2018 is here and many people are setting intentions for the year ahead. Whether you select the first day of the new year, or any time at all, setting a new goal and sticking with it is often a difficult task. We’ve put together a few ideas and tips on how to make those intentions go from concept to reality.

Tell others what you want to accomplish. Find people to connect with – join a group (or start one), find a community, take a class. As long as everyone in the group is focused on making progress and adding in good new habits, you don’t even have to have the same goals (though it can be highly beneficial when you do).

Create sustainable habits (and don’t berate yourself when you break them, just try again)
Resolutions are a marathon, not a race. There are things that take less time and can be checked off your goals list fairly quickly. But when it comes to things like “finish a novel/memoir/screenplay,” it’s helpful to break that down into sections and create a tangible, sustainable habit around it. Like, “write ten minutes a day through March, then increase five minutes per month” is a goal that is manageable, sustainable, and will lead to a) a long term habit of writing daily and b) probably finishing that work (and then starting more).
And yes, you’re going to stumble. You’ll go on vacation or a family member will get sick (or you will) or work will get crazy, and goals that are not yet habits will fall away. Life happens. It will never stop happening. What matters is that you keep going back and trying to reestablish good (and/or fulfilling) habits when you break from them.

Keep track of your new habits
It can be disheartening when you stumble, seeing visual proof that things didn’t go how you planned, but if you track new habits, and track them until they are so habitual you don’t think about them (like brushing your teeth or making a cup of coffee), you are far more likely to stick to them long term.

Find competitions/fellowships/publishing opportunities to enter (and put them on your calendar)
This is very writer/creator specific, though there are other areas it can be applied. If you have a tangible date AND opportunity to ‘win’ something, it can do wonders for making progress. You don’t have to enter every one that comes along, but find 2-3 that are an ideal fit for you/your projects. Then, not only do you have something to aim for, you’ll gain experience with practical accompanying skills so your goals can evolve from a nebulous “write more” to “finish two stories to enter into X and Y competitions.” Deadlines and specifics are your friend. Really.

Vary the size and scope of goals – and be mindful of how many there are. It can be tempting to start off the year with a goals/resolutions/intentions list a mile long. If you’ve ever done this and actually made it through the whole list, without editing it at any point, congratulations you are a superhuman and should take over all our lives. The reality is most people want too much, too soon, and without regard to the time it will actually take to achieve.

An experiment:
Pick six goals that seem like they could be accomplished in a month. Schedule them to be completed by the end of every other month. Give yourself the cushion.
Set one goal to do/work at on a weekly basis.
Set one large intention for the entire year. Just one. And however grand or nebulous it is, have a think and see how it can be broken down into smaller, more specific goals. Then, start from the beginning and chip away at the smaller tasks to accomplish the big one.

Hopefully these are helpful – and if a goal of yours involves writing (which we hope it does if you’ve landed on our page), check out our course offerings. We likely have a class (or several) that can help you achieve a writing goal. You can also connect with us via email, phone, and any of our social media platforms (links at the bottom of the page) for more advice. Happy 2018!

Bree is the Assistant to the Director and Social Media Coordinator. You can email her at btodish@uclaextension.edu.

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