Well, actually, goal always has to be a four letter word, but it doesn't have to make you feel bad. Obviously goals are important. From the time we are little we are encouraged to make them. In primary the children are asked to make and keep goals, to learn something new, to challenge themselves, to help others, etc. The youth are encouraged to make goals that help them develop talents, think outside themselves, grow spiritually. I don't think as an adult we are supposed to suddenly stop giving ourselves goals that promote our growth. I don't necessarily think that we should only make these goals at the beginning of the year, but since it is that time of year, why not think about goals?
Are the goals we're making something we have control over?
Being in this industry, I have heard a lot of writers say: My goal is to sell a book this year. I don't necessarily think this is a bad goal. But one we have absolutely no power to control. Sure, we can hope our book is going to sell, but we can't force a publisher to buy it. A better goal would be: I'm going to edit my book until it's beautiful and shiny. Or I'm going to write another book so that if my first one doesn't sell, I'll have other options.
Are our goals attainable?
I once made a goal to give up chocolate, cold turkey....all of it. For me that wasn't an attainable goal. The next day, while stuffing my face full of Junior Mints, I felt horrible about myself. I realized that the goal wasn't a good one for me. I should've allowed myself a small amount of chocolate every day. So make goals that are reasonable. If you write 500 words a day and make a goal to write 5000, that might be too lofty of a goal. Don't set yourself up to fail.
Are our goals bringing more balance to our lives?
I personally don't need to make any writing goals this year. I already do enough writing/obsessing over my projects. It would only feed my obsession if I made yet another goal about writing. I need goals that get me away from the computer. I need goals that might help my messy house or neglected gym membership. :)
I appreciate all the other posts this week about goals and the New Year. For me the New Year is a time of reflection and hope. I look forward to the new year and a future full of possibilities.