When I Grow Up

Reflecting and Planning

goals 2017

A new year brings new hope, new plans. 2016 was a tumultuous year, politically and socially and will be sure to have a chapter in the history books. Looking at my first post of 2016 and reflecting on the year that just ended, I see that I have done just what I wrote about in my column last week. I had set goals for the year, which like life in general, evolved and changed.  Personally the year had its ups and downs; professionally, I made progress and am overall happy with the results. The two are of course interrelated and each affected the other.

Looking at numbers, in 2016 I:

That’s over 200 pieces published and more in the works.

Looking at my 2016 “plan for the year,” I have achieved some success and have made adjustments:

The book was largely put on hold last year as I focused on other writing and realized I want to make significant changes to make the book better. I plan to schedule more time to work on it this year while pursuing new freelance opportunities. I want to complete it this year.

I wrote and submitted many pieces this year and have grown tremendously as a writer and as a person. About halfway through the year, I came across a piece of advice: as a writer, one should not focus exclusively on success, but set goals with a focus on attempts. The goal would be to have 100 rejections in a year, as this means that you are writing and submitting regularly. When counting both rejections and a lack of a reply for both completed pieces and pitches, my total for the year is 102. This has taught me to not take rejection personally (though it is tough on those weeks when they come in series) and to review, revise (if necessary) and get pieces back out there as most will be published, it’s just a matter of finding the right home (I currently have 12 pieces awaiting a home). In the process I have gotten some lovely rejection letters encouraging me to try again and have had some editors come to me with stories to write.

Though I made little progress on my family tree, Family Tree Magazine’s Family History Writing Challenge during the month of November was inspiring and gave me new ideas and research avenues to pursue (and I was thrilled that they shared some of my posts on Facebook and Twitter). Earlier in the year I set up a family Facebook page for one of my lines to share pictures and have connected with family members on Facebook. Though I have yet to meet some family members in person, I hope we can make that happen early this year.

I connected with many other writers and editors in the last year and look forward to meeting some of them in person this year as I hope to attend a writers’ conference this spring or early summer. These contacts have led me to new sources and have been generous with their praise and advice. Friends are essential to a happy, fulfilling life and I am blessed to have several new people I can call friend this year.

I have not spent as much time outside as I would like and my dog is especially unhappy about this. I know that I need to unplug more and that the outdoors and physical activity are rejuvenating, but I sometimes get caught up and lose track of time. Heeding the call from the outdoors is something I need to work on (I need to schedule my time better overall). I also did not spend the time with friends I would have liked to. This is also something that I need to schedule.

Juggling continues to be a struggle for me. I am committed to putting family first, so on occasion my writing time has been limited. As with other things mentioned here, scheduling my time better (and making people aware of the schedule) should help. This makes this year’s goal rather obvious: scheduling.

I plan to take my list making to a new level. Though I don’t have the personality to be a slave to a schedule, I want to create a working one, one that can be flexible and adapt to the current need (which sometimes may be to step away from the keyboard to attend to people matters or to simply unplug and do nothing). I want to go easier on myself and my family (I get cranky when I don’t meet my goals) yet still make regular progress. I haven’t looked at last year’s plan until today, so that should change. I need to schedule (yes again) a time to re-evaluate the re-focus if necessary. I am starting to use technology to help organize but am frustrated by the learning curve (again with the scheduling!) I have been talking about setting a calendar for the past few months. I guess now is the time to sit down and actually do it.