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WELCOME BACK to The Second Phase in Sherry Isaac’s Goal Setting series. This is the third installment in her series, but it could easily had been titled WHAT WAS I THINKING, or WAS I?

In this installment, Sherry evaluates her five-year-plan against accomplishments.

Nifty images of a book and magazine nest in the prose in this post. Know why?

No? But, you want to, right?

Because [kazoo trill, please]…

Those nifty images are from the cover of a magazine in which Sherry Isaac published, and [cue drum-roll with kazoo trill]…

The other is the cover of STORYTELLER, Sherry’s collection of award-winning, review-gush-prompting short stories.

With that, I slip away to fix myself something to eat, kick back with a mug of coffee, and leave the work to the best writing buddy in the Whole Wide World, Sherry Isaac.

By now, Sherry Isaac needs no introduction when she clambers into my hammock. But, she gets one anyway, because she’s so dang cute.

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SHERRY ISAAC

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.

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STEP AWAY FROM THE JANUARY…

a Sherry Isaac Series

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And into February! YAY! One month closer to summer! Take off woolen hat, replace with goal-setting cap…

Learning how to set goals is a skill. Like any other skill, it takes trial and error and practice to do well.

Earlier this month, on Gloria Richard Writes, Step Away From the January–It May be Loaded, Part I and Part II, featured goal-setting tips to increase chances of success.

Rewind to January, 2010. Online class assignment: Envision where my career might take me. Where did I hope my writing career would take me by the end of the day, the end of the week, six months, one year, two years, five?

Within a month’s time, class wrapped up and I closed the journal where said assignment had been recorded.

Yes, you read that right. I put away the list.

Easy to leave this list as a cool treasure discovered as I cleaned out my desk. But what if this list could become more than a dream list to chuckle over with amusement at my grandiose visions?

What if this had been a list of goals, a five-year plan I didn’t stuff in a drawer, lost and forgotten?

Using Step Away From the January as a guide, I can dissect this list. I can look at the milestones past to see what ‘goals’ were met and which ones have yet to be realized. I can learn valuable goal-setting lessons from this list.

Moving forward, I can use this list as a base–sharpened, tweaked, and focused into a recipe for success.

To make this dissection more fun, I’ll throw in a little reward system. No, Gloria, you do not earn a trip to Yogurtland every time I succeeded in meeting a goal.

Goals met over the last two years earn one point. Failed or forgotten goals lose one point.

Ready? Good.

FIVE YEAR PLAN

JANUARY, 2010

Today: Reading and networking.

Yeah, let’s assume I spent a little time on both. Call it cheating if you want to, but come on! It was the same day! If the goal was pluck all my nose hairs and scrub the toilets at the nearest subway station, I’d concede. However, it is no secret I like to read, and heaven knows, I have no trouble socializing on email.

Rearview Mirror Says: Easy Peasy. It’s okay to meet our goals, we want to meet our goals. However, if you are consistently knocking items off your list and still have time to chew the eraser off your pencil at the end of every day, it may be time to raise the bar and push yourself a little harder.

Points earned: 2

In One Week: Write Book Review.

My review of Elizabeth Joy Arnold’s Pieces of My Sister’s Life was published in Quick Brown Fox on January 24, 2010.

Rearview Mirror Says: This goal was specific. This goal was written as a direct result to a call for book review submissions. The goal could have gone one step further and named the book marked for review, and the magazine targeted. However, since the goal was set for the same week, the information was likely stored in my noggin at time of writing.

Points earned: 1

So far, so good.

In One Month: Submit The Time Between to Crow Toes Quarterly.

My submission record (Yes, another list. I am a nerd.) shows this story was sent to the magazine on February 8, 2010.

Rearview Mirror Says: Another specific goal. I’m menopausal, so do not recall if the story in question was already polished. If not, then adding that step to the goal would have helped determine if one month was a realistic deadline.

Points earned: 1

In Six Months: Publication in Crow Toes Quarterly. Publication in Glimmertrain.

The Time Between was published in the 15th Issue of Crow Toes Quarterly, Fall 2010. I received the contract June 8, 2010.

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Glimmertrain? Fugghedaboudit.

Rearview Mirror Says: Specific goal. But what about my control?

Aware of CTQ’s submission guidelines. Check.

Publication researched and determined a good fit for my work. check.

Work submitted in accordance with publication’s guidelines. Check.

Story written, revised, polished and edited. Check

Submission accepted. Erk! No matter how many check marks I earn as I prepare my submission, I have no control over whether or not the publication will accept.

Note, too, that my story was accepted for publication within the six-month timeline, but it wasn’t actually published until nine months later. My story could as easily been accepted for an issue 2 years down the road.

