Why Yearly Goals Are THE DEVIL For Me

“There isn’t any secret. You sit down and you start and that’s it.”
~ Elmore Leonard

New-Year Resolutions list

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This month I’m taking a course with Margie Lawson called Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, which I would recommend to anyone.

Margie might have geared the course toward writers, but I’ve already talked a painting/designer friend into taking it as well.

[Note: The friend is Clair, from Can a Cup ‘o Joe Make Your Man a Ho?]

I’m only on Lesson 4 of eight for the month and I’ve already identified at least five things that will make me more productive forever.

At the beginning of this course, I stumbled across an email draft of my 2013 goals. (Coincidence? I think not.) It was an appalling moment, looking at that list, and realizing I’d only accomplished one. Out of seven fabulous goals, I’d pulled off…ONE.

And then Margie had us examine our thinking and our previous goal lists to find out where we fall short.

The most important thing I learned from all those 2013 goals?
I am not a “yearly list” kind of girl.

The goals are too big and they overwhelm me. I get lost inside them, and then I feel like a hideous, pitiful loser (I told you this process is not logical). I had the same issue with quarterly goals, although it wasn’t quite as bad.

Here is my new list for this month (and only this month):

  1. Complete Margie’s DSDB class.
  2. Write at least 15 mins of fiction 5-6 days a week – shoot for 30 mins.
  3. Meet with friend on the 9th to make a first steps freelance plan.
  4. Submit 2 queries for freelance work – doesn’t matter where.
  5. Sign up to teach ONE online course to begin no earlier than mid-to-late February.

You know what the beautiful thing is about my new plan? With only a few small goals each day, I get $hit done and then I feel better about myself.

Margie’s material is proprietary so you have to take the class if you want it (she has packets too), but I will share one little thing that described my old approach to goals:

A Negative spiral. Or – How to set yourself up to FAIL

  • Make a big, overwhelming list
  • Attempt a few items
  • Allow yourself to be distracted, do other things
  • Regarding your list items – Fail
  • Become depressed
  • Ignore list
  • Misuse time
  • Accomplish little
  • More depression

Yep, that was ME the first week of January…feeling like a failure. And it wasn’t logical.

This last weekend, I made a writing resume for the freelance endeavor I described above. I had to list all the writing stuff I do and put it in resume form. My change coach (who holds me accountable to for all this) had to remind me of like 5 things I’d have left off and by the time I was done, the list and it’s descriptors were TWO pages.

That’s not “accomplishing nothing.”

I was exhibiting what Margie calls “faulty thinking.” (Focusing on my shortcomings and ignoring my successes.)  Slowly, I’m coming to the realization that it doesn’t really matter what I didn’t do, it matters what I WILL do.

In short, my previous thinking was undiluted crapola.

I’m sure I’ll slide again on the faulty thinking front, but those lists of yearly goals every December/January? I’m done with those forever.

I’m a daily/weekly/monthly goal girl now, and I am never going back.

How do you approach goals? What kinds of faulty thinking do you suffer from? What’s the #1 “goal avoidance” behavior you engage in? Who holds you accountable? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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29 Responses to Why Yearly Goals Are THE DEVIL For Me

  1. I took Margie’s DSDB course several years ago and totally agree that we often set ourselves up to fail. I met Sherry Isaac during that course and she’s become my career coach. [Send sympathy cards to her. She’s earned them.] Sherry is revisiting Margie’s course this year using her lecture packet? I should have followed her lead. It contains valuable insight and self-discovery that warrants multiple visits.

    I am also a short-term goals kind of gal. I like to take one step at a time on the ladder. Looking up or down from too great a height gives me vertigo. Physical or mental? Doesn’t matter.

    The lesson I have to reintroduce myself to is the Swiss Cheese method. Take bites out of a project. Even if those bites are fifteen minutes while you’re waiting at the chiorpractors, eating YogurtLand Frozen Cheesecake and Red Velvet yogurt with caramel sauce, or taking a break from packing yet another box in prep to move.

    I still think of her ‘DUH’ on tasks I dread. Do it first. Understand that it won’t be fun. Hooray! Celebrate when you complete that dreaded task..

    Sadly, there are days I think about thinking about thinking about taking a shower and decorating my face. Yes. I do eventually shower each day. Yes. My day becomes much better after I shower and dress.

    OK. I came. I commented. ‘Tis time to destinkify and get decorated for the day.

    Thanks, Jenny, for the Margie boost!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      THAT’s where you met your partner-in-crime, Sherry? I had no idea. I enlisted Laura to be my PIC and she is kicking my ass most completely. She’s an excellent coach.🙂

      Eating YogurtLand Frozen Cheesecake and Red Velvet yogurt, huh? I could so go coffee-ing and snack-ing with you!

      Oh, and last thing? You shower and do make-up EVERY day??? What kind of wonder woman are you?

