In January, there’s always a lot of talk about New Year’s Resolutions. The perennial weight loss goal being one that gets a lot of play in commercials and the media. I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions, and don’t think I’ve made more than one or two in the past thirty years.
At the beginning of the year, I focus more on what I’m going to continue doing. What goal that I’m already working on, am I going to focus on this month? And it’s much more of a monthly check in than it is a New Year’s habit.
Partially, I try to do this so that I can break up a long-term goal into smaller pieces. For example, revisions for book two in my Swords and Shields series. I’ve been working on this book for a while now, and there’s a lot of work left to do, but thinking about the entire process and everything at once can be both intimidating and paralyzing. So I break it down. Last September’s goal was to get it ready for a round of beta reading. October, I got it sent out to readers. I gave them two months to get it back to me, since we all participate in NaNoWriMo, and I didn’t want to derail that for anyone. January’s goal is to go through all the feedback, synthesize, and decide what to work on next. February’s goal will be based on that analysis and will be some chunk of revision I need to do, either some re-plotting, re-writing, or heavy revision of a particular section of the book. Once all those pieces I identified in January are completed, I’ll do another round of whole story reading and analysis on my own, making sure I’ve fixed everything I know is wrong before I send it off to readers again.
I do the same kind of breakdown with most of my large goals. I want to read more this year, so I’m picking out at least two books each month to try to keep my reading habit going strong. I’m trying to lose weight and increase my exercise routine, but I’m doing it incrementally. One pound a week is a nice, slow, healthy way to lose weight, and if I can up my exercise by 2,000 steps or 5-10 minutes a day at least every week, I’ll be making good progress.
This kind of incremental progress works for me. It doesn’t work for everyone. What strategies do you use to help reach your goals, both large and small?