Looking at my goals for the year, I’ve come to the realization that so far, I have accomplished … well. Not as much as I originally planned to.
That’s not a good feeling.
And yet, it also happens to be one of those moments of growth we often take for granted.
Not crossing something off our lists doesn’t mean we’ve failed. We just didn’t get something done. It’s the reason behind that shortcoming, not the shortcoming itself, that matters.
Look at the one thing you really wanted to do this or last year, but didn’t. Why not?
You can look back at what you haven’t accomplished and ask yourself why you did not reach your goal. Was it because you lost interest? Because something unexpected came up that took precedence over everything else? Or did you struggle to manage your time, prioritize your tasks, and stay motivated to get things done?
Let’s say you wanted to finish writing your book this year. You fully intended to make this happen. But about halfway through the year, you realized you really didn’t want to finish telling that particular story. You decided your time would be much better spent on a different project. As much as you didn’t want to leave your book behind … you knew it had to be done.
That’s not failure. Just because you didn’t finish one thing doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Quite the opposite. You were aware enough of your priorities and future aspirations that you were able to make the conscious decision to set aside something from your past. That’s a good thing.
However, if you haven’t worked on your book simply because you just “haven’t had time,” that’s a sign you need to put more energy into prioritizing all the things you want to do.
But again — just because you’re bad at managing your time doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It just means you need a planner, or a better alarm clock, or a temporary Netflix detox.
Sometimes the goals we set in January aren’t as important to us by November. That’s okay. Our focuses and desires are constantly changing. You will always have a few “big” things you’re working toward, and plenty of small ideas that may or may not make it onto your list of accomplishments for the year. That’s normal. Healthy, even.
Don’t get discouraged if you look up and realize you didn’t do That One Thing … again. There’s a reason why. If that reason was or is out of your control, shrug it off and either transfer it to next year’s goals or just let it go. If it was or is completely in your control, some behavioral adjustments may be in order.
This is all part of growing as a writer. You learn to shake off the things that don’t matter and figure out how to hold on to the things that do.
Whether you’re disappointed or sort of relieved, hang in there. If you really want to finish writing that book, you’ll find a way. You always will.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
Hey! I’m vlogging my way through NaNoWriMo. Here’s yesterday’s video.