How to Plan for 2021

Resolutions don't work for me, so I make goals. Here's how you can set concrete, actionable goals, too. đź’ś

Step one: find a goal that is slightly outside of your control. For example, my goal is to sell X number of books by year's end (it's actually a range of three numbers representing good, better, best). I don't control how many people will buy my books, but there are many projects I can tackle to increase my book's visibility and marketability by testing out ads, running sales, and launching the next books in the series.

Step two: determine how much time you realistically have to tackle said goal. I printed out a two page year at a glance and started marking off all my non-working days: every vacation, every Sunday, every conference, all my usual holidays, and then threw in a handful of sick days (because life happens) to find approximately 250 days of the year that I'll be able to work. Your numbers will vary greatly depending on your job, family, health etc, but no matter the goal, it's wise to be realistic with your time.

Step three: list out your projects! For me, these are fairly straight forward—basically, publish the damn books. Your projects might be to learn 1000 new words in a different language. It might be to KonMari the house. Identifying the projects that most support your goals is crucial! Having a map to follow for the year is so much easier than wandering the wilderness.

Step four: divide your projects into tasks. These are all the smaller steps leading to the project. Mine are to plot the book, write the book, edit... you get the idea. These can go as granular as you like (such as write chapter one, write 500 words a day, yadda-yadda). Having an idea of how long each task will take harkens back to those identified working days so you know how many projects to take on. It takes me about 48 total hours to write a draft, but I can only work about three to four hours a day before my brain burns out on a single project, meaning I need to set aside at least 16 days, but sometimes shit happens, so I'll round it to 20 just to be safe.

Step five: parse out your projects throughout the year and then track your progress. There are few things as rewarding as seeing how far you've come and knowing that no matter how far you go, you've truly worked towards your dream.

Bonus: plan celebrations for when you reach the milestones important to you with time off for self-care, small rewards, or whatever brings you joy.