2012 and Planning for Success in the New Year

 It’s our first Monday of the New Year and we are standing on the threshold of a shiny new year. It’s almost as good as getting new school supplies. The smell of virgin paper not yet touched by a ballpoint. A new start. No mistakes. Nothing but potential.

Okay, so if you are anything like me, your initial New Year’s Resolutions might look something like this.

  1. Lose 20 pounds by February 1st
  2. Run a marathon
  3. Go to gym 5 hours a day
  4. Win the Nobel Pulitzer by my birthday
  5. Save 85% of my income
  6. Go on vacation to Bora Bora (Note to Self: Look up actual location of Bora Bora)
  7. Clean out garage
  8. Paint house inside and out
  9. Finally have all my socks match
  10. Write 3 award-winning novels by summer

There is something about facing a new year that instills us with such hope that we lose all touch with reality (blame it on the booze and sugar). It’s great to set goals, but if we get real honest, most of the time we are our own worst enemy.

Odds are, if you are a fan of this blog, you are likely a writer, an aspiring writer, or this is a condition of your parole. Regardless, all of you need to learn to set effective goals and learn habits that will keep you from sabotaging your success. Hey, I hear ya! I am the world’s worst.

But this past year, 2011, has been one of my best. I reached a lot of goals. Why? Because I learned some good lessons and applied them consistently. I hope to do even better this year. So I am going to pass these lessons on to you and hope that you will benefit as well.

1. Grant Permission to be Imperfect

The world does not reward perfection. It rewards people who get things done.

Perfectionism is a noble trait taken to the extreme which can serve as an excuse for mediocrity and a mask for fear. Perfectionists tend to be self-saboteurs (I would know nothing about this *whistles innocently*).  We perfectionists nit-pick over every single detail often at the expense of the big picture. Perfection is noble, so it makes a great shield. I mean, we just don’t believe in churning out shoddy half-ass work, right? Um…maybe. Or maybe we have a fear of failure, or even a fear of success.

So long as nothing is ever complete, we never have to face our demons and can happily fritter away our days perfecting our scenes and dialogue. Here’s the deal. No publishing house ever published half of a perfect book.

2. Give Baby Steps a Chance

How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

All or nothing thinking, a close relative of perfectionism, can tank the best projects. It is so easy to fall into this trap of, If I can’t do X, then I do nothing at all. Baby Steps are still steps. Small steps, over time, with consistency add up. It’s sort of like working out. We can choose to show up January 2nd at 5 a.m. and work out three hours, but that is a formula to end up sore, injured and burned out.

Same with writing. Make small goals. “I will write 15 minutes.” “I will write 100 words.” Sometimes all we need is a little momentum. Can’t rev the motor if we never turn the key. A good way to get going is to use kitchen timers. Set the clock and write for 30 minutes.

I use sticky notes and set my big goal, then I divide it in half. One sticky note is on the left-hand side of my monitor (starting count). I then place the half-way point in the middle, and I am not allowed a break until I make that number (even if all I write is pigeon poo). The finish line is on the right. Getting started is always the hardest part. I generally find that if I can make it to the mid-point, I am golden.

3. Establish Accountability with Other People of Excellence

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

We do need to establish accountability. But, better than that, we need to make sure we are accountable to the correct circle of friends. A critique group is not enough. If a critique group is comprised of people who whine, complain and write when they feel like it, that attitude can rub off. Find people of excellence and they will help you stretch to meet a new bar. Hanging around a bunch of whiners who aren’t successful authors (and who likely will never be) is poison to your muse.

First step is find excellent peers. Join a critique group that has actual published authors or people regularly being paid for writing. If you can’t find that in person, look to Twitter. #MyWANA #RoW80 #writegoal #wewrite are all groups of dedicated professionals with a focused work ethic.

Critique groups and partners do keep us accountable. It is easy to blow off writing when it is just us, but when we will be a let-down to others? Different story. This is one of the reasons I LOVE blogging. Blogging has done so much to change my character and I highly recommend it to help you make the mental transition from hobbyist to professional. Blogging creates deadlines and accountability.

This is why writing down your goals is imperative. If nothing else, it is a cue to your subconscious that you are committed to something. You will feel a lot more conviction if you write out a goal than if you decide to let it float around your gray matter. I would even advise taking it to the next step and sharing your goals with others.

I feel this is why so many writers have a hard time saying aloud, “I am a writer.” To say it means we have to own it and that people will be watching. We are going to invite a whole other level of accountability and people will notice if we are screwing off. But I say that accountability is the best way to reach your dreams faster, so bring it on!

4. Small Change Will Grow into Big Change

If we cannot manage a little, why should we be given more?

