Planning (For Life, and For Writing): It’s Not Just For Planners Anymore!

I think a lot of you who read my blog know I don’t really like to plan much. Nothing against planning, really. It was just something that ran contrary to my nature. Of course, there was a lot wrong with my nature…I’ve since been on this “kick,” if “kick” is the right word, about finding ways to make myself more accountable. So I’ve embraced the idea of making plans. Setting realistic goals for myself. But also giving myself the right to not reach those goals, and, conversely, not beat myself up for not reaching those goals.

With 2014 already underway, there have been a slew of blogs and countless other postings about resolutions and plans for 2014 and the like. A great many of these posts have been eye-opening reads for me.

I was particularly inspired by Lorraine Reguly’s blog post about planning. In her post, Posting, Planning, Publishing, Productivity and a PDF Planner for FREE for YOU! (boy, that was a mouthful…), she documents her reasons why, as someone who didn’t like planning much, she was making a more concerted effort to plan and schedule for the upcoming year. If you go to her blog post, you’ll find what she means by planning and scheduling, in which she’s created for herself some planning aids that include a daily checklist, a weekly checklist, and some other ways to plan her week. She and I talked some more about planning, and I was encouraged to use her planning aid – she’s offering it free on her blog site – and tailor it to suit my own needs.

I took her planning aid one step further. I wrote what I wanted my weekly accomplishments to be, without fail. They are:

WEEKLY CHECKLIST

  • Continue with my diet and exercise regimen
  • Spend every available moment with Jaime and Sophia and make that time count.
  • Meet with my therapist once a week
  • Read one book per week
  • Write 8-10 hours/1,000-2,000 words per week
  • Reconnect with someone I haven’t spoken to in some time.
  • Talk to my father and sister.
  • Post 3 blogs per week.

Then, being the writer that I am, compounded with need to be completely granular about planning – that is, for anything that doesn’t involve my life – I wrote a goals summary for 2014 that looks a lot like the project plans I’ve devised for many a project in my professional career.

SUMMARY

        I.            Personal Goals

  1. Marriage and Emotional Growth
  2. Physical Fitness
  3. Financial
  4. Inter-personal Relationships
  5. “Personal Time” Activities/Vacations

      II.            Professional Goals – Current Career

  1. Current position
  2. Future contract/full time job opportunities

    III.            Professional Goals –Writing and Blogging

  1. Writing
  2. Blogging

    IV.            Weekly Checklist

      V.            Monthly Checkpoint

    VI.            Annual Checkpoint

I won’t bore you with the minutiae of every single deliverable needed to meet each goal – not to mention, there are some things I’d rather keep to myself – so I’ll instead dispense with the “greatest hits” version of my Goals for 2014, along with some commentary:

PERSONAL GOALS

  • Marriage and Emotional Growth – the end of 2012 and all of 2013 was time I dedicated to my own mental wellbeing, and towards rekindling my marriage. It was a rocky, often times emotionally taxing road, but it’s helped me gain a strength I didn’t know, or forgot, I possessed. However, this is an ongoing process, and 2014 should be no different for me.

(1)    Continue improving my marriage and build upon the trust and commitment that have been the foundations upon us – and me – rebuilding our marriage.

(2)    To keep being the best husband I can and will be for Jaime.

(3)    To keep being the best father I can and will be for Sophia.

(4)    Continue working with my therapist using IFS programs and strategies on helping me with the following:

(a)    Understand and resolve deep-seeded emotional issues – i.e., unresolved anger, guilt, shame, trauma.

(b)   Learn how to best quiet my inner critic.

(c)    Gain more self-esteem and a more positive image of myself.

(d)   Understand why I am prone to procrastination, how that procrastination leads to my being depressed, and how to work through my procrastination and achieve my goals.

(5)    Continue working with my psychiatrist on medication management, suited to what works best for my mental and physical well-being.

(6)    “RELEASE THE BATS!’ – More on this in an upcoming blog…this is my mantra for 2014.

  • Physical Fitness

(1)    Paleo Diet – continue diet that places emphasis on high protein grass-produced meats (i.e.,  chicken, turkey, beef, bison, etc.), fish/seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils, and removes cereals, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed food, salt, and refined vegetable oils from my diet. – This was MURDER for me the first week. Quitting sugar was a bitch, but the more I’ve detoxed from sugar and processed foods and cereals, the more I’ve realized how much these were staples of my diet. On the flip side, I’ve eaten more steak in two weeks than I’ve eaten in almost a year, and, while I’ve always enjoyed vegetables, I’ve grown fonder of them even more.

(2)    Physical Activity – Begin running again: –I was an avid runner, until a hardcore case of plantar fascitiis slowed me down. It pains me to say this, but it’s been more than six months since I last went on a run, and now it’s time to rebuild, one running step at a time.

(a)    Short, timed runs, 30 minutes in length.

(b)   5K races before Memorial Day 2014; start signing up for races to give myself a deadline to work towards.

