January 7, 2012

Setting a Course

Hello again! 

2 weeks away from my blog feels more like a month and a half. So strange! I feel like everything I re-start after the holiday break is individually packaged in a fresh layer of brain fog. It doesn't help that I am returning to my computer from one of the most beautiful, relaxing places imaginable: 

Ah, well. 

It is good to be starting a new year, though. I like the chance to break schedule during the holidays. Sometimes I'm so busy putting out the day-to-day fires that come up that I lose sight of my big-picture vision. It feels like a chance to pause, pick up the scattered pieces, regroup, and re-strategize about where you're going in life. Then New Year's Day arrives, and with it, a chance to turn a new page and do some things differently in life. 

As a rule, I don't really make New Year's resolutions. The jokes are true. Talk is cheap, and they're made of talk. They're flimsy; made to be broken. Besides, until this year, I was living on the school calendar and made whatever resolutions I was going to make in September. School offers a certain structure to the resolutions you make, too--study more (or maybe less). Invest in friendships. Get an internship. Graduate.

With the rigid frame of academia removed, though, I find that I am the only one responsible for setting goals for myself--for not letting life make my decisions for me. As you can tell by the size of the word "trust" in the sidebar, my process of direction-setting is one that involves a great deal of prayer and wrestling.

So this year I've made some New Year's goals. The word resolution, in my mind, says self-reliance. That's why New Year's resolutions don't last. I myself am weak. When I run out of energy to stay resolved, I give up, out of exhaustion if not lack of will. I think goals, however, are visions we lay before God for partnership. If my life direction has been submitted to Him for approval and guidance, goal-setting is an act of faith: setting a course and trusting Him for strength and courage to hold to it.

I'll tell you what my goals are in a minute, but first I want to clarify that this is not just my personal mind vomit. I read a great blog post by Kathy Lipp this week that talks about goal-setting for writers. In her words, "public humiliation goes a long way to getting your book written." Accountability goes a long way toward other things too: when other people are aware of your goals, the pressure to meet them rises--and you accomplish more than if they sit secretly moldering in your journal.

I also like a tradition my knitter friend Audry has instituted on her long-running blog, Bear Ears. At the end of each year, she sets goals, ranging from "knit a sweater" to "build a terrarium." But she also reviews the results of her previous year's goals. It becomes a neat cycle of tracking growth and watching how God's plans sometimes completely diverge from ours. I hope that next December/January, I will be able to track those long-term patterns, too.

OK, so here are my top 5 New Year's goals. I hope you will hold me accountable and share yours as well!

1. Get to know God better. To do this, my goal is to read through the Bible in chronological order in one year.

2. Have the second draft of my children's novel completed and be ready to start looking at literary agents by June.

3. Take a 2-month class to learn more about blogging and social media for authors. I hope you'll be seeing regular improvements on this blog from now through the end of February!

4. Buy a car (wings optional).

5. Read Gone With The Wind, Othello, and The Kite Runner.

What are your goals for this new year? 


  1. Consider yourself accountable... :D Just the fact that you wrote a blog post today is an accomplished goal, no?
    Do you think goals can be shaped like pottery? I have only seen it done, but this is how it looks: While the spinning wheel is moving, one applies pressure to shape the clay, or reshape it, mold it...Can goals be formed the same way, an ongoing process? Would they still be called goals? Food for thought, and blessings for the New Year!

  2. Great post. I love your definition of goals as things we approach God with, seeking partnership. I've talked about Row80 before, but its motto is set goals to fit your life, and when your life changes, change your goals. That's more on the level of weekly goals, but your mum's right--goals aren't swords in the stone we try to achieve; they flex and move.

    Good luck with your goals this year! Btw, love the car with optional wings. ;-)

  3. Thank you both! Goals are a funny thing: on the one hand, they need to be rigid enough to hold you accountable when you don't want to keep trying, but on the other hand, the goals are made for the life, not the life for the goals, and so they must be flexible...

  4. Looks like all of your goals are reasonable & good! Good luck!

  5. Thank you, Erin! I'm glad somebody thinks I'm reasonable :)

  6. These are all super goals - best of luck with them (especially the car) :) I'm not nearly structured enough to write down my goals. As soon as I write them down, I feel limited by them. Weird, I know. Great post.