In two decades of writing, I suspect I have written at least 20 New Year's timed stories on how to set better goals. I follow some of the better advice I've heard from experts. For instance, I try to make goals specific and measurable. I set them in multiple categories (career, relationships, self). And after hearing this brilliant tip from Angela Jia Kim, I now create New Year's resolutions as quarterly goals. This allows me to focus on multiple things through the course of the year without feeling guilty that I'm not focusing on all of them simultaneously.
One more thing: I am pretty flexible about my goals. They are tools, not masters, and so not hitting them is not the end of the world, especially if some of the ultimate aims were achieved.
With that in mind, here are my quarterly goals for 2017, with an update on how I did for 2016.
Career: Write 50% of Off the Clock (my next book)
Relationships: Plan a fun summer for the kids with camps. The good ones seem to need to be booked in February!
Self: Do speed work on the treadmill at least once a week (defined as 6 intervals >9.0 mph. Hey, that's fast for me).
Career: Finish first draft of Off the Clock
Relationships: Take a family spring break trip. We're still figuring out where. We'd been thinking Bahamas, but the Zika thing is a bit disconcerting (no pregnancy, but 2-year-olds' brains are still developing too). Hawaii looks fun, but I don't think I can stomach 12 hours on a plane with my kids. I welcome suggestions. Not Disney.
Self: Run 21.7 miles per week (averaging a 5k a day)
Career: Read a book a week. I'm anticipating having more free time on weekends once the little guy doesn't need to be watched constantly, which I'm hoping will happen around this point. (Why is this career related? Writers should be readers!)
Relationships: Do mommy days with each of the older 3 kids.
Self: Use my time in the car better, listening to podcasts, TED talks, classical music.
Career: Either revise the novel (again!) or start over during NaNoWriMo.
Relationships: Do another overnight date night with my husband.
Self: Make a list of things that need to be replaced, and do so, rather than continuing to work on an office chair draped in a blanket that's covering the giant hole in the seat. I'm already making progress on this: I recently replaced our broken toaster, our broken ice tray, and my entire bra wardrobe.
So that's 2017. How did I do on 2016's goals?
Career: Come up with my next non-fiction book idea. Done! Although not quite with this timing. I came up with an idea in Q1 that my publisher was not so keen on. Back to the drawing board for another idea hatched in Q3 and approved in Q4.
Relationships: Host the preschool moms party — done. It was fun!
Self: Finish the 18-minute treadmill speed workout from Oxygen magazine. Not quite. I never made it through the full 2 minutes at 9.0 mph. However, I did make it through 90 seconds at that speed. And in the process, I ran my first 8-minute mile, and did several sprints up to 10.0 mph. I did get faster, and that was the ultimate point.
Career: Revise the novel. Again, I did, but not this timing. I did it during NaNoWriMo in Q4. Still not very good.
Relationships: Have a fun time at my 15th year reunion. I did!
Self: Run 10 miles at 10 min/mile. Done. I thought I'd do this during the Broad Street race, but instead I did it during a training run with Jane. Good thing, because Broad Street was so rainy I would have been slow (as it is, I bailed).
Career: Write a "short collection" of sonnets. Well, it was really short. I wrote two. Read them here and here. You can read one from several years ago here.
Relationships: Extended family beach trip. We made the trip. Not terribly relaxing, but so it goes. There were some good moments, like seeing a beautiful sunrise, and making the leader board on one of the arcade games.
Self: Explore Paris during a trip there. Done — I ran through some lovely scenery and went to the Louvre.
Career: Meet my speaking income goal and be 50% booked for next year. I’m not sure what 50% booked means, but I did reach my income goal. More importantly, I gave a TED talk that has now been viewed over a million times. That’s a pretty good outcome for setting an intention to build my speaking business in 2016!
Relationships: Do something holiday related with each of the kids. Meh. We've spent a lot of time together over the holidays, but I did the solo mommy days in summer, and that probably worked better.
Self: Learn to play Linus and Lucy on the piano. Fail, fail, fail. I ordered the sheet music and then it got lost in transit, and I never followed up. Oh well!