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!
- 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.