Good habits have a way of filtering through our lives. I have a saying, “Smaller truths reveal larger truths.” We don’t have to do mind-blowing alterations in our routines to start seeing real change in our lives. I guarantee that if you just start making your bed in the morning that other things will fall in line. Soon, you will notice that your bedroom is neater, and then the kitchen. As your house gets tidier, so does your purse and your car, and so on and so forth.

Just start with small writing goals and I guarantee that bigger better changes will follow suit.

5. Understand that Feelings LIE

Emotions are important, but not necessarily a useful tool for direction. Sort of like the bumper of my SUV is important, but not for helping me get directions.

Modern pop psychology loves to ask about our feeeelings all the time. Feelings are important, but they are a lousy compass to guide our actions. Why? Feelings can be affected by so many things—fatigue, diet, too much sleep, too little sleep, jerks at the office, kid toys underfoot, PMS, hormones, too much caffeine, not enough caffeine, cat vomit in our house slippers, and on and on and on.

If I can pass on any lesson that will change your life it is for you to understand that your feelings will almost always take the path of least resistance. If we are going to accomplish anything in life we cannot let our feelings have a vote.

I blog whether I feel like it or not. I don’t wait until I feel like writing to sit my tuchus in a chair. Feelings can be the enemy and steal your dreams. The Crappy Excuse Trolls and Procrastination Pixies will capitalize on your feelings and do everything in their power to convince you that you will get to it later when you feel like it. Shut them down. Don’t give your feelings a vote.

The best way to shut down your feelings is to make lists of goals. I make lists every day and it keeps me focused. I can be exhausted, disenchanted, disillusioned, but it doesn’t matter. Getting over inertia–getting started–is usually the toughest part. Discipline yourself to be a starter and it is much easier to learn to become a finisher.

6. Make a Plan

Fail to plan, plan to fail. 

A good plan will keep you focused, accountable, and give you clear benchmarks to measure success. I recommend buying NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer. He teaches how to craft a plan for a writing career. I also recommend 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Getting Things Done, and Eat that Frog. Find ways to structure your life so that you maintain peace. Anxiety and clutter kill creativity.

In the end? Just Do It. Put that slogan on a Post-It notes and paper your house if you must. Put a Troll doll on your computer to remind you to be wary of Crappy Excuse Trolls in your midst. If any of you are new and don’t know the M.O. of the Crappy Excuse Trolls and Procrastination Pixies, go here. They make 12% commission off your shattered dreams.

And remember:

  1. Grant Permission to Be Imperfect
  2. Give Baby Steps a Chance
  3. Establish Accountability
  4. Trust that Small Change will Grow into Big Change
  5. Understand that Feelings LIE
  6. Make a Plan

What are some struggles that you guys have? What are tactics you use to keep focused? What are your goals for this year? Be brave and put them in the comments. What are some goals you’ve always wanted to reach but haven’t? Why? What is your advice?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of January I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I will announce the December winners on Friday. 

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

Happy writing!

See you next year!


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  1. “Just do it” pretty much covers the revelation in my ability to reach out for things I want. I’d always been a ‘one day’ type of guy, and somewhere I just realized it was time to make my life mine.

    As for goals this year: Get my associates, finish the novel in progress, make my blog kick ass. I think those are pretty good goals.

  2. My that little troll guy is so cute, but oh so destructive. Great post, Kristen, and reminder of realistic goals and focuses as we start the new year. I swear by small change will grow into big change and am already starting to implement some of the lessons learned in 2011. For me, I also think being bare-bone honest with myself helps keep me moving forward. Being honest deals with facts/actions and does an end run around the feelings parade.

  3. There is a term, Kaizen, which means gradual change, not burning bush type change. A little bit every day adds up. As Kristen notes, trying to do too much is a self-defeating prospect.

  4. Kristen, I was laughing so hard at this entry that other diners at McAlister’s Deli turned around to stare at me!

    Seriously, though, I loved this blog entry so much that I forwarded it to another writer friend who just celebrated her first tweet. You two should meet.

    Great job!
    Kim Terry

  5. “If we cannot manage a little, why should we be given more?”

    Holy cow. This hit me right in the gut. All year last year, I planned big. I got upset because big things weren’t happening. And the whole time, I was letting the little things slip. Thank you. This is getting taped onto my bathroom mirror.

  6. I’m really good at coming up with innovation ideas and have a great work ethic but my goal for this year is to be an excellent planner and goal setter so I’ll actualize my dreams! Thank you for this powerfully informative post!

    • Denise Wolf on January 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm
    • Reply

    Very interesting about emotions. I do agree that if you wait to “feel like” whatever..unless it’s eating chocolate cake 🙂 you probably won’t do it. But I do think there is a place for listening to intuition, which you probably distinguish from emotion. I love baby stepping. We all climb the mountain one step at a time. Thanks for the post.

