I’m coming to you with this a little early because I want you to have time to think about it.
In June, I wrote a blog post titled, If you’re not where you want to be this year. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, halfway through 2018. I figured I wasn’t the only one. So I wrote a long post explaining why it’s okay to not be where we thought we’d be in January. January is a liar with a pretty face. He promises you whatever you want to hear, just so he can be as cold as he wants.
I’ve been trying to write poetry. It’s going well.
While I was happy with how the post ended up, and I think it was what I at least needed to hear back then.
But now it’s the end of September, and I hope we’re all in a different place.
The problem is, most people are in a place of giving up this time of year. It’s almost the holidays, they figure. There’s no sense in really buckling down on anything now, I’ll just give it up. It’s better to wait for January to come around again and set some new goals for 2019.
Well, forget that! I’m not waiting until January, and you shouldn’t either. Do you want to be another sucker, letting January tell you that you’re gonna write that novel this year? Isn’t that the same lie he told you last year? Or are you going to march into that month with three months of progress in your hands and tell him where he can go?
Today I’m going to give you some actual, actionable things you can do right now to make progress towards your goals in 2018. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to finish your Goodreads goal, write a short story, make progress on your novel, or repaint your house. These things will help you get closer.
Notice that I didn’t say anything about completing a project in the next three months. You might be able to if your goal is to complete Nanowrimo or write a short story. But if you have a larger goal in mind, three months might be just too little time.
And that’s totally okay! Look, maybe you’re not going to reach the goals you made at the start of the year. That’s not really what we’re worried about right now. Our plan now is to make progress.
Map out what you can do in the next three months
This is my favorite part.
I want you to grab a piece of paper, and write down everything you already have going on in the next three months. Things you can’t really change or move. Your work schedule, family obligations. Things you’ve already planned and can’t or don’t want to get out of. Anything that’s going to take time and energy.
It’s important to know what sort of time you’ve got to work with before you can make any plans.
Now, take a hard look at the time you have to work with. What can you accomplish in the next three months? Write out a plan, month by month.
Set actionable first steps
Now that you have a good idea what your direction should be for the next three months, it’s time to take action.
Take a look at your goal, whatever it is, and figure out what the very first thing you have to do to meet that goal is.
Let’s say you want to write a short story. Well, your first goal is to come up with a story idea, but that’s not really actionable. So, you’d want to say, “I will free write for ten minutes, every day until I come up with a story idea. I will start today.”
Put on your calendar when you will complete these steps
Alright, you have a plan, and you have a goal. Now, put it all down on your planner or calendar. Give yourself a deadline, and make every effort to stick to it. If you plan to free write for ten minutes a day, put those ten minutes on your planner or in your bullet journal. I have a rule, if it’s not in my bullet journal, it’s not going to get done.
Every week, review your progress
Now that you have a plan, you’ve got to follow through on it. Check your progress every week, and set goals to reach closer to your goal.
For example, let’s say your goal is to repaint your house. Your first action might be to select a paint color, then purchase the supplies you need. Maybe next week you move all the furniture out of that room, then tape up the windows and baseboards. Now, you’re getting ready to make your to-do list for the week ahead. So you want to put, painting the base coat on your to-do list. (Mind you, I’ve never painted a room before in my life. I’m making these steps up. If you actually want to paint a room, please consult someone who knows what the hell they’re doing.)
Remember, the purpose of starting on your goals now is to make progress and start the good habits that will lead you into a successful next year.
So how about you? What are you working on, or starting on in the last quarter of the year? Let us know in the comments below!
Deciding To Start contains some of the best blog posts from the first two years of Paper Beats World, updated with new information and new insights. It covers such topics as inspiration to start writing, advice on the tools you need to get started, how to be a writer while also being a full time human being, and inspiration to keep going.