January was a wild ride!
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Whoa! 2012 PACKS A KICK!

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Thanks to Sherry Isaac’s sage counsel, February offers a new beginning for 2012.

That’s not to say January was a total bust, but I did NOT achieve all I had hoped. Great news! I don’t have to rip the goals to shreds and declare myself a doofus.

Okay. Doofus remains on the table.

As do the goals.

I must assess what I did achieve, hold myself accountable for goofing off unforeseen time-suckers, and unleash my GOAL GLEE for 2012.

My next door neighbor (in my imaginary world), my friend, writing buddy, boot scootin’ play pal, and fellow rodeo clown bull-rider (in my real world) returns with wisdom on goal setting for 2012.

Take it away, Sherry!

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Raised by Nancy Drew and Jane Marple, Alice Munro Short Story Award winner Sherry Isaac’s novels and short stories weave the common thread of everyday life, love and forgiveness into tales that transcend all things, including the grave. Find Sherry on the web, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and read her blog posts at Romance & Beyond.

STEP AWAY FROM THE JANUARY–IT MAY BE LOADED!

PART II

by Sherry Isaac

Welcome back. For those who missed PART I, you can read the post here.

In the Playground of Life, We All Have to Share

So why not share our goals?

Accountability keeps us honest. More important, meeting with peers who share a common goal allows us to share our victories and consider our failures.

I would be lost without my critique group. Every week, Carole, Sharon, Gloria and I touch base. We cheer each other as To-Dos become To-Dones.

Don’t tell them I said so, but at times, the only reason I complete a task is so that I don’t have to admit I’ve accomplished nothing that week!

Sharing goals with peers keeps my goals in front of me. Sharing the list keeps me challenged yet realistic. Too easy, someone will call me on it. Too hard, I can rely on these task-masters career coaches to slap me upside the head with a reality check.

Sharing also keeps me focused, so I’m less likely to switch gears and chase shiny baubles.

Baby Step the One-Liners

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Write a novel. Climb Mount Everest. Big goals.

Big goals deserve some space on the page. And some planning.

Even the adventurous spirit who, trusting fate, takes a vacation to a destination with the next available flight, knows he needs to start at the airport.

Without a plan, big goals lack direction. The job takes so little space on the page, less than a line, but to accomplish takes time, and a lot of steps.

Take the time to break the big goals down. Assign reasonable timelines.

True, you may find that your one-year goal to write a novel, or climb Everest, will take three years to become reality instead of one. That’s a total bummer, and so tempting to fall back on that unspecific one-liner: publish in one year.

Looks good on paper, right?

Wrong! Without a break down, the plan may never leave the paper and become reality. ‘Write a novel’ may end up looking good on your yearly list of goals for one year, two years, three, five.

Ten.

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In Three Years, I Will Be…

You guessed it. Three years older.

When I decided to go back to school at 26, a lot of friends said, “Sherry, that degree is going to take three years. You’ll be 29 in three years!”

Guess what? They were right.

Guess what else? I was going to be 29 in three years anyway.

The question was, would I be 29 with a degree, or just 29?

This year, I celebrate the 19th anniversary of my 29th birthday. Yes, that’s a fancy way of saying I’m old, but I’d rather be old than still 29, because that would mean I’ve been standing still for a really long time.

My joints lock easily these days. Standing still is not a good plan.

Get Your (Control) Freak On

Cinderella had it down. A dream is a wish your heart makes, but a goal is dream put into action.

Know when to take control, and when to relinquish it. Some goals, or at least, certain aspects, are our of our control.

Landing an agent, getting a promotion, are not impossible goals, but a good portion of meeting that goal is reliant on another person.

Consider a tweak to your wording.

Instead of Secure an agent, make a list of steps you can take to make this goal happen.

Research agents representing like authors in my genre. Take an online course in synopsis writing. Submit manuscript for peer-critique. Hire an editor. Develop concise tag line. Build platform. Study query letters. Make sure that manuscript is the best dang manuscript you can write.

Instead of Get a Promotion, consider a different list of goals. Cross-train with others in your department. Use training budget to take software skills to next level. Get on the recycling committee.

Does this look like an exercise in baby-stepping? You bet your booties it does.

Adding specificity to the goal makes it clearer. And it makes you think outside the list.

Lose the Chisel

A follower on Twitter asks you to post on her blog? Your network could benefit from a workshop on a skill you excel at.  Opportunities arise when we least expect them.

Focus is good. Keeping the goal list handy, sharing our progress, keeps us on track. A goal should not be abandoned just because the task has become difficult, inconvenient, or has lost its WOW factor.

That doesn’t mean goals should never change. Goals can be tweaked, adapted, and even abandoned when the time commitment or outcome no longer make sense. Be rigid, and you may lose out on awesome opportunities.

Set Goals to Enrich the Everyday

Life is full of regrets.

I wish I’d taken my kids to Disney. I wish I learned to speak Spanish. I always wanted to ski but now I’m too old.

Putting the good things in life on your list might sound like stifling spontaneity, but some things are too important to leave to chance.

Without a plan, another summer could slip by without a trip to the beach, another winter without learning to ski, another child grown without taking a family vacation.

Fun stuff on the list may be the key to keeping that list handy and the goals in sight. Goals are meant to enrich our lives, and what better way to enrich your life then to take time out for the things, and the people, who matter most?

Review. Often

Life can be overwhelming, and making a list of our plans can make life seem even more daunting. Often, we look at the list and see the item(s) that didn’t get checked off and don’t think about why.

Looking back at our goals and ticking off tasks can make us feel good as we go along, but looking back can also serve as an ego boost when we feel stuck.

Tracking accomplishments helps keep our focus on the positive: what we’ve done, rather than what we have left undone, so keep track of accomplishments as well as goals. For some, this may mean making a separate list.

An Accomplishment List

Oh, no. Another list.

Hear me out. Listing accomplishments is acknowledgement for a job well done. That list can also help sculpt our goals moving forward. Did we set too many goals? Did we set too few? Too hard, too easy? Too stringent, too vague?

When we feel beat up about a task left untouched, a list of accomplishments can point out an opportunity taken advantage of. That opportunity may mean you made an executive decision to table that undone item.

That’s not making excuses. That’s learning, that’s being flexible, that’s making choices, And, that’s life.

Y’all Come Back Now

Rewind, January 2010, me, a new dust particle in Margie Lawson’s galaxy. Part of Margie’s lecture, Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, included goal-setting.

Goal-setting is an art form and a skill, every bit as legitimate as painting a canvas in oils,  building a rocket ship, rearing a child. It takes practice!

As stated in Part I, I’m no goal-setting guru. I’m still little more than that dust particle I started out as two years ago. To prove it, I’ll expose my goal-setting guffaws of 2010. In other words, rip my clever goals to shreds.

WOOT! Almost forgot. Critiquing is also an art form, and even self-critiquing myst be handled with finesse. To be fair, a few of those goals, whether by accident or design, were met. On February 15, we’ll look at how, and why, some goals were actualized, while others failed, and how, with a little more foresight, more of the goals I set two years ago would have met with success.

Back to Sharing

On Wednesday, Gloria and I asked you to share one goal from your list. Today, we urge you to revel in an accomplishment.

Happy 2012 to all!

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