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On Setting Goals and Resolutions

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Image by Phillip Kofler from Pixabay

In our last writer's group meeting, we discussed goal setting and resolutions. We talked about setting SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound), as opposed to making resolutions that tend to be more general, vague, and therefore get broken by the end of January. For instance, you're more likely to stick with "I'll write 500 words every day" than with "I will write more".

But, we were also talking about how setting goals sometimes kills the soul of the work, the creative process. A few people agreed that when they try to force the writing to come, it usually doesn't. And if it does come, it's too corporate, too structured, too limited. Which I totally get. And I think there's a delicate balance that writers and artists must achieve.

For me, I need a balance, a mid-way, between letting the writing slip and putting pressure on myself. When I don't set goals, if I just "let myself be" then I will probably get nothing done. It's too easy to get sucked into the daily kids-house-social media spiral, and then I don't write for days or weeks on end. Sometimes that happens even if I do set myself goals, of course. For example, a couple of days ago, I had two hours in which my mum took the kids to see a show of some kind, and I planned to write this post and read. Guess what happened? Facebook happened.

But, as I found out earlier this year, sometimes I put too much pressure on myself. Scheduling myself too much has started to feel too constricting. And I wrote about it a little bit in that post, but I do think this has to do with the transformation I'm experiencing. That sounds a bit dramatic, but I'm leaving it in because it's also accurate. I've been on a journey and I'm changing. Four years ago, making a mistake would have been the end of the world—even a little mistake like missing an appointment or not having the energy to cook a healthy dinner. Now, I can go on stage and bomb, and then write about it. I can make mistakes, and I can learn from them.

So, maybe, setting goals or scheduling myself isn't that important anymore. Maybe I'm not so anxious about disappointing people that I have to be in control every single minute of every single day. Or maybe, if I can make mistakes, then I can also set goals and miss them, and that's ok. Maybe I can learn from that, too.

I'm writing this post because this being the end of the year and the end of the term, I've been doing some reflection and I've been thinking about my work process. I like having specific, concrete goals like I've been having over the last term. It feels like I'm making progress. So I'm going to stick with my process for now and check again around Easter to see if it's still working for me.


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