The end of 2019 is upon us, and as usual, I’ve been looking at the year’s accomplishments so I can set goals for 2020. Of course, I looked at the goals I’d set for 2019, and unfortunately, not many got checked off. It seems life got in the way a little too much. Either that or I had completely ignored the wise advice of “set high but achievable goals” when I wrote them a year ago.
In fact, I only hit a 10% success rate. At the time, the goals had seemed achievable. Either that or I’d grossly overestimated my time and my abilities. What had possessed me to put down so many things? Ten shouldn’t be too many goals for a year, right? What had I done with my year? I did ride my bike a lot. Which meant lots of recovery time in front of the TV. Why can’t I be more disciplined after a ride? I should have used my laptop while recovering. Any other decent writer would have used that dead time to get ideas out of their head. Maybe I’m not cut out for this writing thing. Apparently so if I let a simple bike ride ruin a whole day’s worth of productivity.
And there you have it…the all too familiar slide into self-doubt. In a matter of minutes, I’d gone from eagerly anticipating the next year to seriously questioning every time management decision I’d made in 2019, and even my writing. I’d fallen into the trap of focusing on the negative.
Never mind that the one goal I’d checked off was a doozy…I finished my degree and got a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. When I looked deeper into 2019, I hadn’t indiscriminately blown off all my other goals, but instead, made deliberate choices. I hadn’t failed to publish both a novel and novella but put all my efforts into writing a one hundred and one thousand-word, literary novel for my thesis project.
But that project path had changed from a straight interstate highway to a winding road when I got a note from my instructor that perhaps I needed to go back six-years in the thesis novel’s setting as the beginning of the story. Then the other things I’d planned for 2019 got set aside for a few months of serious revision. I hadn’t failed to accomplish my goals. I’d kept sight of the most important one.
I want to pass this lesson on to others: give yourself a break. The minute a plan gets set, outside forces compete to keep you from finishing what you started. Life does get in the way, but its those experiences that make us richer and sometimes add to our story repertoire. Press on, make adjustments, and set new goals—keep moving forward.
For me, I’ll just look at it this way…at least I don’t need to spend a few hours on my 2020 goals. I just need to erase one. It gives me more time today to write.
Happy 2020 to all. Set your goals and carry on!