Setting Useful Goals (Without Losing My Mind)

January 19, 2011 § 5 Comments

I think goal-setting can be a double-edged sword: on the one hand, goals can keep us focused, open to change, and achieving them helps us gain new perspective. On the other hand, setting goals that don’t pan out (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?) can just make us feel inferior and wary of trying new things in the future. The key, I think, I think, is to try and find a balance between our goals and the rest of our lives–incorporating goals that we’d not only like to list on our achievement roster, but goals that are realistic for the way we currently live our lives.

Here are a few of my reading goals for 2011:

1. Read and re-read a few children’s classics. Little Women, Black Beauty, and some classic Roald Dahl are currently on my list (not sure which Dahl book yet).

2. Read more science fiction titles. I’d definitely like to read another book by Phillip K. Dick, but I’ll have to do some research to find out other great sci-fi authors. Any suggestions?

3. Branch out from my normal non-fiction reading. I tend to check out non-fiction titles from the same subject areas, but I want to take a magnifying glass to some areas I’ve never given a second thought before.

4. Don’t beat myself up if I don’t read as many books as I’d like, but–

5. Try to read something everyday, even if it’s just a blog or news article. Sometimes I have a habit of going to extremes when I set goals, and I get discouraged when I (inevitably) can’t live up to the impossible expectations I create. But reading is supposed to be fun! I want to make sure it doesn’t ever start to feel like a chore by finding a good balance of reading for my life.

Here are a few of my writing goals for 2011:

1. Keep submitting for publication. I’ve had some mild success with this so far, but there’s no doubt about it–rejection letters definitely outnumber acceptance letters, and it can be difficult at times to keep up the morale to keep putting my stuff out there. But, as Dory wisely says in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

2. Seek out more community writing events. I tend to turn into a hermit if left unchecked. I’m shy of new people and situations and honestly, isn’t it easier to just sit and write by yourself all the time? No more! It’s important, as a writer, to continue to have new experiences and get experience with helpful criticism. That’s why I hope to attend more public readings, seek out writing groups, and seize other social opportunities this year.

3. Read more books about writing. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the honor of taking a creative writing course (though I did do an excellent, one-on-one independent study class last summer). I could fill a giant papyrus scroll with rants about how much I would love, love, love to take a real class, but my current financial situation will be prohibiting that for a little while longer. So, this goal arises as the next best thing: there are so many great authors and editors out there offering advice, and by golly I’m going to take it. As I read, hopefully I’ll be able to pass on what I’ve learned to you, faithful reader.

4. Keep up with this blog. I think that blogging is probably one of the best things to ever happen for writers and readers, for a lot of reasons I won’t bore you with here (maybe in a future post). Now that I have the time, I think this blog will be a place to help keep me on my toes, and hopefully meet some other readers and writers with valuable things to say. My goal right now is 3-4 posts as week. So keep coming back!

5. Write every day, even if it’s only for ten or twenty minutes. Ideally, I’d like to be writing more than this, but you know how I said I tend towards extremes? I think aiming low and shooting high are what’s going to work best for me in this case.

Will I be able to keep all these goals? Probably not. The main purpose is to get my compass pointed in the right direction, then gladly trample down the path and hope I’ll find something valuable there, even if I don’t get to my original destination. Here we go!

What about you? What are your goals for this year?


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§ 5 Responses to Setting Useful Goals (Without Losing My Mind)

  • Carrie says:

    A couple of Sci-Fi novels I would recommend are Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Neromancer by William Gibson. They’re both in roughly the same genre (cyberpunk) but have different approaches. Neromancer is (generally) considered the defining novel of the genre, while Snow Crash comes across as almost a satire. They were also both written in the 80’s, so it gives you an interesting look into the past and what was considered crazy futuristic technology back then. Anyway, those are my two favorites 🙂 Cory Doctorow has good modern Sci-Fi, and BoingBoing tends to recommend a lot of good stuff if you don’t already go there regularly.

  • dustdaughter says:

    I recommend Octavia Butler. Her work tends to explore alternate philosophies/religions and ways of living. And they always have interesting female protagonists.

    For a bit of fun, you might try Gail Carriger’s steampunky Parasol Protectorate series. She sets her heroine in a Victorian England where werewolves and vampires live freely amongst human and other supernatural beings.

  • This is awesome! Thanks for the suggestions!

  • […] Have a goal. Broad goals (like the ones I posted about here) are helpful, but sometimes thinking small will do the trick, too. I get through the day’s […]

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