I am back. I think. It has been some time since I have written here or anywhere for that matter. I am not sure why and can offer no real excuses for my lack of creative focus. Life happens, I suppose. But with the New Year, comes renewed ideas and inspiration.

Each January Ray and I spend about 15 or so hours over the course of a week reflecting on the past year and thinking about our future including the upcoming year. This is a very helpful exercise for us in setting goals and realizing what habits we would like to change. The key to potential success we have found is two-fold; we diligently try to set realistic goals for ourselves and we allow the documents we create around our goals to be living, working documents.

First, my instinct is not that different from most when setting goals. They have looked something like this:

  1. Lose 40 pounds (takes more than declaring it so)
  2. Write a book (about what?)
  3. Knit a sweater (Goal should have been, learn to knit)
  4. Start a new company (I must have been kidding, I know better)

Sure, these are great goals, but the reality is that they are nearly impossible to achieve so I set myself up for failure before I even start. Does this sound familiar? It took me years to realize what I was doing and several more to figure out how to fix it. I will say it again; one of the keys to achieving goals is to set realistic goals. So, for example, I had five writing goals last year. They were:

  1. Post twice a week to 1 Shift (posted 21 times)
  2. Post 1 time a month to Pomegranate Place (posted 10 times)
  3. Submit at least one piece per quarter for publication (submitted 3 pieces)
  4. Write an eBook (never had any idea what this would be about, just seemed like a good idea)
  5. Start writing book (started the year with one book in mind and changed focus in April)

I was not completely successful but that is okay, this year I was able to narrow my focus based on those original goals. This year my writing goals look like this:

  1. Post to 1 Shift at least once a week (goal is 50 posts)
  2. Work on book (this is a big one that involved creating a book plan)

The next key to success is to review goals regularly and change as needed. My original goal, once it has gone through multiple iterations is significantly better in June than it was in February. The adaptation allows my goal to grow with me. It also pushes me to review and question if I am headed in the direction that I want to be going. Ray and I try to carve out about 20 minutes each week to talk about successes and opportunities.

One of the greatest challenges with change is that we expect it to be a one-time event, it is not. Change, when evaluated regularly becomes part of the conversation and part of the normal ebb of life.

Do you set goals? If so, do you ever look at them again after January?