  7. I’ve learned to give myself permission to be imperfect, and that’s been very beneficial. I struggle when it comes to making a plan. I make plans sometimes, but almost never follow through (except in writing, the one area I do have down). I’d like to set some goals this year for prepping to take the interpreter certification test, for exercising, and for working more on my author platform as a whole. But since each of these aren’t things I’m passionate about, sticking to them will be very difficult.

  8. the novel I finished most recently taught me some things about myself. I do like the idea of a “‘timer” to keep me working. I don’t mind starting my writing if I know I can quit when the timer goes off, in case I am not feeling it. I screwed around for 18 months before I buckled down and finished, and I am not going to allow that again. The story is great, but that time frame was unacceptable.

    “fatigue will make cowards of us all”

  9. Great list for the new year, Kristen! I’m working hard on #1, my perfectionist tendencies put me in a state of procrastination far too often. #5 is a big one for me as well. I know that my feelings can’t be trusted. I mentally acknowledge this, but they have a sneaky way of by-passing logic at times. Taking deep breaths helps a lot. 🙂 And I am making a plan – actually working on a 5 year business plan for my writing. Exciting and scary at the same time! Thanks for reinforcing these principles so we can be our best for 2012. 🙂

  10. I didn’t realize I could have made you a condition of my parole. That would have been easier. My goal for this year: 1 hour a night writing my own stuff, not clients’. Seems small to the “plan big” voice in my head, but if I actually live up to it, it’ll be enough.

  11. What a great post. I’m especially glad you talked about those “feelings” addicts who use their “guts” as an excuse to mess up their lives (and bore their friends.) I knew a woman who used to always have a “gut feeling” she had some dire medical condition. Turned out it was always the same medical condition as one of her favorite soap characters was going through at the time. Our “guts” are so easily manipulated.

    Your advice about surrounding yourself with the right people is really valuable too. Once I shed the soap addicts/hypocondriacs/do-nothings from my life and started welcoming more successful people, I started getting closer to success myself. It’s hard to shed the whiners because we feel guilty “abandoning” them, but it’s amazing how soon they find other people to whine to.

    1. That was a major pivot point in my life. I had “friends” that I cared about but they never seemed to get unstuck and didn;t really want help moving forward either. It was a HUGE mental and emotional drain for me. When I cut loose, it was SO painful but necessary and I have seen tremendous change since I have determined to surround myself with excellent people…like you for starters 😀

  12. Great stuff as always Kristen. I have made a very specific list of goals for the new year. I think they’re all reachable, at least reasonable. And as you said, accountability is key, so I am telling them to people who will crack the whip. Happy New Year!

  13. I’ve got so many things happening at one time, I don’t know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt! I”m blogging, writing, refining my writing, twittering, adding new friends, building my platform, getting advice, reading and the list just goes on, so I’m certainly not procrastinating! I need to go back and re-read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People re-prioritize. A proposal letter more than anything scares me……..I’ve downloaded, uploaded, and reloaded. I haven’t killed anything yet!
    I watch my grand daughter during the day M-F and take care of my ailing father, so my best hours are 3:45 to 7:30. That’s fine. I do best after a couple of cups of java anyway. I so appreciate your books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer @ http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/2012-and-planning-for-success-in-the-new-year/#respond and will see about purchasing them online, just as soon as I get back from the hospital with my father…………….whenever that is tonight.

  14. Wow, what a GREAT blog today Kristen!!!

    I am a classic perfectionist, all or nothing, fear of failure kind of girl so I totally relate to this post. God help me or take me out of my misery.

    So I’ve posted my first ever ROW80 goals. And can I just say how much I didn’t want to do it! I went Kicking and Screaming. I was in full blown panic mode and breathing out of a bag.

    But I am determined to push myself off the ledge. I have to move forward. It was do or die.

    I am alive, so it must not have been as bad as I made it out to be. Whew! I did it! I finished your awesome class and I’m moving forward! Yea!!!! 🙂

    1. No worries, Karen – I have lots of paper bags handy if you need one to breathe into, LOL. I checked out your goals earlier today and they look great! (and I’m sure Donna would agree, too). 🙂

    • Coleen Patrick on January 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm
    • Reply

    This year I not only wrote my goals down, but the (baby) steps to get there too. Thanks for the post Kristen–btw my parole officer says hi!

