Monday, May 30, 2011

Are you setting summer goals?

I'm a big believer in goal setting.
I wish I was better at goal achieving!

I take comfort in studies that show setting goals will get you farther than not setting goals-- even if you don't reach the actual goal itself.  It's either take comfort or lie on the ground, drumming my heels, wailing like a frustrated two year old...and my FinePrint colleagues have taken to pouring water on my head when I do that.


I set goals for the year, for the month, and sometimes for a season. Like summer.

I set a very specific professional goal for May.  And missed it. By a lot.  My little stickie on my desk top chided me today.  It listed the date I set the goal, what the goal was, and when I wanted to reach it.

Big juicy splat.  In fact, I fell behind if you analyze percentages.  Which of course I do, because why feel like a mere failure when you can feel like a riproaring stupid failure.  Yes indeed.

Then I had to yank up my sox, and remind myself:

Failure is NOT not-succeeding.
Failure is NOT not-achieving the goal.
Failure is NOT feeling stupid and lazy.
Failure is giving up.

Failure is not trying;
Failure is not paying attention;
Failure is giving up.

Well, I'm not giving up.

I analyzed why I didn't achieve my goals. One reason was it was too big. I scaled back my expectations. One was I didn't remind myself of the goal regularly.  I've put a reminder notice on my electronic calendar. And one was I didn't finish all the details when I had a task in front of me...and I have no idea how to fix that other than to be aware of it and try not to do it anymore.

With that in mind, I've set new professional goals for the summer season.  Five of them.  Three are related to the goal I didn't achieve in May--I've broken it down to three parts. 

And one of the other two goals is to take summer Fridays off. I'm busier and more behind than ever (I bet you are too) but one thing I learned over the Christmas break when I took a week off, was that I worked more efficiently after I took a break.  So, making a goal of taking summer Fridays will both help me achieve my other goals (I'm hoping!) AND give me a goal that's fun.  Goals shouldn't always be about the arduous things in life.

I specifically haven't mentioned what my goals are because it's not the specifics that matter.  It's simply the act of setting goals, and working to achieve them that matters.

I've had long-term goals on my mind recently because twice in the last three months I've heard from writers who've told me their books are being published this year. Authors I met at conferences or publishing events YEARS ago...more than five.  They had a lot of frustrating experiences betwixt then and now, but they didn't give up.  (And they didn't throw up their hands, say everyone in publishing was a moron, and self-publish either.)  They persevered, worked hard, paid attention to critiques and achieved their goals.

And I just bought their books on Amazon this morning.

So, if you're setting goals this summer, here's to our success! And to remembering what failure isn't.


Ricky Bush said...

Clink! To successfully setting goals. I just need to keep my butt in my chair and write words. Every Day. If I'd just keep to that short term goal, then the long term goals just might be reached a little bit faster. I'll start soon as I get back from Belize with the family. I keep my goals to myself, but if I reach one, then I reveal that I've done it.

Becky Taylor said...

(coming out of lurk mode)
How inspirational, I loved this. It's hard to learn how to keep moving forward in spite of set backs and bumps in the road--never mind those Total Fail moments. Goals are amazingly powerful things. Thank you for sharing how you readjusted your goals and didn't just throw them out the window all together, it's a great reminder for all of us.

Stephanie McGee said...

*abandoning lurker status*

What a beautiful post. And something I think I definitely needed to hear. I'm going to set two goals related to writing. Achievable, I think.

Best of luck in achieving your goals, O Sharkly One. I hope your summer is fabulous.

Michael Field said...

I was just having the same conversation with a friend of mine. Great stuff!

Dreams are great. Goals are better.

Anonymous said...

I like your idea, Janet, about taking Fridays off. Of course, here I am at work on a holiday. Sigh.

Hey, that would create a new catch-phrase!!

TGIT. Thank God It's Thursday.

Have a wonderful summer and stay away from Amity Island. The people up there aren't too keen toward your species.

Barb said...

I read "then I had to YACK up my sox, and remind myself.' And I thought, hey? I didn't read where you ate them in the first place.

Yep:Failure is not paying attention.

Elizabeth Michels said...

I love goals! How do people survive out there in the world with no goals? BIG, REALLY BIG Summer goals around here. I can't wait to get started! Great post!

Joanne Levy said...

Lovely post, Janet! My goal for this summer is to enjoy it and relax as much as I can. Next summer, when my debut comes out, will be a different story, so this year, I'm taking the time to indulge. There will be many books read for the pure pleasure of it! Here's to your summer Fridays and recharging - an important goal, to be sure.

