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Goalsetting and 2024

Well, the New Year has pounced on us, ready or not, and that has turned my attention to what I want to accomplish in the year ahead.

Proverbs 13:19 says, "The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul. . . ."

To achieve a desire--and we all have many of them--requires that we want to do what is necessary to reach that desired goal, to make the dream a reality. And it always helps to have those desires written down and prioritized.

Even before the new year arrived, I began to list many of the things I'd like to accomplish during the course of the year. After having assessed my record of accomplishments--and failures to achieve some of my goals--during 2023 (see last week's post), I had a good start on my list for 2024.

Because I do the same exercise every year, I already had three broad categories identified and established: Personal Goals, Professional Goals, and Domestic Goals. I first assigned to those categories the on-going, "always-on-the-list" items, then the things from last year's lists that I had failed to accomplish. Next, I added the new things I wanted to accomplish.

Among the every-year goals are my personal goals of maintaining a daily devotional time during which I read my Bible and jot down in a journal my reflections and ways I can apply to my life what I've read. I also always have a goal of reading 25-30 good books during the year. (I seldom fail to reach that goal, although the final tally of books I've read might vary, depending on the amount of research reading I must do for my various writing projects.)

Professional goals, of course, relate to all aspects of my writing efforts: researching, writing, submitting, marketing, etc. At the top of my list for 2024 is seeing the release of my book Dillon's War, something that by all rights should have happend last year, but that was out of my control. I also have several other book manuscripts I'd like to have accepted for publication this year and actually released either this year or early in 2025. And then there are my other writing projects currently in progress and any speaking engagements about my books. (I already have two such invitations on the calendar for March and April.)

Domestic goals refer primarily to things on the "honey-do" list. Fixing the problem of erosion under the pad on which the heating/air conditioning unit sits. (That's been on the list for several years now because I can't think of a good way to correct the problem short of hiring someone to do it for me. Maybe I'll think of a way this year.) And then there's that nagging task of finally reorganizing my office to make it neater and more efficient and to my wife's liking--and still fit my style of working. (No, that's not my desk in the photo, but it bears a striking resemblance!)

I've learned that if I don't write down my goals and review them regularly, I'll accomplish very little. And how do I accomplish the big goals within each of my categories? By making and listing many short-term goals. I do that by keeping a weekly to-do list that breaks all my goals into daily tasks. As I accomplish each task, I cross it off the list. If I fail to accomplish something on the day I have it listed, I move it to the next day's list. (If I find myself continually "kicking the can down the road," I have to reassess whether I really want to accomplish that task and then either forget about it altogether or force myself to get down to business and get it done. That's where self-discipline comes into play.)

Do I accomplish everything I include on those lists? No, but I get more of the tasks done than if I had never written them down. At my age, I need such lists; it's so easy to forget or to get sidetracked by distractions. Like another book to read, or email to catch up on--or another episode of What's My Line? to watch. (See my previous post on that topic.)

Have you set your goals for the new year? What steps are you taking to accomplish them?

Remember, "The desire accomplished is sweet," but you should plan how you'll accomplish it. Perhaps you'll find, as I did, that articulating them in writing is the best way to ensure accomplishment.

Happy New Year--and happy goalsetting!

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