  15. Wow. I had made progress against my perfectionism, I’d learned to plan baby steps, I’m trying to embrace accountability, and I’m thinking I am doing great. But just when I thought it was safe to jump back in the water you said, ‘Feelings lie.’ Holy crap! Why hadn’t I thought about that? I’ve blogged about how to beat ‘Mrs. Darkside’ and never realized she hid in my feeling bad, or too tired, or not up to the job. Great insight, Kristen. I’ll be posting that one on my computer. And I’m guessing with all that I’ve learned in 2011 from WANA1011 and others, I will meet my goals this year! Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. *deep breath* My major writng goals for this year are 1.) to revise my first book, taking it from a category romance to single-title, 2.) finish book #2, and 3.) surround myself with people of excellence. Of course, the last one is the most difficult to achieve. I’m a bit of an introvert, and I can only devote 1/2 per day to social media. But I’m working on it.

    Thanks again, for your words of wisdom, Kristen, and Happy 2012 (Minus the cat vomit on your slippers!).

  17. One of my biggest challenges is writers fatigue. Like many, I work full time in a non-creative field, I’m working on an MBA, I have a humor blog, and allegedly I’m working on a novel. After work and school, I have little mental energy left to write and so I put if off until after I take a nap, or after I surf Netflix, or after I check out Facebook or Twitter. I’ve wasted so much time that way. When I think of how long ago I started my novel and how I’m still not finished, it’s sickening.

    However, this year will be different and I plan to use some of the feedback in this blog to help. Instead of sitting in the chair and focusing on churning out 5 to 10 pages–which seems overwhelming–maybe my focus will be to just complete 2 or 3 pages a day, which is a lot more than I typically do. Because I know that I tap out in terms of writing after about an hour or so, I can break it up by doing other creative things. Today I worked on my new blog entry, “Goodbye 2011, Hello Chicken Wings,” and when I got tired of writing, I started working on the photo that would accompany the entry. When I finished that, I was ready to begin writing again because it felt like I’d taken a break although I was technically still working on the blog.

    In addition to writing more and finishing the material that I’ve started, I need to read more books and blogs. Ironically, when I don’t feel like writing, if I choose to read someone else’s blog or short stories as opposed to watching TV or taking a nap, it forces me to think about my own writing and my own goals. I want people to know that I have a voice and I hope they enjoy it, but that won’t happen if I don’t sit down and write. I want to walk into Barnes and Noble and see my work on the shelf amongst all the other authors who are just as busy as I am but yet they make time to write. Time flies. Years go by. Tomorrow is not promised. I can’t imagine hitting 2013 and still telling people that I’m working on my novel. That would be absolutely heartbreaking.

    Wish me well. I should be writing.

  18. Great advice as always Kristen. I spent years staring at the screen, the ceiling, the trail of nothing in my wake. One of the greatest things I’ve found since coming out my “man cave” is a host of people and a few wonderful groups that work to keep each other accountable and help each other move forward to attain their goals. While 2011 wasn’t everything I’d hoped for, I can say with surety that I accomplished more than in any of the previous 10 years (and more then all ten combined in the writing category at least as forward progress and growth are concerned).

    Twenty-twelve is going to be a great year and I’m glad to be on the path with you and other excellent people of #MyWANA, ROW and other groups I belong to. Peace and thanks for all you do for us.

  19. “Discipline yourself to be a starter and it is much easier to learn to become a finisher.” That is so true for me. Any fears I have (of success or failure or whatever) fall away when I start. GREAT post, especially for starting off the New Year!

  20. Great advice, Kristen! Thanks for the timely reminders. My parole’s almost up (actually, no), but I’ll still be reading your blog. 😉

    I love timers – then I don’t have to keep breaking my concentration and looking up at the clock.

    All the best for your 2012 goals!

  21. MARK THE DATE: November 11, 2011. LOCATION: Kristen Lamb’s Blog. TOPIC: Editing–Are you Butchering Your Creativity

    It was a deal changer for me. My first two mss came together quickly. Creativity flowed. I produced more working full-time while writing those two mss than I have since I chose to jump into Pursue your Passion Pond. Why? Because I wrote those two in first draft mode. I didn’t edit as I wrote, and I pulled together two decent FIRST DRAFTS that I deemed “ready to submit.”

    I wrote in a blissful state of Unconscious Incompetence: I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

    Those first two weren’t “trash.” Queries generated requests for fulls which generated “not right for us” and “didn’t care enough for the plot/character as I had hoped” rejection letters.

    I studied the craft of writing. Enter third mss and perfectionism peaked. I knew what I didn’t know and I feared to fail again. It takes me a while–sometimes a bonk on the noggin. But, your words and those of my writing buddies pulled me out of the “has to be perfect” pit.

    2012: the year of ROW80, WANA112, WWBC (thanks for the nudge, David!), Add first and final drafts on my WIP, plus the rewrite of one of my old mss. It’s going to be a great year.

    Thanks, Kristen!

