Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Loosey Goosey Goals

"Establishing goals is all right if you don't let them deprive you of interesting detours." - Doug Larson

Do you set firm goals for the year, then freak out if you don't reach them?

I would. That's why I create loosey goosey goals for each day: Write x number of words. Revise x number of chapters. Read through critique pages. Query Tracker had a great post about writer's goals here.

I have long-term publishing goals, but they're somewhat dependent on the tastes and actions of other people. If my goal was to publish a novel in 2011, I'd be disappointed on December 31st.

My goals for 2011 are loose: charge forward, write new material, revise like crazy, try new things, submit, submit, submit, and keep learning.

Nothing is impossible if we work hard enough and push through our obstacles. As Jack Penn said, "One of the secrets to life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks." And as Elana Johnson wrote in this post, "the impossible is possible."

Do you have concrete goals for 2011, or will you take the loosey goosey approach? Please share!


48 comments:

  1. I am a new advocate of the loosey goosey approach! You are so right about goals having the ability to disappoint. We can prevent so much of our heartache by changing our definition of what we are striving for. Hope that your New Year is going well and I'm sure your goals will be accomplished! :)

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  2. Last year was all concrete. Pages and pages of concrete. And I think I only "accomplished" about 2 of them. I was disappointed and then some. So this year I limited myself to 5 goals total... meaning all aspects of my life combined. And I made them more loosey goosey. Goals to learn, grow and change in some way, however small. And so far I love my goals. The offer hope instead of a weapon to destroy myself with later.

    Great post!

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  3. I read the query tracker post on goals yesterday and thought they made great points. My biggest goal this year is to finish my first draft. It's up to me to get the work done so I feel pretty confident I'll achieve this goal. :)

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  4. I like concrete goals because they give me a plan, but at the same time I love that quote about interesting detours, and I think it makes a good point. I do think it's important (for me) to have some specificity, but also enough flexibility to tackle new opportunities and ideas as they arise.

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  5. I've read/learned too much about writing out your "big" goals to think they don't work. So the big goal can be "Get a book published" but the others will be benchmarks for making that happen (with some loose dates, though).
    erica

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  6. It's definitely the loosey goosey approach for me. I don't even call them goals. They're more like intentions!

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  7. Loosey goosey for me! I have no idea what this year is going to be like. I think I'll be thankful if I can get anything done! :)

    Amy

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  8. I might not announce my goals in a blog post but that's because they are with me all the time. I don't have any control over signing with an agent or getting published - but I can control how hard I work and I can control studying the craft of writing. Those are my goals. and of course to put that learning into my revisions and my idea creation. There you have it. :)

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  9. I create concrete goals but at the same time I try really hard to make them reachable. However, my first goal really is out of my hands and I have to acknowledge that right now so I'm not too disappointed if it doesn't happen!

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  10. You've hit on a couple REALLY key things about goals. The most important is never set a goal that isn't in your control. PUBLISHING largely isn't, where all the acts we do trying to GET published are. I know myself well enough that loosy goosy would get me nowhere, but I set my goals sort of large "I will revise X work in January" with a set of strategies "by spending at least 10 hours a week editing". Notice that 10 hours a week has flexibility built in--I will TRY to do 1.5 hours during the week, but I have the weekend to make up the difference if I need. See, I know myself--if it's 'rigid' then fail is fail, but if it isn't specific, then I don't have a WAY to do it. That's my theory anyway...
    (note: I also write in a re-eval, as sometimes things come up... you are working away and you get a request for revisions, for example... it may throw off the goal, but it's a darned good REASON--allow it to change)

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  11. My goals are half-concrete, one of which is to finish a novel this year. But it's loose enough that I don't feel boxed in by it -- and it's also something do-able, something I can control.

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  12. That's a fantastic quote! I always give myself such a hard time if I don't meet my goals - I think I'll try the loosey-goosey approach this year and see if I get more done!!

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  13. I have a couple big goals, but I also have a lot of smaller ones as well. That way I know I'll achieve at least some of my aspirations!

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  14. "Nothing is impossible if we work hard enough and push through our obstacles" That says it all!!!!

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  15. I'm a goal setter, kind of the big picture type goal setter. When I used to set weekly, quarterly goals for my writing, it just never seemed to get done. Other "stuff" got priority ... everyday life. And of course, I would be disappointed in myself for not achieving those goals. My goal now? Simply write, journal as much as I can, as often as I can and feed my newly created blog. I figured my blog would hold me accountable to myself!

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  16. Since I just set my very specific goals on my blog today, I guess I'd say mine fall into the "concrete" category.

    However, that's only because I tried loosey-goosey last year (which I much prefer) and it didn't work. So it looks like I need the discipline of concrete for now.

    Good luck to you with yours!

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  17. Some of my goals are concrete and others are loosey-goosey. There are some bigger things that I really want to get done this year, but there are also other things that aren't as definite.

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  18. I'm a leap frog goal setter. I always have at least two so when one is finished another is already waiting for me. My writing goal is simple (and probably cliche) ...Enjoy the ride, but it's my responsibility to keep the goal car gassed up.

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  19. So funny, I posted a blog similar about not getting too attached to your goals yesterday. So yeah, more loosey-goosey this year for sure. I haven't really written things down or committed to something specific. I DO want to work towards something, but I want to leave room for that to change, for God's plan instead of mine, for bigger things I haven't thought of yet, and for grace for missed marks. Nice post!