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    • Ever since I read Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog” I’ve learned the importance of taking the thing on your list you least want to do and attacking it. Funny thing about it is, as you mentioned, it’s not fun…but even more, I started to realize it’s also often the thing that most impacts my growth/business/life.

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  2. That all makes perfect sense. Good luck on your shorter term goals. Easy peasy.

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  3. Ginger Calem says:

    Hi Jenny. As you know, I’m in Margie’s class as well and I have also been having epiphanies. Funny that I’ve actually taken this course before, years ago. Apparently I really needed a refresher.🙂

    I don’t mind ‘year’ goals, and even bigger long range goals like 2-5 years. BUT, they have to be backed up with monthly, weekly and daily goals as well for me to stay on track.

    I’ve been teaching my own class this month, which ends tomorrow and then I’ll be totally submerged in the DSDB class! Woo!! See you in class!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Good for you, Ginger! It looks like lots of people take the class twice, and I can see the benefit in getting a refresher every few years. Good luck on ending your Writer’s Butt course with a bang. (no pun intended)🙂

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  4. Laura Drake says:

    Oh bull – I didn’t remind you…I kicked your a$$! It’s been interesting, being your coach – I’ve learned more about how you think – and I’ve even analyzed my own process (SDB aren’t my issue, but LOTS of other things are!)

    I don’t focus on the big stuff – the scary, holy-crap-this-is-impossible stuff. I break it down to daily goals (as you have) and just do those. Amazingly, at the end, the big scary goal is toast!

    Hang in, Jenny, you CAN DO THIS!

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  5. I have to be really careful about the whole goals piece I’ve learned. Annual goals are overwhelming but I can spend lots of time making short term goals (I like lists vbg) so those are better but with caution: the point is not to make the list but to do it. LOL

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I agree, Louise. My daily list never has more than 2-3 things on it, which is a far cry from those old lists of mine. So far, it’s working. That’s all we care about, right?

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  6. Jenny. we’re alike in that we start with great intentions and somehow fall a tad short. Okay, in my case Grand Canyon short. This year I went back to what an alcohol counselor told me: Don’t stay out of the bar all this week, just do it today. I wake up and get what I can done and don’t beat the crap out of myself for falling short. Tomorrow is another day and another chance.

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  7. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    Set some small goals to accomplish first. Then set the bigger long term goals. Set up to-do lists the same way. Try to do too much and it all falls apart.

    Then again, there is always wine. Wine helps.

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  8. Amber West says:

    I’ve never been a resolutions gal. Honestly, I don’t even do well on those three-month “I WILL DO THIS!” bits either.

    I need very short term goals. And I need to make some that I KNOW I can achieve, so it gives me the confidence/enthusiasm to build on them to the next step.

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  9. Jess Witkins says:

    Sounds like great new goals Jenny! I’ll have to check Margie’s classes out. I made much more specific goals this year and mine I need to complete before April when my first writers conference is. I would love to hear more about what you learn for freelance. I always go to those sessions and am interested in doing it. I just don’t know where to start. How do you break in, so to speak?

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ooooh, I want to hear all about your first writer’s conference, Jess! That’s awesome-sauce. And I will absolutely share the freelance ropes, once I learn them. That “I don’t know where to start” is what’s been stopping me all this time.🙂

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  10. I’m lucky to have an a$$ kicker who reins me in when I go off the reservation, too, Jenny. I have an aversion to things being too neat, too organized, too structured (in fact, in my writing, plotting out my story besides a general idea of storyline, characters and ending often means I’m dead in the water–everything flat). For me, goals work, but they need to be general.

    For example, in the past I’ve made goals like lose x amount of weight by x date. Failed almost immediately. But when I changed the goal to ‘get healthier this year.’ I lost 50+ lbs simply by changing my eating habits (both types of food and portions), exercising daily, and weighing in to track my results. Strange, I know, but it works for me, so I go with it. LOL!

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  11. May I just say Ditto on all the above! And I always seem to set myself up for failure and live in a constant stream of frustration. I hear ya sista. I hope your new class with Margie brings you success! And I hope that you are feeling better my dear friend.🙂

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Karen, I’m a huge fan of the mindset this class promotes and I’m going to be practicing it for the next 3-4 months, like I’m still in the class, just to see what happens.

      I will be sure to let you know how it goes, and can I just say that I hope I have the stomach flu. Otherwise, my latest reaction to gluten is the equivalent of food poisoning. Blurg.

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  12. Ryan King says:

    There’s nothing wrong with taking it a month at a time. I hope it works better for you. A year can be a monster. Maybe that’s a monster sex book you can write? Instead of “When Harry met Sally” you can write “When 2013 met 2014”. LOL.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL. Believe it or not, Ryan, I’m the last person qualified to write a monster sex book. I have to have my critique partners “finish up” my sex scenes, if you know what I mean. I always feel like a voyeur when it’s time for my characters to get their wild on.🙂

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