It’s December. Already. Rudolph is in heavy training for his marathon sleigh-guiding gig. The elves in Santa’s workshop are getting overtime pay. And Santa’s fueling his carbs intake with cookies and milk, as Mrs. Claus lets out the seams of his red suit.
While all that good stuff is going on, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. To take a look in the rear view mirror at the map points of your journey. Check your goals for the year and see where you’ve met or exceeded them. Ponder the goals you missed and try to determine what prevented you from nailing them.
It’s not that we have to be perfect, meeting every goal and tying it up with a golden bow. But analyzing what we’ve done helps us when we get ready to set new goals for the coming year.
Yes, you read that right. We all need to come up with new goals. And we need to make those new goals a little bit of a stretch. To go beyond what we did this year. After all, we’ve already met these goals. (Or missed them. Or kicked them to the curb.) The point is, if we don’t try something a bit more difficult each year, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, we stop improving. Then eventually, we grow discouraged, and we just stop.
I don’t want to stop writing. And I’ll bet if you’re reading this, you don’t want to stop either. So what are you going to do in 2014 to grow beyond where you are today? I’ll wait while you give that a few minutes of thought.
If last year you decided to write 200 words each day, can you reach for 500 next year?
If you entered one contest in 2013, can you enter three in 2014?
If you wrote by yourself all year, can you find a writers’ group in which to participate? (Key word = participate.)
If you were a member of a writers’ group or critique group, can you give more thoughtful comments and critiques to your fellow writers?
If you completed a manuscript, can you send it to an agent next year?
If you read one book on how-to-write, can you read six in the next twelve months?
If you took one hour-long class on some aspect of writing, can you sign up for and attend one each month for the next year?
Why don’t you take the next couple of weeks and decide on some new steps in your writing career. If you look over the above list again, you’ll see it calls for no giant leaps in performance. Just small steady progression toward your writing career goals.
As you contemplate what your writing life will look like in 2014, challenge yourself. Expect to be a better writer. Then plan it.
How will you stretch yourself in the coming year? When you’ve decided, share some of your ideas in the comments.