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  20. I definitely want to read more books, learn how to better develop my characters and get my next MG ready to sell. I think those are all ones I should have no issue in completing, but every step I take toward them is full of win in my book.

    I set loosey-goosey daily goals tho. These help me be more productive. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  21. I like loosey goosey goals too. I just want to keep moving forward - keep learning.

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  22. Definitely wild and free goals for me! I just want to keep going on the path I started in 2010 and improve from there.

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  23. I set daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals. I have a loosey-goosey annual goal, mainly because so much changes. I try to keep it open!

    Good luck this year!

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  24. Yeah, I like to set firm goals that are in my control. As for the publishing goals that are out of my control, I don't even try to set those. I just keep trying to improve my writing and move forward while always hoping to reach for dreams.

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  25. Great post. I have some overreaching goals for the year 2011, but also smaller goals for the individual months to make things more manageable.

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  26. I try to keep it loose. I always have a new year enthusiasm for organizing that is unspoken (definitely NOT a goal) and that quickly goes by the wayside. It motivates me to get some things done that have been put off. Otherwise, my goals are generally set at my birthday and I just keep it loose- and the main is to submit, submit, submit!

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  27. Creatively my goals for this year are these: write, write some more, rewrite, paint, play some music, then write.

    I want to create something I really, really love this year, even if no one else ever sees it. My goal, this year, is to live my art. I did it in 08 and 09, and in 10, I lost it until almost the very end of the year.

    in '11, for me the best way forward is by going back to what worked to begin with, that I didn't even realize I'd lost.

    Great post!

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  28. I don't make goals or resolutions. I make a to-do list. A goal to me is something you strive for and never attain. Resolutions, promises to break. I DO or DO NOT. I don't strive. I don't promise. I do. :D

    In case you can't tell, being more direct and decisive is something I'm doing this year.

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  29. I'm getting ready to write my blog post on 2011 goals too. It's important not to set yourself up for failure, and for that reason I think the loosey goosey approach has merit - as long as there's some built in organization. This year, I'm trying to make my goals attainable so I won't get discouraged. For example, I have a goal to write every day - even if it's just a page, a scene, or ten minutes of rough notes for a new plot development. The key is to maintain momentum on your projects.

    Best wishes for an inspired 2011!

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  30. I have both : few concrete goals for 2011 and few loosey goosey goals. This allows me the freedom to get into more writing adventures ; like try out new writing techniques like micro fiction, and also work on my current WIP.

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  31. Hi Julie, My goal is to focus on the writing and not get caught up in thinking about things I have no control over.

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  32. Hi Julie! Well, as a self-proclaimed queen of procrastination - the loosey, goosey approach is really my only option for goals. :) BUT - I'm going to try really hard to keep to some writing goals this year. I'll wish us both luck!

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  33. Loosey Goosey is the way to go. I mean who can predict when a rainbow might appear? You've got to be flexible, yet those long term goals are essential. Great post.

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  34. I have both loose and firm goals. The loose ones are things that are reliant on other people. The firm ones are do-able eg completing the editing/polishing of at least one of my WIPs and start querying.

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  35. I set goals, and sometimes am disappointed in myself when I don't reach them, but I never freak out. I don't set X number of words to write each day, because when I start, I go over the previous scene and tidy it up a bit (and to help me get into the flow of what I want to write next). So even though new pages aren't being written, it's still progress. ;o)

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  36. I love your approach because it makes room for having a life!

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  37. I like your philosophy. Why set ourselves up for failure? My goals are to finish, edit and submit my WIP, which is halfway done. My long-term goal is to land an agent.

    Good luck with your goals. Happy new year!

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  38. I'm learning to be more loose with them. I love goals but as you said, some are more dependent on others, not me. I just need to work hard and let God do the rest.

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  39. They are measurable...like my 'exercise 1000 minutes a month' That's a little more than 30 mins a day, but if I do 45 mins a day I can work days off in. My writing goal is to have my MS ready to submit by the main character's birthday (the day I wrote the first scene).

    If I don't hit any of them, it doesn't matter as long as I know I TRIED.

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  40. I posted about my writing resolutions over here on my blog but the short version, which is pretty loosey goosey, is to write more and read more widely. I'm doing well so far since I've already read and reviewed The Hunger Games for a (more concrete) new genre series on my blog- now I just need to collect some reservations from the library to get another review up by Monday!

    I think as long as your goals get you motivated to actually do something, whether it's a concrete deadline or a loose and therefore more easily achievable goal, you're onto a winner.
    - Sophia.

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  41. You're right. I do set firm goals and stress out til I meet my goals. That's no way to live life. I like your post.
    CD

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  42. this advice is so wise, julie. just yesterday i sat down to my desk and wrote out all my goals and then realized......what about those creative detours? most of the time, they are the real road........;-)

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  43. It seems to be a theme this year not to be too concrete. And I love stepping stones over choppy little brooks. Oh the imagery! much better than taking the car over a bridge. (Not into the water over the bridge ;) )

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  44. Well, you've already seen my new years resolutions so it's safe to say that I need goals:)

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  45. I am going to check that out. I think daily goals will really help me get there

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  46. I've been letting things unfold and it's happening. As for writing...I am taking chances. Joined toastmaster's and sent out some queries and researching publications.

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  47. My goal is to finish my wip and start querying, and I'm pretty close now, so if that doesn't happen something is really wrong. My other goals would be to find an agent and get a book deal, but since I can't actually make those things happen, I'm not really calling them goals, maybe just dreams. :)

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  48. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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