I had started 2018 by purchasing one of those annual goal setting workbooks and dutifully went through, completing the entire thing. I had deadlines and goals and an action plan and I put everything in my planner with pretty stickers and glitter and washi. I was going to knock 2018 outta the park!!
Looking back at my major goals, I didn’t get one damn thing done. Not one.
There are several reasons for this. Some because life happened. But as I sat and reflected on 2018 and “all the things” I’d planned on doing, I knew there were other reasons I didn’t get to where I wanted to be and making one big plan in January of 2018 laying out the entire year, well, that was one of them.
I crashed and burned in late fall, giving up on everything I’d set out to accomplish. There were tears, and a lot of frustration. A lot of swearing, too. I felt like such an idiot.
And that, right there, was another big part of my problem.
I decided to take stock of 2018 in the fall, and try to pinpoint what went wrong. What wasn’t working? Why were all my well thought out 2018 goals and plans blowing up in my face? I learned so much about myself during my reflection. Here’s a bit of where I messed up, and where I’m trying to do better in 2019.
Planning for an Entire Year
This doesn’t work for me. Having goals and projects all laid out on a year calendar with dates and deadlines and fifteen steps to finish each item and each of them having deadlines, too?
Hello, Overload. I think I’ll just pass out right now and sleep for a year.
Out of Reach Goals
“But it’s good to have goals!”
Yes, goals are great! And planning is, too! But what I’ve found is that the amount of time and energy that I was devoting to setting goals and planning them out wasn’t productive. We plan and set goals to be productive, right? So if my planning and goal setting isn’t producing anything, then what am I spending all this time planning and goal setting for?
Not hitting my goals meant I was angry–at myself. I beat myself up to hell and back most of 2018, telling myself what an utter failure I was, for not getting stuff done. I kept saying “I failed to check off the boxes in my workbook and planner! I suck!”
I think we can all agree that’s not true, and also not healthy. But I was so determined to make a process work for me that worked for so many others.
And that, right there, was another clue to the faults in my 2018 process…
Doing What Works For Others Doesn’t Mean It Will Work For Me
When I recognized I was falling into old, destructive patterns by beating myself up all the time, I knew I had to stop it. These goal setting processes I was reading about were never, ever going to work for me because that isn’t how I work. That realization was a game changer. I should have stopped early on in 2018 and said, “hmmm, that’s not working so great for me. Maybe I need to change that up to fit how I work best.” But, I didn’t. I ignored every sign telling me to re-group and adjust.
I started to dig myself out of the mess I’d gotten myself into sometime in the late fall of last year. I was not going to fit into anyone else’s process. I had to take bits and pieces of what I’d been learning at workshops and in books about goals and planning, and puzzle together a process that worked, for me
Taking Care of Me
First, I decided that above all else 2019 was going to be about self-care. If I’m a mess, there is no writing getting done. I’ve incorporated more yoga and meditation into my weekly routine. I also have been eating better and trying to move more. A trip to the doctor’s last week told me my vitamin D was crazy low, again, so it means being on top of that. Taking care of me, inside and out. That is my number 1 priority above all else, in 2019.
One Planner to Rule Them All
I bought a 18 month Erin Condren (the one in the link is a 12-month) on sale in the late fall. It’s awesome and pretty. If I want to add stickers and washi, I can. If I don’t, that’s cool, too cause it still looks amazing.
The cover says “You are entirely up to You.” This is my phrase for 2019 and fills me with all the happy when I see it because it’s true. I can’t rely on anyone else to make me happy, or make my dreams come true or my goals become reality. It’s up to me.
Smaller Goals That Work For Me
Annual goals and me do not mix. Not even a little bit. I did an experiment in November and December (more on this below). 30 day goals. This worked! My word counts have been threw the roof (for me) and I so happy with the progress I am making on the other things I wanted to do.
I’d been in workshops for project management where kan-ban boards were talked about but I never used one. In the fall I came across a video of Sarra Cannon at Heart Breathings talking about how she used one for her writing goals. I decided to give it a try since at that point, I was frustrated and nothing else was working.
I used a SuperSticky Easel Pad and some washi. Here’s a picture of my December trial run. Simple, colorful, and I was super happy with how much I accomplished in 30-days!
Keeping it simple and visual. I’m doing, instead of just planning on doing. I’m not hating myself when I don’t hit a goal. That’s my “plan” for 2019. 2018 taught me my limits. I need general goals, a short timeline that doesn’t plan too far ahead, and to not beat myself up when life happens and plans have to be adjusted. This insight has led me to more forward progress in the last two months than all of my progress made in 2018, combined.
What kind of goal planning do you do? Have you found something that works, or did you modify something to fit how you work best? Maybe you don’t even make plans? (Of which, I’m jealous if that’s that case!) Let me know in the comments! And good luck accomplishing your goals, whatever they are are and however you set them up, in 2019!