this year, we’ll probably achieve it, but will that actually be of any benefit?  Well, I guess it would be of more benefit than not reading any books, but we certainly wouldn’t have stretched ourselves.  As Zig Ziglar has said, “if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”, but that’s probably not a success rate we’d want to brag about.

So how do we set worthwhile goals and stick to them?

  • First, we can commit our goals to prayer, asking God to show us what He would like us to work on and then asking for His help in achieving those things.
  • Second, aim for realistic goals that will stretch us, but aren’t beyond our reach. 
  • Third, if we share our goals with an accountability partner or trusted group, they can encourage us to keep on track.
  • Fourth, life happens.  If unexpected things occur during the year (e.g., illness or family issues), we need to be kind to ourselves and adjust goals where necessary.  It’s not about beating ourselves up if we don’t meet our objectives, but about staying in the race.

I haven’t quite finished setting my writing goals for this year, but I’ve made a start.  I’ve registered for a Month of Poetry challenge where we have to write a poem a day for the whole of January.  I’ve managed to keep up so far and I’m already seeing the benefits.  Not only is it fun, but by the end of the month I’ll have 31 poems and feedback that I can work on with a view to publication.  Another target is to finish the complete first draft of my novel.  I wrote about 15 000 words last year, but then stalled.  This year, I really want to keep the pages ticking away and I’m counting on my writing buddies to keep checking in on me. 

What about you?  Why not share your writing goals and we can encourage one another.

 
 
 
Nola Passmore is a freelance writer who has had more than 90 short pieces published in various magazines, journals, and anthologies (including true stories, devotions, poetry and short fiction). She has a passion for writing about what God has done in her life and encouraging others to do the same. (Some call it "nagging", but she calls it "encouragement").
 
 

 

14 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing Nola. I'm trying to set the course of my year through intentions and goals. I have goals and intend to complete them, but the overarching intention is the way I achieve them-with peace, joy, hope and faith. I'm still working out how to articulate it clearly, but it's a different way of looking at things for me.

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    1. Hi Elaine - That's a really interesting way of looking at it. Sometimes we can be really driven and not enjoy the journey along the way. Thanks for the reminder that the way we achieve goals is just as important.

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  2. The hardest goal for me is not in the writing which I love, but in the marketing which I hate. It seems more fruitful to simply blog, but it takes a lot of work to keep it alive. http://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Mike - That's so true. I guess in any job there are some things we like more than others, but it's harder to motivate ourselves for those less interesting (or more onerous) tasks. Good luck with the marketing. Blogging sounds like a good way to go.

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  3. Thanks, Nola--and I think your own goals sound excellent! I also really like your first point re committing our goals to prayer and asking God what he would want us to achieve this year. I think last year, I might have exceeded that a tad, with speaking 32 times, plus taking part in other book selling events and interviews! So right now, during my time of enforced rest with back trouble, I plan to listen to God really carefully and be a bit kinder to myself!

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    1. Hi Jo - Sorry to hear you're having back problems, though the resting part sounds good. I'm sure you blessed a lot of people at all of those speaking engagements, but it's okay to be kind to yourself. Mmm ... now I just need to listen to my own advice - LOL

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  4. Thanks for a thoughtful post Nola with some great advice. Another thing, perhaps, is to keep the goals specific or concrete. A goal to, say, "be a better person" is laudable - but hard to know when you have achieved it. I do like your first point (listening to God's goals for you) & 4th (life happens, be flexible). I don't make make New Year Resolutions anymore - more ongoing goals I want to reach but it does help to write them down along the way. As for MOP - it's fun, definitely a stretch - and, oh my gosh, what am I going to write a poem on today lol.

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    1. Hi Jeanette - That's a great point about keeping the goals concrete. Will add that to the list. That's why challenges like the Month of Poetry can help. Write a poem a day? Sure! I can do that! Though I was panicking yesterday. It's amazing what you can come up with though when you get in that flow of doing something every day. I'll let you into one of my secrets. Sshhh ... don't tell the others. I have an e-book of 366 poetry prompts and I've used some of them to inspire some of the poems. I'll look forward to today's instalment :)

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  5. Hi Nola,
    I applaud your resolutions. It sounds like you'll have something great to show at the end of them, and the poetry and novel may bless several others too. I always enjoy this time of year and have set a few.

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    1. Thanks Paula. It's good to remember that the writing isn't just for ourselves, but to bless others too. Your books have certainly done that. Any writing goals you can share?

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  6. I've decided to spend more time doing quick drafts of personal anecdotes and filing them away, also updating my journals more often. After all, it's all grist for the mill of 'real' writing.

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  7. That's a great idea Debbie. You'll never run out of ideas with all that material at your disposal.

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  8. Thanks, Nola for the reminder. However, I find I'm a daily goal person. I ask the Lord to help me achieve what I must/need to do for the day. And the only way I can plan for the day is by writing down the tasks the night before. If I don't write them down, I'll spend the whole night chewing over them...or worse, forget what I'm supposed to do.

    A yearly goal just doesn't work for me, which doesn't mean to say I don't have some good plans to work on. Another thing, like you advised "don't stress when things don't work out." That's takes some faith effort! I say to myself now, "calm down, the Lord has it all under control." Sometimes I need to do a juggling act with weekly radio programs that must be finished in order to record. Then keeping up with my novels...I usually have a couple going at the same time so planning is a must. (And housework??? Enough said.)

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  9. Thanks for that Rita. Daily goals sound like a good plan. Not everything works for everyone, so it sounds like you've come up with a good system. I'm a compulsive list writer too. For me it helps to have the bigger goals, but to then be able to break them down into bite-sized components. Sounds like you have a lot to juggle. Thanks for your feedback and may God continue to bless your juggling :)

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