|Ha Long Bay 2009|
Each year I look back at the written list of goals taped to my desk. Some goals are always on the list. That doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish them, some goals have no end point, such as being a supportive partner and a healthy person. Checking off a big goal always feels great. Looking back over the year and seeing check marks and lines drawn through a goal always makes me smile. I limit myself to ten big goals per year divided between Self, Family, Financial, Health and Community.
I don’t make resolutions, I make plans. Each goal gets broken down in to tiny little baby steps. I don’t get overwhelmed if I make tiny changes. I also know that small changes add up. Each day, I make sure that I have done at least one thing to move me towards my goals. It prevents me from becoming discouraged when life gets complicated. So many people say they want to write but don’t write down their writing goals, fail to make a plan, and then wonder why they don’t accomplish their goal.
If you want to accomplish a goal, make a plan. Break your plan down into small steps. Don’t discount the power of small steps. How small? When the kids were babies and I stayed home with them, if I managed to get 250 words written per day I was very happy. Even 250 words adds up, and keeps you moving forward. It can seem that life is conspiring with evil beings to thwart your best efforts to keep going. A parent becomes ill, a partner has surgery, your kids get sick, you get sick, the dog gets sick, and so it goes.
The key in all of this is to keep moving, as best you can. You might have to stop and take care of your family and yourself, but don’t stop forever. Pick up your notebook and get going again, don’t feel like you have to stop forever because you stopped for a while.
As part of my planning process every three years, my partner and I sit down with a bottle of wine and markers and draw a joint three year plan on poster sized paper. We dream, get silly, drink, and have fun. I post the picture behind the door in my office, right over my big calendar that I talked about in this post about how to keep track of multiple projects
It is not pretty to look at, but when we look back at the old one when it is time to do a new one, it is pretty amazing how much we have accomplished. Why? Because we verbalized what we wanted to do for ourselves and for our family, which means we work together to support each other in our adventures.
It also reminds us what our priorities are, which means we funnel our time, energy, and financial resources into our plans and dreams. Making plans is the difference between accomplishing anything and accomplishing nothing.
People get hung up making plans because they try and force themselves to conform and write a numbered straight list, editing themselves as they go, afraid of writing down what they really want to accomplish.
This year, loosen up, get out your big paper, markers, beverages of your choice, and have fun.