Goals for 2024

Look I’m actually making the post! I’m not sure I have done this ‘properly’ in a few years so let’s do this. What do I want from this year?

Now goals need to be SMART because when it’s intangible, how do you know when it’s been achieved? I can want inner peace, contentment, some amount of happiness etc. but that’s a feeling and an end result. Maybe I will get it one day, maybe I won’t, but I need to target things I can actually do something about.

This is the time of year I usually get an infusion of hope/optimism – wishful thinking – and I hope, hope with all my heart that the upcoming year will be different. I want it to be better, I want to feel better, so badly and then it never works out. It’s always a disappointment and I hate getting to my recap posts and going “well that was another sucky year”. It always seems like there’s some kind of external reason, but a lot of that is just excuses. I have depression, I have intense anxiety. I am autistic. I have physical symptoms even if I am unsure if I have actual physical issues (the mind likes to screw with the body). Life can be hard but I need to make choices that serve me.

I want many things. I always want a lot. Some years I say I’m “starting small” and deep down I know what I really want, and so pretending like I’m starting small is a polite lie. If I don’t get to the real dream then I still feel like I’ve failed. I don’t know if I can break out of old negative patterns but I lose nothing by trying.

January Goals
WriYe requires a word count goal and so I set a Good: 75k, Better: 250k, Best: 500k but really it’s not about the words. I get so hung up on ‘daily word count’ or the WriYe challenges and time doesn’t always align and there is more to writing than just drafting.

For January I am setting a single goal – “For at least 90% of designated writing days time four hours of work

That’s pure butt in chair time. If I sit there and do nothing then so be it. In the past I have struggled with time-based goals as I waited until I felt ready to start the timer, and then it took over my whole day, or I didn’t clock the hours even though I’d sat there all day, and I just got frustrated and upset. I am hoping if I make the commitment to log 4 hours, that in time I will train myself to focus, and increase the amount I can do in that time.

Something mum told me years ago (and which I may have mentioned here before) is that I’ve been mentally ill for a long time (longer now) and so if it has taken me 15 years (since breakdown one) to get this bad, then it might take another 15 years to get back to normal. I hope like hell it will be faster but I have a lot of learned behaviour to overcome. I have struggled with that since moving into my own house. The patterns of behaviour which I fell into the last few years, didn’t shift even though the environmental triggers weren’t there any longer. I hoped I would adjust quicker but it’s still ongoing.

Do I want to do more things? Absolutely I want to do art, I know I should exercise, I want to practice piano, I want to work on Lego MOCs, I want to read books and play video games and, and, and etc. Some of these I can plug in as I feel like around the 4 hours of writing obviously. However, usually every January I try and make some kind of schedule to be able to do it all everyday. I manage for a handful of days and then just can’t do it anymore. I have spoon issues and I don’t have the mental stamina. So this year I want to take the approach of building more slowly (and I mean genuinely not my usual, ‘oh it’s been fine for two days lets add everything in’ slowly). I want to truly build myself back up and so I need to be strict and not do my usual, trying to run before I can walk (I do this so much).

So January has one focus – butt in chair writing time. In February I can either continue with just that or add something else in a bit more consistently but maybe it’ll need to be March before I adjust anything – or later. The important part is that I gain some consistency with my productivity. I tend to be very ‘all or nothing’ and push and push for a short time, and then fall over and do nothing.

What will I be working on?
I have not yet picked a project. I am relatively sure I have narrowed it down to between two. Either continuing the second draft of Book One of my sci-fi thriller, or rebooting my Science Fantasy (from the ill-fated publication attempt back in… oh man 2016 yikes). I know I need to pick one and commit but I don’t like to choose. I don’t like to lose options and so I am shying away from truly going “yup all in with X”. I have only narrowed it down to these two options as they are both further along in the process than any of the other projects I have. I am kinda hoping that if I finish something I will get a mental boost.

I have a couple of new craft books I want to read/make notes from. I also want to go back over the notes I made from the books last summer. As I said in my recap post I’m having trouble applying the knowledge so I want to at least try and get as much of it in the active part of my brain as possible.

I haven’t looked at my Science Fantasy in years. Truthfully I’m tempted to start by dissecting it. Then when it’s ready to be worked on, making a choice as to whether I want to do that, or move forward with the Sci-Fi Thriller instead. Is this procrastination? Maybe, but I also feel I need more information to make an informed choice.

I’m not going to say that I want X number of drafts complete by the end of the year. Do I want that? Absolutely! But I don’t know how long it will take me and the important thing is putting in the work, not getting disillusioned about an impossible deadline I pulled out of thin air. If I work solidly all year and end up with one draft I can publish then I will be pleased. If I have more than fantastic but too much is unknown at this point to be accurate on what is achievable.

Let go of what I can’t change
This is an important point. I think I said in my review post that I have such anxiety over the state of the world (politics, climate, AI in creative industries) and I am afraid all the time. But I can’t do anything really about the world. Just as I can’t change the past. I can’t go back and have the last 10 years again, I can’t get that time back, I can’t make better choices. Stewing in misery and fear is a good way to lose yet another year. I don’t know if I will be able to make the mental shift to be more positive, to not be constantly afraid, to not be so self-loathing, but I need to try. I have tried. It’s not like I haven’t known this is a problem for me for years. But I really hope that in 2024 I can find a better path forward for me. The world will probably always be a dumpster fire but so long as the world keeps turning, I have to live in it, and I need to find a way to live in it.

Keep showing up scared. It’s all I can do.