Updated: Jan 16
This January, I’m excited to participate in a goals and productivity blog tour in honor of 2023! New Year’s resolutions and vows of self-improvement are common in January, but so often they fizzle out. In this post, I'm going to be tackling how to brainstorm and choose writing goals, stay focused on what matters to you, and create an action plan to MAKE YOUR AUTHOR DREAMS A REALITY in 5 simple steps. Follow along with this tour to read about how and why to set achievable, Godly goals and increase productivity in your life.
MAKE A POSSIBILITY LIST
The first step I take when planning or making goals is writing a possibility list. Find something clean to write on (whether that's in a notebook, a scrap piece of paper, or a computer document), and begin to dump your thoughts and dreams for what's ahead.
Don't worry about being perfect or realistic with your goals at this point. Just jot down anything that comes to mind — the little and the big. Your craziest ideas. Milestones you would love to reach. The book you've been wanting to finish. That places you wish you could visit. A language or skill you want to learn. Braindump everything you want to accomplish and your aspirations for the New Year in your possibility list.
CREATE YOUR VISION FOR THE YEAR
Looking back at what you did and didn't accomplish in the previous year can be a helpful starting place for creating new goals and plans. Use 2022 as a benchmark for where you want to go in 2023.
ASK YOURSELF: What worked for me, and what didn't? What did I accomplish and not accomplish? What am I proud of you? What am I not so proud of? What lessons did I learn? Why?
Take some time to ponder and reflect on this. After looking back on your year and answering these questions, you can begin to apply what you've learned and experienced to where you are currently.
If you're unsure of how to move forward, don't panic. It's okay to not have a plan or know what's next. Proverbs 16:1-3 says, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Pray and give your year over to Jesus. Surrender can be scary, but He will give you freedom, and direction, and make your dreams flourish like you never could've imagined. Ask God what he has for you going forward. What are His visions and plans for you?
Something that I recently started doing was choosing an intentional Word of the Year. I love going to a quiet place to journal and talk to my Father about my dreams and aspirations. During this time, I choose my Word of the Year: an affirmation and overarching theme for what I want my season of life to look like. Doing this helps greatly with staying centered on what matters and selecting goals that share a common purpose. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend checking out this post: "Choosing an Intentional Word of the Year" by Roseanna M. White.
Taking the time to reflect, pray, and develop a vision will greatly increase your motivation, highlight the goals that should be your priorities, and help you through any distractions and discouragement you may face throughout the year.
SELECT ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC GOALS THAT MATTER TO YOU
Now that you have your list and a vision for moving forward, it's time to put them to use! Go through your possibility list, and circle the goals that resonate best with where you are now and where you want to be at the end of the year.
Select goals you care about that are both achievable and realistic. While all the wonderful possibilities and aspirations you wrote down are good goals, not all of them will be attainable or line up with your vision. I find that it's the goals I care about the most are the ones I accomplish because they become priorities. If your goal isn't genuinely important to you, you're probably not going to do it. This is true whether you plan to write a novel or go skydiving. At the end of the year, it's the dreams we truly care about that we achieve and make progress towards.
READ THROUGH THE POSSIBILITY LIST YOU MADE EARLIER, AND ASK YOURSELF: What goals can I let go of? Which ones are the most important to me? Where do I want to be at the end of the year, physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually? What aspirations best align with my vision and get me excited for the future? What are the goals that will be the most beneficial to me and others?
Begin to narrow down your possibility list, crossing out the goals you don't care about or that aren't realistic for your season of life.
I also find a lot of value in setting low expectations. As a very ambitious person, I tend to make huge goals that quickly become overwhelming, and then I get severely disappointed when I don't meet the towering expectations I've placed on myself. Select goals that you know you can accomplish, and you'll be much more motivated to work towards them.
Ambition and big dreams are beautiful, but give yourself plenty of grace. Don't make the process too daunting for yourself. It's much better to chase the dreams that are achievable and possibly surpass them than to burn yourself out trying to reach a lofty finish line in a short amount of time. Learning to pace myself with my goals greatly increased my productivity and permitted me to focus on the things that truly matter.
Once you've selected the goals you plan to work towards, it's time to start making them a reality. This leads us to the next step...
BREAK DOWN THE GOALS INTO TASKS AND MILESTONES
I've heard it said that vision without action is just daydreaming. Now is the time to take the goals you chose in the previous step, and turn them into a game plan.
ASK YOURSELF: How can I make my aspirations a reality? What are some practical ways I can make progress toward this goal? What is something I can do daily, weekly, or monthly to get to where I want to be?
Now that you have your desired end-of-the-year status in sight, begin to break your yearly goals into smaller tasks and achievements. Set mini milestones along the way for you to reach, and reward yourself for the progress you do make.
It's usually at this point that I begin to keep a planner, using it to keep track of and check off regular accomplishments. If you're not into using a planner, I also find calendar blocking to be an incredibly helpful resource as well. SERIOUSLY, JUST DO IT. Taking the time to plan out the smaller steps toward your bigger goals will help you stay focused and find more time to pursue your passions. You can find my favorite planner here.
Make plans not just goals. Focus more on HOW you will get there, rather than WHAT you want to accomplish.
BE ADAPTABLE AND MINDFUL OF CHANGE
It's important to remember that the goals we set are not concrete plans. Be adaptable and roll with the punches. Over the years, I've learned the hard way that setting plans in stone can lead to a lot of frustration and discouragement. Creativity can be unpredictable, so be prepared to change something if it isn't working, and follow new inspiration if needed.
Maybe halfway through the year, your priorities will shift, and you'll discover that what you've been doing isn't working for you anymore. As a rigorous planner, I know how scary this idea can be, but the reality is that no goal or resolution is absolute. A lot can happen in a year. Change is a normal part of life, and that's okay.
You're just setting these milestones and resolutions for yourself based on what you think is best for you. Goals are more like guidelines than anything else, and it's 100% okay to adjust your course. It's far more important to be content with where you are at the end of the year than to be able to perfectly meet all the plans you set in January.
1/1 Autumn Rebecca at Sunshine in the Haze reflects on 2022, discusses the beauty and challenges of change, and sets goals for the New Year.
1/3 Isabelle Daou at The Public Schooled Christian discusses her goals to shine the light of Jesus and resolutions for the school year.
1/10 Desiree Flaming at Flight Patterns discusses helpful ways to organize and keep track of goals.
1/13 Ava Coulter discusses setting writing goals, achieving them, and staying focused in 2023.
1/16 Emma Thrasher at Roses of Grace discusses how we can think Biblically about productivity and not go insane in the process.
I hope this tour is helpful for you, and that you accomplish all your writerly dreams for 2023! Stay tuned for Emma's post next week; and be sure to go back and read Autumn, Isabelle, and Desiree's posts as well. These girls have some awesome advice and thoughts on the New Year, and I know you'll be inspired by reading them!
How was your 2022? What are some of your goals for the New Year? What are you most looking forward to? Have you chosen a 'Word of the Year' before? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!