Every year in December I do a little exercise that helps review the year gone past and prepare for the year that’s coming. It helps you think back to moments you’d like to remember from the year that’s ending and it helps you set goals for the year that’s coming.
It’s more than just a look back – it encourages you to think about people who bring you joy or gratitude, which is a great exercise in itself, and gets you thinking about the people you’ll need to tap into or rely on to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. It reminds you that the year can have its ups and downs – you have your wins and you have your challenges, but this year, what will you do to take care, to give back and to find meaning?
I’ve been doing this exercise since 2013 – you’ll notice that that’s the year that it first appeared on the Globe & Mail’s website and thank the Internet gods that the link is still good – and I really enjoy looking back and thinking, oh, wow… is that what I saw my year looking like?
Embedding the Ideas
One year I wrote myself a list of places I’d like to see and explore. I was living in Asia at the time, where flights were cheap and plentiful and there were no shortage of ideas as to where I should go for a weekend away. That year’s travel bucket list had probably 15 items on it, everything from the Great Wall of China to the casinos of Macau. I made it to neither – but I did get to about eight or 10 of the places I’d been dreaming about, plus dozens more. (I spent three weekends out of four travelling – my life and income level was a little different then!)
Yet it was only when I reviewed my “Year in Review” that I even remembered I’d written that travel list. Something about putting it down embedded it in my brain and propelled me forward with it.
Resolutions for Writing
Lately, I’ve taken to jotting down some realistic writing goals when I do these look-back exercises. How many stories can I get completed? How many can I get published? How many submissions can I realistically make? Is there a contest I’d love to enter? A residency that looks particularly appealing? A draft I set down in frustration but should get a second look?
I like a bit of challenge and I’m motivated by the accountability factor of saying (even if only in a Year in Review that no one but me will see!) what I’m hoping to achieve way down in the depths of my delicate writer’s heart. One year I said I’d like three stories finished and at least one published. I did get one published – but not three to the stage I considered them “finished.”
I’m getting there, though!
This year my goal is to get two drafts of my novel finished, three short stories done and at least two published. I’d also like to do another 30 day writing challenge. And I’d really love to take another crack at the screenplay I started last year. But that is a really ambitious list – I’ll be lucky to do the first few!
Still, now that it’s out there, hopefully it’s wormed its way into my brain.
If you’re looking to set some creative goals this year, here’s a worksheet:
And if you’re at a loss for what kinds of writing goals could be set:
- The Creative Penn
- This – Unraveling your 2017 – was recommended by Sarah Selecky and it’s a deep dive and really gets you thinking about how to get where you want to go in 2017. Enjoy!
(photo courtesy of Natalie B)