Goals and plans for the new year

I have to admit that new years' resolutions make me uneasy. Part of it is the contrariness of not wanting to blindly do what so many others are doing. Part of it is the fact that January 1 is just an arbitrary division, and treating it as more than that is suspect. And the main part, really, is that resolutions so often seem to be treated as drastic and unsustainable life changes, where the goal is simply to see how long you can stick to it, but with no expectation of actually improving anything long-term (except at most vague imaginations of some idealized version of yourself).

That said...goals, I've found, are very important. I always knew they were. When I was in experiential education, we would even create challenges that reinforce how much goals can help, and it was clear from group behavior that they really did. Yet until a couple of years ago, I wasn't really setting goals for writing, thinking that between the unpredictability of life with small children and the unpredictability (and uncontrollable-ness of certain aspects) of a writer career, it just wasn't worth trying. When I did start setting goals two years ago, it wasn't in the context of the new year so much as a result of reading Jeff Vander Meer's The Writing Life. So I set out to create a (n admittedly loose) 5-year plan, a (much more defined) 1-year plan, and a series of monthly and weekly tasks that would get me to those plans. I found, as I should have known I would, that the goals and tasks helped tremendously.

At about the same time, I began participating in a weekly, public goal-setting forum (titled, ironically enough, "Agraphia," which refers to a pathologic inability to write...), and that too did wonders for spurring me to accomplish what I have done. And three years of participating in National Novel Writing Month has taught me that I work well with that kind of publicly stated goal, even as I haven't really gotten involved in the other aspects of NaNo.

So I do believe firmly in goals, and a new year is a convenient time to reconsider those goals and think about what to do to achieve them. At this point, my 5-year plan is down to three years. I've revised it some, but I still want to reach those same things by that time, so I haven't created a new longer-timeline set of goals yet. Some I've already accomplished, actually. My goals for this year, then, include getting my novel Descent of Balloons out to agents (and/or publishers), doing the first revisions of the novel I finished in December (possibly titled Fugitives of the Avocet Road), and writing more short fiction than I have the last couple of years. Somewhat beyond my control (except for the tasks of submitting intelligently and often), is to have a second SFWA-qualifying sale and to acquire an agent. There are various other goals and tasks for the year, but that's the general outlines of what I hope to accomplish this year. If I have any resolutions, then, it's simply to be diligent about setting out my tasks to achieve them.