  22. I almost choked on my coffee when I came to the cat vomit. I have a cat who has been giving me presents every morning for a week. Definitely not inspiring. LOL

    On the other hand, I loved the analogy of the first day of school with the new school supplies. I remember those days of the brand new pencils and tablets – yes, I’m dating myself – and that excitement I felt breaking the tablet open for the first time.

    Thanks for the great advice and inspiration.

  23. Great post–I’ll try to come back to these six points throughout the year!

    What are tactics you use to keep focused?

    I’ve found it helpful, instead of having (only) a nebulous goal of some magnificent accomplishment at the end of the year (or month, even), and instead of having some daily discipline goal that I will quickly fall off of, is to have at-least-once-every-X-days goals. Here are three examples from my 2012 goals, which I wrote about <a href-"http://www.labyrinthrat.com/"on my blog:

    • Not let two consecutive days go by without writing.
    • Not let two consecutive days go by without reading.
    • Not let three consecutive days go by without blogging.

    Those aren’t my only goals, but if you look at my list you’ll see that all my other goals will just fall into place if I keep those three.

  24. Im so happy you mentioned baby steps. I didnt understand the concept of baby steps until I lost fifty pounds and kept it off using baby steps. Prior to that I’d been following the weight loss industry standard which is to do everything they say ALL at once no matter what the diet or exercise. Long term projects need to be broken down into smaller manageable bits.

    I would like to improve my blog, increase traffic and be more consistent on Twitter and Facebook. Without you, I wouldn’t have started blogging in 2011. As you can guess, this was a goal way outside my comfort zone but a goal I’m very proud of achieving. Thanks for all you do for writers Kristen. Happy New Year!

  25. 2012 is going to be so banging for me.. I’m gonna have to wrap myself in mounds of Saran Wrap to keep from getting boo boo’s.
    Seriously… I will be published this year.
    I will run another 5k this year.
    I will go on an actual vacation this year.

    So let it be written.. so let it be done! Moo ha ha.

    tactics that keep me focused:

    *post-it’s on my lap top.
    *ROW80 accountability.
    *reading other blogs (many, many blogs).
    *my cat.

    Happy New Year!

      • Tamara LeBlanc on January 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm
      • Reply

      You GO girl!!!
      May your 2012 goals be reached!

    • Tamara LeBlanc on January 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm
    • Reply

    It’s funny you mentioned that, “feelings lie.” I believe they’ve been lying to me on and off all of my life. And this past month makes that revelation very clear to me now. Even though 2011 gave me and my family so much to be thankful for, my feelings toward writing were incredibly negative. They were toxic and because I use a laptop to write, I sometimes associate the computer with my inability to put words on the page. Because of that I actually stay away from my laptop for weeks, sometimes months. That happened this past December. I didn’t Tweet, I didn’t update my FB page, I didn’t answer emails or even look at them. And worst of all I didn’t visit my favorite teaching blogs. I stayed away from the thing that represents my failing muse.
    It’s a shame. Why do I let negativity rule my life? Why do I let guilt ovewhelm me? And why do I let feelings of inadequacy call the shots?
    After reading this post I’m much more clear on the answer, I suffer from resolution # 1…I do not give myself permission to be imperfect.
    Not only should I be marketing myself and acquiring readers, but I should also be writing. And if I write “pigeon poo” every so often, so the hell what. Pigeon poo is better than nothing at all.
    There were quite a few quotes in this post that spoke volumes to me, and, “The world does not reward perfection. It rewards people who get things done,” was one of them.
    This one, “So long as nothing is ever complete, we never have to face our demons and can happily fritter away our days perfecting our scenes and dialogue. Here’s the deal. No publishing house ever published half of a perfect book,” was such a huge ahh-haaa moment for me that I actually said ahhh-haaa out loud. I scared the crap out of my cat.
    I made a huge mistake letting negative feelings steer me away from my objective, to finish my WIP, send it to the agents who want it, and get the sucker published. Your many words of wisdom helped me see that error.
    I won’t let it happen again.
    2012 is looking brighter all ready.
    Thank you Kristen. You are an inspiration.
    Have a fabulous new year,

    1. Tamara, think of that laptop having a warm hand at the other hand to help boost you up. Feelings do lie, when you are in isolation; when you are among folks who care, they can whisper some awesome things about what you can really do! We’re here for ya, hunny!

      1. “other end” not “other hand” LOL. 🙂

        • Tamara LeBlanc on January 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you soooo much for the advice and support!
        You’re a peach 🙂

  26. I sometimes find that procrastination is my best friend when it comes to getting things done. No really! As a writer I carry around all these “shoulds”, like I should be working on the next novel RIGHT NOW and things like that. But I have also learned that if I start something before it’s ready to be started it will be twice as hard and five times as likely to fail miserably. But if I wait until I truly feel ready to write (and maybe scribble out some Harry Potter fan fiction in the time being) then when I do rev up for the real thing it comes so much more easily and I enjoy it more.

