Author health, Life, Writing

AH: Dreams, Goals + Plans for 2021

Happy New Year! 

(Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!)

I can hardly believe that 2020, with all of its quirks and whirlwinds, is past us. And not to put off 2021, but I think 2020 will be that year we’ll keep talking about when we’re old and senile…(“Yes, sonny, you wouldn’t remember what a year we had in 2020, but that’s the problem with all the young ‘uns today…”)

Anyhow. 

Today, I’m back here for my first Author Health blog post in the year 2021. *inserts fanfare and cheers and confettis*

One thing my family has always done is reviewing the year on the 31st, then setting goals on the 1st. It’s become sort of a tradition alongside pounding up mochi (sadly we don’t own a proper pestle and mortar set like our neighbourhood used to back in Japan) and eating all the delectable New Year’s dishes. 

I know some people loath goal setting with all their might, while others (like me) find a certain comfort in them. So I’ll take a look at what my goal setting methods look like, how it helps me realise my dreams, and how it works into a daily plan…and what it can look like for us writers. 

Dreams 

I think what we can all agree on, whether we love goals or not, is that dreams matter. They can be as silly as spending an entire day touring ramen bars (totally not me) or as serious as becoming a published author who works as a neurologist. (Again, totally not me.) 

For this exercise, take a moment to close your eyes and ponder on a dream you have. It could be a cause you’re passionate about. It could be the strangest thing that only makes sense to you. But whatever it is, have a clear idea in your head what your dream looks like.

Jiro-san’s dream.

Then write it down, as many as come to your mind.

I personally have a list of dreams, and some of them are: Published Author, Homeschool Mom, Classically Educated Person, Entrepreneur…and the list goes on.

Goals 

This is where it can get scary. While it’s fun to look at your dreams and…well, dream about them, but breaking it up into tangible goals can feel scary. What if I don’t achieve this goal? What if someone laughs at my dreams? (I know, some people don’t like ramen! Horrors!) What if–

Okay, take a deep breath. *Inhale, exhale* 

First off, it’s okay even if you don’t finish your goals. 

Shocking, right? But the point of having goals in the first place is clarifying your dreams. If dreams were a destination, goals are broad roadmaps. Think of them as highway signs. I swear, you can go back to Vancouver from Nanaimo or Mission if you only follow those signs. 

Goals come in bigger chunks than what people think. For my dream of becoming a published author, I have a few milestones to hit before I think of querying that looks like this:

  1. Write 1,000,000 words (1,000K)
  2. Find a Critique Partner 
  3. Edit Major WIPs
  4. Find Beta Readers
  5. Research Publishing Companies + Agents
  6. Start Querying
  7. Write some more

See? I have at least seven huge milestones to hit before anything publishing wise could happen. Currently, I’m at the first two steps of writing and finding a critique partner–something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve almost written 500K, so I’m halfway there! Albeit the fact the road seems long, I’m more confident having these tangible sections ahead of me which helps me stay motivated about my dreams. 

What following your goals can be like

Goals help you realise your dreams. If one thing isn’t working, it’s totally fine to change it up. 

Plans

And this is the smallest segment of a dream, a bite-size, if you will. Plans are the things that you can tick off each day to take a step toward your dream. 

For me, my plans are mostly hand-written and in the form of bullet journals. (I know, I just can’t seem to shut up about bullet journals.) I currently have three bujos I use for planning. 

The first one is where I write my monthly and daily schedule–a classic planner. This is where I integrate and write down tasks, check them off, track books I’ve read &c. 

The second one I have is the Goal setting journal. In Carroll’s book, The Bullet Journal Method, he introduces this method called the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Goals. (I strongly recommend you read the book. He explains it much better, and with actual graphics.)

Five stands for 5 years. This is the goal you’d like to achieve in 5 years, such as graduate med school, learn a language, and the likes. 

Four is 4 months. It’s a shorter frame than the first, so it might be things like finish a course/semester, apply to schools, or start a WIP. 

Three is 3 weeks. Now it’s something you can achieve this month, a mid to smaller size goal that might entail things like finish a science project, start researching your WIP, or read x-amount of books. 

Two is 2 days. It’s what you can definitely finish in this time span, which could be planning your blog post titles, scheduling for the month, or taking a test for calculus. 

One is 1 hour. I would write things like email someone, write a blog post, eat lunch, or have a bath.

In this way, I can keep track of where I am in different time segments. I also write book lists and things I want to learn in this bujo.

The third bujo I have is my own invention. It’s my brainstorm notes. This is where I write down projects and other ideas I want to bring into the world like Reinventing my Japanese blog (which I did) and Rethinking my Reading Ethics (more on this the coming weeks). 

Here, I log all the ideas I have for these projects with the 5W1H, then proceed to break them down into achievable steps I can take, as well as reason out why I want to do this in the first place…

Example:

TitleThe Ramen Campaign
WhoMe and my family
WhatEat instant ramen from different brands
WhenJanuary 2021
WhereAt home
WhyTo see how many ramen brands we can consume in a month
HowEat ramen once a day (31 days=31 brands)

Steps to Take

・Make a list of all the ramen brands sold at the store

・Buy ramen at the beginning of the week

・Eat ramen for lunch everyday

・Keep track of ramen consumed and the brand

Now you know how ramen-obsessed I am

I know, that’s a silly example, but that’s what some of the project ideas could look like. By going a step deeper and figuring out why we’re doing what we’re doing, we can take a purposeful step towards our dreams. 

So that’s the gist of my dreams, goals, and plans creation process. The last thing I want to say is, at the end of the day, what matters isn’t your plans, goals, or *gasp* dreams. It’s where God wants you to be and the plan He has for you. 

2020 knocked me out in terms of many things, but reviewing my goals showed me how much I did get done. Letting go of the dreams I had for so long and trusting God relieved me of the pressure, “I have to do it by myself.” 

I don’t know what  2021 brings me, but with my dreams, goals, and plans, I pray that I can move forward to embrace the plan God  has for me. 

What do you think 2021 will be like for you? Do you make goals or plans at the beginning of the year? What are some of your goal-setting processes? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

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