It’s that time of year. Yes, December. And all through the month the internet is filled with good intentions. I’ve already read several blog posts shared by fellow writers on setting some new year goals, which have come at exactly the right moment for me.
This week after the hectic nature of the previous month, I had intentions of taking a small break and drilling down on some new goals for myself anyway. I’ve been feeling antsy about my writing for some time now – my passion has drained on writing in one genre, and I’ve realised that the true more authentic me has been a little swamped under trying to be “professional” (what ever that means). Whether it is simply an end-of-year blahs, or something else – drilling out some new goals will help me nut out and work though it.
Of course, through all this I continued to write…and come up with new ideas that I want very much to write. But my problem is that there are too many projects on some kind of boil – filling up and overflowing the stovetop. Of course many of them will boil over, dry up, and possibly start a house fire. Others will just simmer out.
But possibly the ones that make it to the table aren’t the right ones to focus my passions on.
Do you ever get that feeling?
Many new writers follow the advice that we must produce a lot of books, free stuff, newsletters, blog posts, to build our brand – but this work, like any, comes with repercussions: nowadays we just don’t have the capacity to simply sit down and foster one good solid writing project through to maturity. Perhaps part is the quick attention rules we live and move-on by, perhaps some fomo (feelings of missing out) leaked from our younger generations, perhaps some is just pure good business sense.
The cost of working in such a multiplexity of projects is burnout, or even not completing something. Mmmm. My problem.
Here locally, my daughter just completed her end of year school day yesterday (with all the appropriate pomp and ceremonies). Now that she is on her long summer holidays, my time spent alone and writing will be seriously squashed, but that’s something that I always plan around in my yearly thoughts. What the hot summer days do give me, is the opportunity to refresh and refind my passions and where I want to go next year.
Realising I need a total refresh and relook at what really drives me, I’ve started off with a few lists and plans. Perhaps the following resource links may be of help to my fellow writers if they, too, are goal planning their 2014 writing plans over this month.
1. Refinding Passions, and Controlling All those Projects
Scott Dinsmore is the entrepreneur, coach and founder of liveyourlegend. If you signup to Scott’s newsletter you will get a huge pack of free ebooks and links to help out. The Passionate Work Toolkit includes some 2013 Goal Setting and Action workbooks (which are usable for 2014 also), some posters, some marketing or social guides, some self-education resources and two ebooks on finding your passion – The 27 Questions to Find Your Passion Workbook and Find Your Why Workbook.
These are really useful, but what I found personally invigorating was Scott’s link to his post: Learn Warren Buffett’s 5-Step Process for Prioritizing True Success, and the Passionate Work Toolkit also provides a small PDF: Prioritize Success Like Warren Buffett Workbook which simply templates out some prioritisation steps in choosing only 5 projects to work on at the time.
–> Signup for this large free package of ebooks at liveyourlegend.
Warren Buffett’s 5 Project Process:
I had no idea who Warren Buffett is (and had to look him up) – personally he looks like the Grandfather or Father I never had other than in my dreams – but Buffett’s 5 step success process really made sense to me. Having learned he’s an American billionaire investor and business magnate, I now would suggest he and Scott Dinsmore have kindly given us some simple steps for investing in ourselves, and to control the insanity of trying to achieve something these days.
Firstly we are asked to list out 25 projects we really (REALLY! MUST!) really want to achieve over the next 1-5 years. Then we must choose only 5 of them. All the rest, no matter how tempting they may be, should not be touched.
On first attempting my 25 list, I struggled between real projects – longer term concepts like novels, or books, and what I saw as proper work (which can sometimes be equally invigorating, but distracts from the projects). For a while my list included things like blog posts, newsletters, and even free content giveaways which are designed as wrap arounds for building platform or also promoting the products that actually come out of a life project.