    Thanks for all of the wonderful things you do Kristen! You’re the best!

  27. I don’t know who first said it or where I heard it, but I am reminded that “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

  28. Great advice I’m all type A when setting goals then let my emotions rule how much of them I get done. So goals for 2012.
    Write 1000 words per day- this can be book or blog.
    Go to the gym 3 times per week.
    No wheat- it makes me sick I need to take care of myself and not eat it.
    Treat myself like I’m my best friend.
    If I can do these everything else will fall into place.

  29. Thanks for the timely post. A bunch of us are starting ROW80 today, and we needed a reminder to set realistic goals. I love the idea of challenging ourselves without destroying ourselves.

  30. Awesome words of advice, Kristin! I had an accountability person last year to help keep me on track with my writing goals and it was very effective. I’m always for taking baby steps. This year I think I’m going to take a lot of them and maybe I’ll get somewhere.

    Always fun to read other people’s new year’s resolutions, although I’m finding that most people prefer to call them “goals.” That word seems less intimidating I guess.

    So now I’m off to paint the garage before I spend 20 minutes on the treadmill. Because after that I have 3 hours of writing do to!

    Happy new year!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  31. First time commenter & a new reader – Hello!

    I’ve been thinking about my writing goals for the year, and after reading this post I’m convinced that I need to add “Grant Permission to be Imperfect” to the list. It may be an inherent nature of my character or perpetuated by my career (I’m an Archaeologist, perfection and meticulousness are required skills), but I’ve always stopped just short of fulfilling my creative goals. It’s just like you said, out of fear of failure and fear of success. It’s about time I allowed myself the freedom to be imperfect.

    My writing goals this year are: 1) Grant Permission to be Imperfect, 2) Kick Procrastination to the Curb, 3) Claim the Title of ‘Author’, 4) Establish a Regular Writing Schedule, 5) Write at Least 15 Minutes a Day, 6) Finish My Current WIP, 7) Rewrite Previously Completed Novel – completed before I read Story Engineering by Larry Brooks & is in need of much love and care, 8) Set up an Author Blog, 9) Find or Start a Writing Group.

    I’m halfway through my WIP thanks to NaNoWriMo, and I plan to use the same tactics I used all November. I wrote a quick list of things I wanted to write in that session and gathered my thoughts, set my timer in the program Write or Die, and let my fingers fly! It also helped that I have a story road map, which needs to be updated after a plot turn decided to show up right in the middle.

    Something else I’m trying out this year is a writing calendar (using a day planner). I’m going to use it to track my WIP progress and other writing goals, as well as keep up with movies, books, and other inspirational ideas. I love writing by hand and checking off boxes, so this seems like a good idea for me.

    I think I’ll also sign up for your blogging course in June to help me with #8. The thought of blogging scares me a bit, but it looks like so much fun!

    1. Don’t mean to be a pest, but I thought about something that’s been helpful in keeping me writing (despite my emotions). Everyday, for the past 550 days, I’ve written at least 1000 Words at 750words.com. I feel compelled to write everyday, and it helps me get my thoughts in order. It’s addictive – and I can’t resist a good badge.

  32. Howdie!
    Kick ass post! I’m reevaluating my goals for the new year too. Reading this really got my marbles rolling. I totally did NOT achieve my goals from last year and (being a professed underachiever) I thought they were rather reasonable. So after a certain amount of self depricating talk, it’s time to really make some baby step/achievable goals.

    My major goal is to find PEOPLE! I live in the boonies of southern Georgia and keep blaming it on the fact that there is no one here. I’ve decided to take action and hunt for some writers around here. *hearing crickets chirping*

    (I’d like to hug Chris Glover for his post about keeping a daytimer. I like writing in a daytimer and plan to use that idea!) thx!

    Lastly, I just want to give you a big fat shout-out. One goal I did achieve for 2011 was blogging/book reviewing. I did it. It is awesome and I have 250 followers! yay! Thanks for your sassy and totally informational posts! {{hug}}

  33. Is a nonfiction #MyWANA peep who is blushing at your praise! You are the bomb too! I stay motivated by giving myself positive suggestions for such while under self hypnosis (I also have a friend who offers free hypnosis sessions for such on YouTube.) I also find that conscious successes help too. Meaning that they build on themselves. After you accomplish a goal, no matter how small it is, you will get a mental boost to help you achieve the next one.

  34. I’m a huge believer in developing plans to achieve goals, no matter how BIG the goal. I’ve learned that no goal is unobtainable, but there are some things we need to be realistic about and the key is in not only the plan, but the execution of the plan. My main goals as a writer are still my main goal, what has changed is the plan because the world around me has changed and I’ve had to adjust.

