I’m not sure how it got here so fast, but here we are, at the precipice of 2016. I’m not a big fan of the winter holidays, but I must say, I absolutely love New Year’s Eve. I’m huge on goals, and unlike many people, I actually track my goals all year long. I keep a log every single day of the things that I’ve done to make progress towards those achievements. I usually have a lot of projects going simultaneously, both personally and professionally, so this process is essential to make sure that I don’t lose track of the things I really want to accomplish.
I’m very token motivated.This comes out of behaviorism, and I like to reward
myself with small, tangible items. For the most part, I use little things like glass beads. During the past two years, I’ve put a bead into a big jar every time I do a task that contributes towards finishing a goal. At the end of the year, I have a giant jar filled with beads, and it’s a great visual metaphor to see how each little action contributes to something bigger. I also go back through my logs to tally up all the milestones and goals that I actually finished.
Last year, I also made use of a giant year-at-a-glance calendar. My goal for this was to help motivate me to do something with writing or editing every single day. Each day I engaged with my writing, I put an X the calendar, with the goal to not have any breaks in the X chain. This has also been called the Seinfeld method, as Jerry Seinfeld used to do this for consistently composing comedy routines. I also used it to mark significant dates or larger milestones, like finishing edits, submitting queries, and *gasp* being accepted for publication. After tomorrow, I’ll have my calendar totally full of Xs, and since I accomplished all my writing goals for the year and then some, I’d say it worked for me!
You’d think that would be enough behavioral machinations, but wait, there’s more! Whenever I do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I like to use extra motivational support because it’s such an intense task. For the last two years, I gave myself charms or beads at certain word count markers to make a sort of commemorative jewelry piece. This year, I gave myself a charm for every 2,000 words that I wrote. It was totally effective because I ended up writing over 120,000 words in less than 30 days, and as you can see in this photo, I am now the proud owner of a ridiculous charm bracelet. My friend says it looks like a plumber’s keychain because of all the crazy dangling sparkly things.
Since I started using all of these techniques, I’ve done much better at reaching my goals, and perhaps more importantly, even if I don’t reach the goal, I can see and appreciate all the work that I’ve put into the task more clearly. This year, I’m excited to launch Under Dark Sky Law in February, and I hope to edit and release the book I just wrote, Seoul Circuit. I also need to finish my PhD dissertation, and I’ll be spending a good deal of time improving my Korean language proficiency. No small tasks, but I’m confident that I’ll make significant strides towards these goals.
So, what plans do you have for 2016? Happy New Year, and best of luck!