Monday, December 29, 2008

Resolutions, Dreams or Goals?

Almost a year ago, I blogged about Roxanne St. Claire's goal-setting workshop. Her advice is as valuable today as it was then.

With the new year just days away, how many of you have started looking forward? Are you reflecting on what you accomplished this year? Did you make a lot of resolutions? How long before you broke them?

I jokingly say I make resolutions for hubby -- no chance of ME breaking them. But resolutions are too lofty, too vague, and usually are setups for failure. "I'm going to lose 20 pounds" is not the way to go. Rather, figure out what it will take to meet that goal, and then keep track. I'm going to exercise X minutes a day, X days a week. I'm going to cook healthy meals. I'm going to eat X portions of carbs. I'm going to join Weight Watchers. Those things can be measured, and when you add up the healthy choices, you'll be able to meet a daily goal, and be that much closer to your 'dream'.

Goals are NOT dreams. Goals have to be something you can measure. Something you can control. Your goals might be steps toward a dream, but they're not the dream itself.

I might have a dream of seeing my books on the shelves at WalMart or the grocery store -- places where people can find them if they're looking, stumble across them if they're not. Not have to go on line, or walk to the customer service desk and ask someone to order the book. A goal of having something to point to and say, "I wrote that." (Or, better yet, so my mother can say, "My daughter wrote that.")

I have no control over what a publisher will buy. But I do have control over writing the best book I can. I finished two books in 2008. One, Hidden Fire, is published, but at the moment is available only in digital format. The other, as yet untitled, is in the final editing phase before I send it to my agent.

I did get an agent. That was more of a 'dream' because again, I had no control over whether or not my work will resonate with an agent. But what I have control over is getting the query letters out. I could measure it, by setting a goal of having X number of queries active at all times. But now, selling the book is a dream, because it's out of my hands. My agent has the sequel/spinoff to When Danger Calls, and we share the goal of selling it, but I have no control over that one. Instead, I moved on and wrote another book.

Right now, my task is to cut 8000 words from my WIP. That's a depressing and daunting task. But I can set a goal to read and edit 3 chapters a day. That's something I can measure, something I can say, "Yes, I did that."

But I also have to consider the fact that with the publishing market as tight as it is, I probably need to write another book, one with a totally different concept. Sounds like a dream -- it'll need breaking down into measurable steps. Like, find 4 story ideas in the newspaper/television/radio every day.
You can't wait for the muse to visit--you have to get out and ambush her.

And if you got this far, here's a late holiday gift. One of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press has a free holiday cookbook made up of contributions from its authors. You can download the file here.

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