When I mistakenly included those large repetitive tasks, my project list hit the roof (explaining a lot of my hamster-in-a-wheel-running approach) – and yet it didn’t readily include the other creative pursuits that really make me happy. I also wondered how I should categorise reading – something writers are meant to do (which makes it sound like just another task) or was this a separate project to do with nurturing my creativity or soul?
What I decided – because it’s my goals, my life, and my sanity – was to list simply writing and creative projects and not the maintenance tasks around them. Once I’d got that list, it became easier (which is a contradiction in term) to prioritise down to find my top passionate five to start the new year off with. But why start there? I have started this month, if slowly.
My top five projects include two small non-fiction manifestos, a fiction YA superhero novel, a short fiction anthology, and a year long creative/learning project. All the rest – all the other novels half written, are in my NO-TOUCH list. As I’ll be finished one of those manifestos very shortly, I have number six already ready to go.
Having 5 projects, and the intellectual authorisation that I can work on those five as a passion, actually drives my passions. I can bounce between a non-fiction project, a creative project, and a fiction project should I need to jig my motivation or break from something. I can plan in one week, two weeks, three, on working on only one project, never mind the juggling of others.
2. About Goal Setting, Themes and Planning Out Your Goals
Over the next month I’m sure there will be some great posts on actually building yearly plans for writers, based on those goals we came up with. But I already possibly have a favourite: –
Angela Ackerman’s guest post at Jane Friedman’s site – The 7-Step Business Plan. Read the full post for a quick explanation for each step summarised below: –
- Find your themes
- Assign importance
- Pick two or three main goals
- Set a timeline for each goal
- Bring it together in a one-page plan
- Commit and challenge yourself daily.
Angela suggests choosing 2-3 main goals, whereas using Warren Buffet’s process, I’ve chosen 25 passion-inducing goals (which will no doubt change) but drilled down to working on only five of them. As I’ve included two very small manifestos amongst my top five, I’ve given myself grace to work on three larger ones through the year, and leeway to move in another top goal within a few weeks.
I wanted to discuss the ‘Find Your Themes’ step in Angela’s business plan. Angela uses the term to categorise the goals or as an area of focus. As another way to think about theme is about passion or a total theme for the year – the one area you are driving at.
Last year, in my typical New Years Goals/Resolution type posts, I spoke about the One Word concept – taken from my older scrapbooking/creative days. My word choice of 2013 was “Written” – I combined it with a colour theme also. I chose green, which I later found out has scientific studies finding green embarks creativity. In that old post I also mention that Chris Brogan chooses three words each year. The post includes links out to resources for more detail on many ways to choose goals.
–> Get the template and read the details on Angela Ackerman’s The 7-Step Business Plan.
Unlike some of my goals over the year, I can thankfully suggest my “One Word” choice for this past year have definitely been achieved. I have written, and close to 1 million words.
What’s your theme for next year? I decided mine can again be encompassed into “One Word” and a colour. Here’s mine:
I also wanted to mention that one of the reasons I particularly found Angela Ackerman’s post helpful for me, is that she has included a free planning template in Google spreadsheet docs format. You can download it from the post, or use the image as a basis for creating your own. Angela’s basic plan lists theme (areas of focus), the goals, some rough timings, and importantly – some action items to carry out each goal. She also includes an area to write a mission, and a daily challenge reminder.
I’ve previously used larger business plan templates for my annual writing plans, and for larger projects I write out some gantt plans and a marketing/business/book plan. But Angela’s very high level one-page plan is exactly what I needed at this point in my plans and goals process.
Where I’m at
It’s only December 5th. No hurry. I have a good grip of what I’m going to focus on, what I’m working on currently, and timelines, but there’s room still for change. And there should be – because if something doesn’t appear to be working, then I’ve obviously mistakenly chosen the wrong goals – if there is anything I do know, it’s that if we don’t work on goals and things we are chronically passionate about, dream about, and can’t see life without, then something’s wrong.
And now I’m going out to do something I’ve missed over the last month – some reading.
The post also took place in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for December. You can find other #IWSG participants at the website here.
Happy goal choosing.