Nancy Kelley said...

I love goals. I do tend to set my expectations too high and miss by a mile, but the feeling of striving for something is worth it.

My big goal for the summer is to finish my revisions by June 15. Then the story is mostly in the hands of my critique partners and beta readers until August or so, leaving me free for the first time in months. Yep, the secondary goal is to enjoy that while it lasts.

Hey, my word verification is squee. Is that the sound we'll all make when we reach our goals?

jjdebenedictis said...

At work, I set a goal to get my grading done CRAZY-FAST, i.e. the same day the work was turned in. That way, I've got more time to write, but really, I should set writing goals too.

The other thing I've done recently is set up The Humiliator, a heartless Javascript demon designed to embarrass me mercilessly if I fall behind on my writing. (Available to other writers too!)

PS - I wanna be on that yacht, champagne-swilling shark or no.

Brittany said...

Thanks for this inspiring post! I love setting goals but I'm also not so great at achieving them. :P Goals keep me moving forward and help me stay focused. I haven't really set any summer goals yet but I have a mental list of things I want to get done.

Anonymous said...

Setting goals is helpful. It gives us something to point our eye toward. As long as you're trying, that's what counts. I completely agree with you -- that failure is giving up. The only person who loses in that scenario is the person who stops trying.

Thank you for this; I needed the reminder. I have just set myself a goal for the summer. Let's see about achieving it. ~Ali

Landra said...

love this post so much! Link to it from my blog.

I tend to set goals, but I try to be extremely realistic when I set them. To be honest, I haven't set a goal in a while. Simply because the last one I set didn't work out. That is going to change.
Janet thank you for re-activating my goal mojo.

Molly O'Neill said...

Taking summer Friday off, for-realz, is my summertime goal, too. Perhaps we should start making reminder phone calls at 1pm every Friday, to chase one another out of the office!

Lisa Geichman Prosek said...

I love this post, Janet. We probably all need to do a better job of being our own personal project managers. That means setting goals and committing to them. But that also means breaking down those bigger, intimidating goals into smaller steps that we have the nerve to face and consistently believe we can achieve. Finally, a skillful project manager also knows how to adjust the parameters of a targeted goal so that it never becomes unreachable. In other words, we need to work harder at positioning ourselves to win. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to think about my life and work through this prism.

Janet Reid said...

Miss O'Neill (the source of many good things), great idea, but I have 12:30 marked as the hour I get on my broom and fly away! I'll call you from my broom phone as I flit over 53rd Street!

Fanfreakingtastic Flower said...

Man, I really needed to read this post today. My writing goals have gone well this year, but I also had a goal of getting back down to my fighting weight. This went well - until it didn't. I keep losing and gaining the same stupid three pounds. I have that desire to just say screw it, but that's when I'd be failing. It's time for me to get back to it!

Shannon Heather said...

Goals suck.

They piss me off. Every time I look at my list of things I want to accomplish I want to kill something innocent, fluffy, with big trusting eyes which usually gets me back on track. I can murder anything in my writing and I always feel better when I do.

That's my twisted way of staying on track.

Hart Johnson said...

Goals are nice, but I find what gets stuff DONE is strategies: I will write a book BY writing 1500 words a day 6 days a week.

Manageable pieces is huge, but so is 'deliverables' so you can tell if you are making your progress.

SBJones said...

Goals are great. I have a saying when anyone gives me a questioning look. "Attainable Goals." If your goal is to be President. Break that down to becoming a Senator first, or state Governor, to city council, to volunteer at the soup kitchen. One step at a time. Book writing is the same way. From Novel to chapters to the first word you finally put to paper.

Kristin Laughtin said...

My summers are no less busy than the rest of my year, so my goal is simply to continue writing to meet my weekly quota and making my output as great as I can.

Well...I'm nearing the end of a story, so I'm also aiming to finish that manuscript in the first half of summer. (I'm a slow-ish writer, so this really is something to aim for!)

Tawna Fenske said...

Fabulous post, and applicable even to people who have nothing to do with publishing (I just forwarded it to a friend who's a photographer looking to fine-tune his goal setting skills).

Thanks for the wonderful reminder!


jbarville said...

Your post made me dig through my computer to find the 2011 goals I set in January.

Some I've already met. Some I'm on track to meet. Some I've even surpassed.

But some I'd completely forgotten, making me feel like I'm starting a race 30 minutes after the gun goes off. But it's June and I have six months to catch up. The finish line is still possible. If I'd waited till December it'd be too late.

Thanks for the reminder and enjoy your free Fridays this summer.