30 December 2011

The Last Top Five Friday of 2011: Learning to Set Goals

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. 
~ Victor Frankl

This weekend, we will all make resolutions.  And we will keep them for about a week; two if we’re strong; all year if you’re Mother Teresa.   As I mentioned on Tuesday, I  set out to start 2012 out differently.  This time, I would make goals and by gosh, by golly, I was going to keep them and realize them!  But where to begin?  And how to  make it stick this time?

A wise man once said that you should surround yourself with people smarter than yourself so that you can learn from them.  So I did what I do best ~ read what other, smarter and more successful goal-setters were saying on the subject.

Some articles were about as helpful as a raincoat in Death Valley.  Others were too clichéd.  And some knocked my pen top off.  Today, I bring you the top five articles I found helpful in setting my 2012 goals.

I have mentioned Christine Valters Paintner here and here before.  She is an amazing person with a big heart, a gifted writer, and an affirming mentor.  In Give me a Word, she encourages us to do some soul searching and come up with a word for the year. 

I’ve been choosing a word to describe how I want my year to be for awhile now and was excited to learn that someone else does this too!  I’m still pondering and meditating on what my word for 2012 will be.

In addition to Goodlife, Mary Jaksch is also one of the main writers behind the great writers blog, Write to Done.  Which reminds me, I need to do one of their blogging boot camps in 2012 ~ add that to the goal list!

While this article is not about goal setting specifically, Mary lays out some great steps to help find peace amidst the turmoil and chaos that life can throw at us.  I don’t know about you, but peace seems like a pretty good goal to me! 

I love how silence is step number one.  With all of us being plugged in 24/7, now is a good time to make an appointment with and for yourself to unplug, unwind, and take time to just think about where you are and where you want to be.

I love Barrie Davenport.  She’s another great writer and mentor in the blogosphere. Her posts break things down in manageable steps and she’s always ready with an encouraging word. 

Personal Development highlights twelve steps to prepare for goal-setting.  She takes the tired old resolutions we all used to make [lose weight, exercise more] and repackages them in ways that make “the medicine go down” so to speak. 

For instance, Barrie asks “What have you been feeding your beautiful, amazing body over the last year?”  A question that forces you to examine your eating habits while at the same time affirming your beauty and the goodness of the body.  So much easier than “I resolve to lose weight.”

I keep returning to this site for career and business advice.  But it can also be used for mapping out personal growth.  From this article, they link to several other ones on goals, such as Backward Goal Setting, and Motivate Yourself.

Allyson Whipple is a blogger on SheWrites.  She has an excellant list of broad writing goals with a breakdown into categories and smaller steps for 2012 that is worth reading and adpating to your own writing goal needs.  I found it helpful when developing my own list. 

The key to goal keeping is to break things down to a manageable level, something most of these sites do.  Having one large list of broad goals is not only unrealistic, it’s overwhelming.  Not everyone throws up their hands at such a list and gives up right at the start, but for most of us, it’s tempting. 

Smaller steps give us opportunities to succeed early in the game and reward ourselves.  They also give us permission to fail and try again, thereby ensuring we actually will try again.

Here’s to growing stronger and healthier on all levels in 2012!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

27 December 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Goal Time!

It is never too late to be who you might have been. 
~ George Eliot

It is almost January.  Another year gone.  Where in the world does the time go?  A long time ago, when I was just turning thirteen or fourteen, someone told me that once I hit high school, time would simply fly.  They were right.  And each year it just seems to go by faster and faster.

This year is no different.  Once September hit, life began to resemble the Indy 500 and things didn’t slow down until yesterday.  Planning an arts festival, Thanksgiving dinner, and a Christmas party beats the stuffing out of you.  Not to mention having pesky gallstones earn you a couple of stays in the hospital and catching a nasty cold that leave you too weak to eat even the bland diet the gallstones have you on.  Autumn 2011 was a hell of a time!

Now I am pain-free (although not yet gallstone-free) and have some time to reflect on where this year has taken me and what path I’d like to take next in the coming months.  And since telling someone your goals makes it (hopefully) more likely that you will actually accomplish them, I am going to share mine with you, dear readers.

Goal #1: Write More
This is always the first goal/resolution I make every January.  And I do fairly well in January. February I lose a little steam.  March comes and I get a second wind.  April brings spring fever, and by the time May arrives, I’m exhausted.  It just does downhill from there!

So this year, I decided to tool around reading what other writers and normal people (ha!) were saying about their goal making.  I’ll be posting a list of  the top five ones I found, but I’d like to highlight one (consider it Number Five and a Half if you will) today: http://www.michelleschaeffer.com/.  Michelle always has great tips for blogging, marketing, etc.  Read her entire article on setting goals here.

She suggests breaking your goals down into steps and targets.  Doh! Why didn’t I think of that!?  Not only is this helpful for mapping out where you want to be in twelve months, you can break things down into manageable steps that hold you accountable, so this year you may actually not default on your goals!  Yes! 

With this new power tool in hand, my writing goals now look like this:

1.      Post to this blog at least twice a week.
a.      If I post more than three times a week for a month, I get to treat myself to a new pen! (I really, really, like pens.  Especially fountain pens.]
2.      Respond to all personal letters within two weeks of receiving the letter. (I have a lot of pen pals and friends who write deliciously long, snail-mail letters!)
a.      I would have put a reward of stationary here, but I already need a twelve-step program for the boxes and boxes I have already.
3.      Submit one piece of poetry or personal essay a month to five different magazines or journals.
a.      I think this is its own reward ~ especially if I get published.
4.      Journal at least three times a week. 
a.      This can include Morning Pages, poetry, or general personal rants and raves.  Just journal!
b.      I already have my reward for this: a gorgeous, new, hardback journal.  I hope to have the spine broken in by February.

Goal #2: Personal Growth

5.      Develop one new healthy coping mechanism.
a.      They say it takes thirty days to develop a new habit, and our coping mechanism are just that: habits.  Usually bad ones.  Learning a new, integrated one will help heal the wounds that the old mechanism was simultaneously protecting and scratching at.
6.      Develop a weekly exercise routine that is sustainable.
a.      This means fun.  And being outdoors as much as possible.
7.      Hire a professional organizer and be clutter-free in 2012!
a.      This will also help with Goal #1.
8.      Eat 80% raw (already doing this for the most part)
a.     Reward? My gallbladder will thank me.  Not to mention having to buy yet another new pair of jeans in the last four weeks because the old new ones are already falling off of me. Yes!

Goal #3: Giving Back

9.      Plant a sustainable, organic vegetable and herb garden in the Spring.
a.      This includes research, planning, and hiring some manly labor if necessary. 
1)     Beer and pizza are acceptable forms of payment for aforementioned manly labor.
b.      Donate any surplus produce to the local food bank or soup kitchen.
10.  Volunteer at least once a month at the charity of your choice. 
a.      Yes, The Saint Cecilia Group counts.
b.      No, it can’t SCG every month.
11.  Write your mother a letter.
a.      You would be surprised at how difficult this one can be!
12.  Go on retreat.
a.      Because if you don’t first give back to yourself, how will you be able to give back to others?

12 goals for 2012.  Whew!  That’s seems a tall order! Actually, that means I should add one more:

13. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to fail.  It means you tried.

What are your goals for 2012?  Feel free to share in the comment section!

Oremuc pro invicem,
 ~ Mikaela