    The hardest thing for me to do is slow down and breath. Ever see the movie Tuner and Hooch? I’m the female version of Tom Hanks. Remember when he’s at the Vet’s house and stays up all night to finish painting? I’m like that. I don’t like to stop until the job is done. That actually often gets in the way of achieving my goals. We might have one big goal, but all the supporting goals we use to achieve the end result all have purpose. I need to constantly look at those goals and take time to also enjoy the ride.

  35. Great post. Too often we make plans that sound doable but are hard to sustain. Setting moderate goals and being happy when an honest effort is put forth.

  36. I love your comments about feelings…they are, at their simplest, no more than chemical reactions to thoughts. Change your thoughts and your feelings will change. Easy but not simple.

    thanks for another great blog.

  37. Another home run. Thank you and Happy New Year.

    I like having hard calendar dates to review and check status. Usually at the end of January, February and at the end of each quarter.

  38. You’ve just kicked me in the butt a little. Again. I had a good 2011. My goals changed from the beginning (a lot), but having the goals was the most important part. I have yet to do this for 2012. I still think it’s December…

    • Marianne on January 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm
    • Reply

    I usually end up with the list you had at the beginning but have Spain instead of Bora Bora. This week, I’m coming up with a reasonable list. Maybe I’ll just try cooking Tapas.

  39. Thanks Kristen for the timely reminder.

    I love your blog but have been trying not to get sidetracked by the pixies/trolls/the internet, so haven’t been visiting it (or any blogs) as regularly for a while. Consequently, although I’ve been deleting pretty much every blog entry that comes into my inbox, but never delete yours without first reading, when I finally tackled my inbox over the weekend, all that is left in there are about 9 of your emails. You always survive the culls! Now all I have to do is settle down with a coffee, pen and and paper and catch up 🙂

    You’ve been super educational, inspiring and entertaining all year, so glad I found your blog x

    1. That makes me feel special. THANK YOU!

  40. On target and on time as always, Kristen. HNY and may all your goals for this shiny new year be realized!

  41. I’ve started my own personal writing blog, kind of a writing diary where I blog about my progress or lack of it. It keeps me on track much more. Thank you Kristen!

  42. I’m book marking this post. And printing out, and gluing, “The world does not reward perfection. It rewards people who get things done.” to my fridge. And to CP Gloria Richard’s forehead. (Love you, Glowie!)

  43. Great advice, Kristen. I have been sick and feeling pretty crappy these last couple of weeks, and this list is the kick in the pants I needed. I especially like the second point, that baby steps are okay. There’s nothing wrong with starting out small and building on that, as long as I keep my butt in the chair and get things done. Thanks for this post.

    • Monique on January 3, 2012 at 11:19 am
    • Reply

    “The world does not reward perfection. It rewards people who get things done.” is getting engraved on my laptop. I’ve written my first manuscript and now its time to edit. I’m a tidal wave of emotion going into this process. Well, “emotions do lie” and I’m going to polish that manuscript and send it in. I want to be one of the ones “who gets things done.” Thanks for the post!

    • the writ and the wrote on January 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm
    • Reply

    Excellent post. This year is all about getting things done! I have big plans and am excited to see them come to fruition.

  44. Fantastic post as always Kristen! I love New Years and how they are just like a new, shiny, fresh start at school. Thanks for outlining practical advice so eager over enthusiasts like me don’t get in over our heads.

  45. “Discipline yourself to be a starter and it is much easier to learn to become a finisher.” This sentence really spoke to me too. Procrastination is my greatest stumbling block. But once I get started, things fall into their place.

    Baby steps are really important and the bigger goals should be broken into digestable chunks. Be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timetabled). And as you pass milestones, reward yourself. And have fun 🙂

    I’ll definately print this post.

  46. I just found your blog and immediately ordered your book, “Are You There Blog, It’s Me Writer?” for my Kindle. My goal for the year is to blog and blog and blog. My long term goal is to write a book. Thanks for helping me get started!!!

  47. I just bought your book so imagine my surprise when I got a notification of a post here and it was exactly what I’d just read in the first section. I guess this is a reblog because it was so important. I’ll make sure I take notes. 🙂

    1. Actually a lot of the information is modified and updated with new information if you read down, but yes I used a lot of the advice from my book/teachings, because…yeah. Still applies. If we don’t nail these principles we will be slaves to our best intentions and perfectionism ;).

  48. What terrific advice! I also agree that blogging has helped me with the self-discipline of writing. No one knows if I add to my WIP, but they know if I missed a blog day. That attitude then wears off onto my other writing.