(c)    10K races before October 1st

(d)   Half-marathon by 12/31.

  • Interpersonal relationships

(1)    Make a more concerted effort to talk more frequently with my father and sister.

(2)    Re-connect with someone I haven’t spoken to in some time.

  • Personal Time Activities/Vacations

(1)    Read more – 50 books in 2014.

 

WRITING/BLOGGING GOALS

  • Writing

(1)    Write 1 hour per day, minimum. – So far, so good!

(a)    Impose no word limit; give myself the freedom to write as much or as little as possible.

(2)    Complete final draft of current work-in-progress by end of 2014.

(3)    Implement beta reading program for current work-in-progress, regardless of status; solicit call for beta readers. – If anyone wants to raise their hand, well, then, raise your hand.

(4)    Submit material to various online and print sources – Use Poets & Writers and Duotrope to research these sources and their submittal guidelines.

(5)    Research writers’ conferences to attend after July 2014.

(6)    Begin researching editors for hire – determine if the cost would be prohibitive.

(7)    Look into participating in online writers’ groups.

(8)    New home – have my own writing place, with a writing desk, a filing cabinet, and a bookshelf.

  • Blogging

(1)    Blog three times per week, without fail.

(2)    Solicit and post new guest blog posts for 2014; post guidelines on expectations for guest blog posts. – Many of you took part in this, and if you’d like to participate again, or if you’d like to take part for the first time, then let me know!

(3)    Sing up for guest blog posts where and when possible.

(4)    Discover and follow at least five new blogs per month.

But goals arent’ goals, and a project isn’t a project, unless there’s some accountability. Which is why I will do a monthly checkpoint to determine where Iam I at the end of the month with my goals? Have I been reaching them so far? Which goals have I been successful at accomplishing? What are the areas where I need help the most? Which goals have I decided not to pursue? An annual checkpoint will also take place, to determine where am I at the end of the year with all of my goals? Have I reached all of them? Which ones were the most successful? Which ones proved the hardest to achieve? Which ones did I not achieve? Were there any goals I decided not to pursue any further?

So there you have it, folks…my goals for 2014. What are your goals for 2014? Go on, share ’em!

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17 thoughts on “Planning (For Life, and For Writing): It’s Not Just For Planners Anymore!

  1. I always think that writing should be natural and not forced, but ever since I started my literary blog, I found that planning is indeed necessary. It is most important, in my opinion, to plan how often and how many blogs to post. This is such an inspiring post!

    • I also agree that writing should be natural and not forced, but one really needs to force themselves the time they need to write and to blog. In the past, I’d write whenever I’d find the time, but that often led to half-hearted, sputtering efforts. Blogging, on the other hand, I’ve found that if I plan my posts, I can get 2-3 posts put up per week. So if I can do that for my blogging, I can commit the same to my writing.

      Glad this has been inspiring to you! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Crikey, and I thought I’d found a kindred spirit. Admirable as they are, just reading about your plans and goals have exhausted me. I do hope, though, that they will work out for you; I’m going to curl up on the couch and have a snooze. 🙂
    ps. what is a beta reading program?

    • Hope you’ve enjoyed your nap!

      A beta reading program is where an author submits an draft of their work-in-progress to a diverse (if possible) group of readers in the hopes of garnering feedback, good, bad or indifferent. From that feedback, a writer can decide to incorporate that feedback into their final draft, or politely disregard. Beta reads can be very useful for writers trying to determine an audience for their work.

  3. Wow, Gus, that’s impressive. I just like to make daily schedules of tasks, which immediately fall apart because something comes up or something takes far longer than it should, or I can’t get my nose out of a book. Then I beat myself up about my inadequacies.

    I dunno. It works for me.

  4. Damn, Gus. Why do you have to be such an inspiration? Earlier I was thinking of feeling regretful that I’m barely keeping up with the minimum expected of me in all realms of life. Now I’m feeling like maybe I need to fill out one of those ‘plan’ thingies, too.

    • Oh, shit, I’ve created a movement!

      All kidding aside, I’ll be glad if I get most of these goals accomplished. I just want to impose a system in which I’m accountable to these goals, and not just some kind of wish fulfillment.

  5. This post makes me happy. Tired, but happy. Lots of good heathy things going on for you. I like your detailed plan–we all need map once we figure out our destination. Don’t forget to enjoy the view along the way though.

    Glad to hear you’re going to beginning running again. Would love to invite you to RoS sometime if you ever want to write running, mental / physical health, or mantras (mine is brave–can’t wait to hear about yours!)

    • I’m enjoying the view already.

      I’d love to do a guest something on RoS one of these days. Just say when, and I’ll drop you a guest post or something else to share.

      As for mantras, I’ve got a piece on mine I’m sharing this week. Stay tuned!

  6. Pingback: “This Shit Writes Itself!” | Out Where the Buses Don't Run

  7. Pingback: The Best-Laid Plans (Often Fall By the Shitter) | Out Where the Buses Don't Run

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