2019 q4 goals

I don’t know how to set goals.

It seems like a weird thing to say, but I don’t get it.

Sure, I can come up with a list of things I want to do, but I find that there’s a disconnect between what I’m doing day to day and the overarching things I want to accomplish. I either lose sight of the big picture, or I can’t figure out how to break the goals down into things I can do in my daily life.

I’ve been thinking about this more because of Notion and having to write out specific tasks. Applying labels and categories and looking at the accumulation of things I’m working on has helped this take shape for me. I’m starting to feel a little less like I’m wandering aimlessly through a featureless landscape and a little more like maybe there’s a roadmap. But also specifically, that I’m the one creating the roadmap. So, in this metaphor, I guess I’m a cartographer? (For a map that will probably only be useful for me… Let’s go ahead and drop the metaphor here.)

This morning something clicked. I was listening to the first ep of season 3 of Genre Hustle about goal-setting, and everyone was giving AP shit (good-naturedly) for having daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. And I thought, maybe this is where my disconnect is.

When it comes to things like goals and to-do lists and calendars and the like, my brain operates very concretely. If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist. If I don’t explicitly connect it to something else, that connection doesn’t exist. I can be upset until the ends of time that my brain doesn’t work in a different (not better. different.) way, but it doesn’t.

(Sidebar: the past few months have results in a lot of revelations about how my brain works. That’ll be a story for another time.)

The answer is to get granular about it. And as with everything else, to iterate and adjust.

I’ve been setting yearly goals, weekly goals, and daily goals. But I can’t hold the connection between weekly and yearly goals. I have to bridge that gap. I have to be explicit about it.

I already have a property on my task board in Notion for “Quarter.” I put it in there on a whim with no real plans to use it initially, but maybe that’s what I need. It’s definitely easier for me to think in a three month chunk than in a year long chunk. And it’s easier for me to relate quarterly goals, rather than weekly or daily goals, to overarching goals.

(How many times do you think I use the word ‘goals’ in this post?)

People say that it’s good to post publicly about your goals because of accountability. I don’t know how well that works for me, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. We’re already one month into Q4 (Oct-Dec), and it’s the holiday season, so I’m giving myself a little grace and a little space for family stuff, mental health stuff, and FEEEEEEELINGS.

I think for each quarter, I should have at least one specific writing-as-in-word-production goal and one specific writing-as-a-profession goal. The focus this quarter is writing (natch) and workflow.

2019 Q4 Goals

  • Get back on track with writing new work. (At some point, revising old pieces is a procrastination method to keep you from writing new ones.) (This is me talking to me, but maybe this is true for you too…)
    • Complete a first draft of ‘the hair thing’ by Taiwan trip.
      • Start revisions on return.
    • Complete a first draft of either ‘jiaozi’ or ‘the moon thing’ after returning from Taiwan trip.
    • Braindump ‘the croc thing’ ON PAPER. (Holding things in my head indefinitely doesn’t work! I know it doesn’t! You know it doesn’t! I’ll probably do it again because habits die hard, but still!)
      • Outline and rough in two chapters.
  • Build up a process and a workflow.
    • Read up on DevOps.
    • Set Notion as default tab. Look at it daily. Reevaluate weekly and see if cards need rearranging. Build this into the routine.
    • Log even the most granular things that are writing related so it’s all in one place and I don’t have to hold it in my head. Build this into the routine.
    • Reassess overall workflow at the end of December. Explicitly. Like on paper. Don’t try to do this in your (my) head, future me. It’s not going to work.

I can already see a couple problem spots. E.g. “Read up on DevOps.” What does this mean? What should I read? That one still needs a little work. I should probably just put “Ask Adam” underneath it since he’s already done a lot of leg work there.

This list doesn’t encompass everything, but it gives me something to navigate towards with a few specific tasks that I can transfer and break down further in my bullet journal (which is where I track my weekly and daily agendas).

The main lesson I keep learning and relearning is that everything is a process. And if this goal-setting thing doesn’t work in this iteration, that’s okay. It’s not a failure. Or at least, not a failure in that nebulous, internalized, end-of-the-world, gifted kid sense of failure. It’s a failure of process maybe, or a failure of tools. It’s not a failure of me as a person. (Or you as a person, if you’re also struggling with this.)

Figuring out a workable system is basically solving the puzzle of your own brain, and the puzzle changes depending on context and time.

And instead of attaching a value judgment (good, bad, demoralizing, etc.) to that fact, I can just accept that as a reality and figure it out from there.

Do y’all set goals? How do you go about doing it?