    I’m also in love with that proverb about iron sharpening iron. That process can cause some friction at times – like when your accountability buddies tell you get off your butt and get moving – but the rewards are wonderful. And the friendships I have made through writing are priceless.

  49. I’m just finishing your book AYTB,IMW. Immediately before that, I read WANA. After every session, I open my blog (or twitter, or FB) and make changes. And I’m STILL not done. You’re exhausting.

    Anyway, after all our time together, I feel I know you well enough to offer a tip 😀

    I noticed, when I came in today, that your tagline is the generic “Just another WordPress.com weblog” – mine was the same until I realized it in one of my scrutiny sessions. Thought you might want to change it.

    This was another great post, btw. Thanks for all you do.

    1. All right, I’m in for the drawing too … with a vengeance. Here’s my post that does a little more than mention your book:


  50. Wonderful list of things to help get us started. I really have to let go of the perfectionist thing. I’ve never considered myself one, but it reading this post a light bulb went off. I am one! I do it with my writing, exercise, etc. Problem is, it’s just an excuse for me not to do things, instead of going after them and letting the chips fall where they may. Guess getting over that will be at the top of this years list!

  51. Your advice to get a critique group that has been published or is being paid to write is so important. I remember hearing a story about a man who was successful and had hit many of his goals, but he wanted to go higher. The advice given to him was to hang out with people who had already achieved those things.

    I see it and have lived it. It makes a difference when I surrounded myself with writers on a step or two or four ahead of me. 🙂

  52. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Dana Carrier on January 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm
    • Reply

    I had written a comment to say thank you for what you wrote and it was pretty pithy, but I paused for a moment and when I started to type again, half of it went away. Guess I wasn’t supposed to be pithy. So I’ll just say “Thank you”; what you said hit the nail on the head.

  53. I don’t just like this, I love it! Thanks once again, Kristen for bringing to life those things we need to hear and yet are reluctant to admit.

    By the way, wearing mismatched socks is all the rage right now. In fact, there is a store called Little Mismatched where you can buy, yep!, mismatched socks.

    See? You’re ahead of the trend. Throw out that resolution.

    Happy 2012!!!

  54. Great advice! Once upon a time I started blogging in order to make myself consistently write. It didn’t work. Now I’m writing, blogging, translating, getting sick from too much work, getting better… My plans for this year include a non-fiction book about cats, a novel and some stories (I already have a short story collection published, another one is on the way, and my publisher tells me it’s high time I write a novel).

  55. Thanks Kristen… excellent post again!
    For me, the hard part is:

    “Trust that Small Change will Grow into Big Change”

    If I can keep that trust going and somehow add a little (a lot) or patience to the mix I might just keep myself this side of sanity! (I won’t say which side “this side” is!)

  56. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it seems like most of what you have said has some how become part of my cycle. I am a huge believer in baby steps, if not for them I wouldn’t have finished the WIP. The one that took my breath and will likely follow me around the rest of the day ( thank you very much) is that feelings LIE. Oh how I don’t want to believe that .. please tell me it’s not true.

  57. Great goals, short and succinct.
    Love the prompt to surround yourself with like-minded, work-minded role models.

    Happy to have been guided to your site by one of them and will be checking out your other posts and books.

    Bonne Continuation!

  58. This one is getting printed out. Yes, for the first time since second grade, I feel that I need a troll. Mine is computer problems. They drive me crazy, but I’ve also used them as an excuse for too long.

    • Sabrina Alexander on January 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm
    • Reply

    “…your feelings will almost always take the path of least resistance. If we are going to accomplish anything in life we cannot let our feelings have a vote.”

    I posted this on my FB page. Truer words never spoken.

  59. Gosh, am so glad I stumbled into your blog Kristen. This is epic writing. I love your writing voice too. You are spot on the baby steps. They are still steps…. Definitely check out the groups you mentioned on twitter. I now need to explore this blog. Thanks for this great wealth of information.

    • Amanda on January 13, 2012 at 2:12 am
    • Reply

    I was surprised you didn’t mention insticts. My instincts have always driven me true. Instincts are not to be mistaken with wishy washy feelings. Instincts are the voice in your gut that tells you what direction is the right one. It can be drowned out by too many other people trying to tell you what to do but your job is to listen to your instincts first then listen to other’s opinions & make up your own mind.
    As for goals for this year (by the way I like the word ‘goals’ as opposed to ‘resolution’ or ‘deadline’) 1. Have a finnished manuscript by my birthday (july), 2 teach my 2 year old half of the alphabet by picture & sound.

  60. Kirsten – some people struggle because they cannot work out what they really want or the list of what they think they want lacks passion. I wrote this for folk like that: First, Know What You Want – why goals don’t work and how to make them… http://www.amazon.com/dp/1907498559 Might be useful for those who are stumbling over the first step. Andrew

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