You could argue that I didn’t make my goal. But since I’m the one doling out the points, you’d lose.

As for the second publication… At some point after this vision was put to paper, I picked up a copy of Glimmertain. Reading one page of one story in one issue convinced me this reputable magazine was not a fit for my work. Too bad I hadn’t the foresight to gave read the publication before I’d submitted three stories. Entry fees. Ouch!

On the shiny side of the typewriter key, the executive decision to shake Hope Chest until Glimmertrain fell out demonstrated flexibility.

Points earned: 1-1=0

In One Year: Homecoming Published. Prana Prose & Poetry Readings a huge success.

SNORT! Two years later, Homecoming does not have an agent, let alone a publication deal. It is, however, finished, has been submitted to contests (a finalist in The Maggie), and successfully pitched to two agents requesting partials.

No, neither agent asked to see more.

As for the reading series, if you call standing room only success, then success was achieved with the readings I co-hosted with Toronto author, and friend, Brandon Pitts, at his cafe, Prana, in Toronto’s trendy Beach.

Rearview Mirror Says: Targets clear and specific but structured so that I had no control over my success. Hm. Sensing a pattern here.

Clearly, putting control in the hands of the universe is a gamble. If you watch CSI, then you know the odds are always stacked in the house’s favor.

That said, I did breakdown steps required to get Homecoming ready for submission, not on this list, but on another. I researched agents representing like authors. Alas, I dropped the project so I could pursue another opportunity, and Storyteller, my collection of short stories was published.

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Wish my joints and limbs were as flexible as my plans. Or maybe I just like to chase shiny baubles…

As for the Prose & Poetry Readings, specificity could be added to the goal, such as  focusing on tasks that would increase word-of-mouth, networking to attract area authors to the series, and finding new, zero-cost ways to advertise.

Points: 1-1=0

In Two Years: Write Ambrosia Series

Considering this list was stuffed in a cupboard and forgotten, I am on track. I spent January 2012 putting Book One through the First Draft In Thirty Days* motions. Book One is now in simmer mode, as recommended by Karen S. Wiesner.

As a goal, however, this one lacks specificity. Baby steps required. Series overview, outline for each book, first drafts, revisions, submission to critique group, edits, polish and deadlines for each step would make this goal a reality.

Knowing the speed I work, writing a five-book series in one year is just a wee bit beyond my capabilities. Goals need to challenge, but they need to be realistic, too. Write book one? Sure. Book two? Maybe. The whole series? Fugghedaboudit.

However, I did get the control thing down. I said I would write. I made no presumptions regarding publication. This time.

Points earned…

Dang! Since the year ain’t over and I’ve misplaced my crystal ball, scoring will end here. So, out of a possible 8 points, I earned 4. That’s 50%.

100% would have meant my goals weren’t enough of a challenge. But 50%?

Listen up. 50% isn’t failure. In high school, I strived for 50%.

But this isn’t high school. I doubt 50% was the success rate I’d hoped for when I wrote the list.

Seems my big sin has been relinquishing control over my success. Now that I see it, I want nothing more than to kick my own keister. Who gives up control over their success?

Now that 2010 and 11 are behind me, what does my future have in store?

Woot! Years 3 and 4 and 5! Future plans! Future goals! An opportunity to turn my visions into concrete, workable, achievable goals. I can breakdown and baby step, add specificity and focus.

If I were Will Smith instead of Sherry Isaac, this is were I would get Jiggy with it.

In Three Years: Two books published

In Four Years: One children’s book published. Third book published

In Five Years: Fourth book published. Second North American Book Tour

Well.

No one can say I don’t make grand plans, and my goals were definitely focused–but my goals clearly lacked specificity and control.

Where are the baby steps?

Where is the FUN?

On the other hand, though none of these aspirations is a walk in the park, the plans aren’t unattainable or out of reach.This list needs work, but this list also propels me forward. I’m glad I cleaned my office, and happier still that I found this list. I may need to tweak and fine tune these aspirations, but I wouldn’t toss a single one.

Fear not, this series does not end here. Come back on Friday. Fun fun fun planned as I dissect trash laugh at take stellar examples from Gloria’s ROW80 List. WOOT!

What’s that you say? No youtube links in this post? Well, here is the Jiggy-Meister himself, Will Smith. Enjoy!

BTW, Big Willie likes to name drop. For fun, or to assure us you did indeed Get Jiggy, leave one of Will’s many name drops in a comment below. (This is not a contest, but if it were a contest, said contest would be closed to GloriaRichardWrites and its Affiliates. This means you, Glo. Let the readers have some fun. You can grade the comments. Promise.)

Okay, Ms Bossyboots Guest Extraordinaire. Hey! You heard what the woman said! Have some fun! Leave a comment! Please. And, thank you.

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