Class, Please Hand In Your Self-Evaluations.

It’s 2013! Congratulations: you’ve made it to another year!

While every morning or hourly call of the cuckoo is enough to start a new project, exercise, or 1000 words, the tick of the clock from one calendar to another is traditionally when we all get down to the nitty gritty and make The Big Life Plans We Hope To Not Lose Sight of In a Month.

We all make New Year’s Resolutions, whether we write them down or say them outloud or wish them on stars. What I am challenging all writers to do this year is to make GOALS instead of Resolutions.

Think about yourself as one of those annoying corporations with bad coffee and worse management, the kind that asks you to turn in one of those ghastly self-evaluations every year and forces you to set your own lofty goals, goals that may or may not have anything to do with the actual direction of the company, but paperwork that can be submitted on behalf of the pointy-haired boss who can’t be bothered to actually work for the space where his company car is parked.

Please place your goals into these five categories:

External Goals

These are the kinds of goals most of us typically make. Decide how many books you want to write this year, how many contests you want to enter, how many essays you want to write, and how many stories you want to submit. Write those down and start marking them off.

Internal Goals

These goals are not as difficult to make, but almost impossible to follow through with, since the general public often sees these goals as selfish pampering — so much so that you’re not even allowed to write them off on your taxes. But why not? If maintenance has to be done to that horrible corporation’s building, that’s typically a write-off. As writers, our bodies are our buildings. We need to take care of them, or they will fall apart and trap our minds inside them.

Regardless of what the IRS thinks, I challenge you to set a personal pampering goal for yourself. Establish a relationship with a local masseuse or farmer’s market. Look into gym memberships and personal training sessions. Check out yoga and barre classes in your area. And if you’ve been putting it off (like I have), get your tucus to a doctor and/or physical therapist. We may not be able to write off our bubble baths and candles and reiki meditation CD, but they are as vital to our survival as those words on the page.

Research Goals

You’ve wanted to try something new, so this is your year to do that. Video blogging? Podcasting? E-publishing? Comic book conventions? Local book clubs? Art? Hiring publicists or book tour companies? Choose something this year that you have been considering but haven’t tried — something that teaches you a new skill and will leave you with valuable information. Even if that information is DEAR GOD, REMEMBER TO NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, that’s a valuable lesson you wouldn’t have learned if you didn’t try.

Altruistic Goals

‘Tis better to give than receive. Put out in the world what you expect to get in return. Whenever I am feeling blue, I go online and do something for someone else, even if it’s as simple as voting for a cover, “like”ing a book on Amazon, rating a book on Goodreads, or sharing a friend’s new book on Facebook. Challenge yourself to do some of these little things every week — every day, if you want — along with a bigger goal. Talk at your kid’s school. Volunteer at the library. Answer your fan mail. Bring snacks to the next meeting. Be sure to put some love out there into the universe.

Family First

All these goals are great, but you need to remember to not lose sight of the people who believed in you in the first place. Do something nice for your significant other. Call your mother. Buy your kids silly presents on Valentine’s Day. Make gingerbread houses in June. Decide to go somewhere touristy in your area once a month. Go see a play. Start a Popcorn and Bad Movie night. Turn off the phone and turn your attention back to your friends and family for a significant time every single day. It makes a difference.

Do you have some good ideas? Please feel free to share them! I’ll be posting my own goals for 2013 on my website later today…or later this week. (Obviously, an emphasis on regular daily blogging isn’t on there this year.)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!

xox Alethea