I have a mate who continually reviews his progress in relation to personal and professional goals. Each month he sets himself targets and asks whether he achieved to a satisfactory level for the previous 30-odd days. At the year’s end, he analyses each month in turn before considering the year as a whole.
As a part-time author, my progress towards major goals can be painfully slow. After signing a contract, for instance, publication may still be up to a year away. Writing time tends to be crammed in between wage-work and other commitments … and there are days when I struggle to get 500 words written. That said, I reckon some public goals are in order for 2009 as, once I write them down, they are on the record for better or worse.
So, to kick off the new year here are some writing goals:
1. Get a contract for publication of Book 2.
2. Hammer out a plan and (hopefully) a complete draft for Book 3.
3. Make more time for writing (and reduce distractions/distractedness) in order to achieve #2.
4. Read more and watch less TV
5. Be more optimistic and less afraid.
The last point is inspired by things I’ve been reading recently. Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’ was a surf-centric, brilliant book for a beach holiday and a powerful exploration of how we feel most alive when we’re afraid. I know myself well enough to accept that fear regularly affects me, sometimes inspiring me to greater heights and sometimes holding me back. Fear of not measuring up to expectations (whether my own or others’) is a big one for me … but I also know that if I focus on what I might not do, I’m less likely to do anything. So my goal is about focusing on the positives that can come out of fear, rather than being crippled by potential negatives that usually don’t eventuate.
In relation to optimism, I like a comment by the founder of the online store Remo General Store that I read today. Remo Giuffre wrote in his 2008 Printed Thing how “chronic entrepreneurship” had hurt him and his family financially but he remained optimistic. He said: “Not only do I remember feeling optimistic but I also remember coming to the realisation that this feeling of optimism was probably more important than whatever was going to happen. A feeling of optimism about the future … was actually delivering us a very high quality of life in the present. The outcomes of our endeavours were actually irrelevant to the quality of the lives we were living.”
Optimism doesn’t always come naturally to me so I’m keen to lock it in as a goal. It means seeing the best in others and seeking the best in myself.