I do most of my goal-setting in October. What follows is my reflection on those goals and a revision to my plan to complete said goals.
In 2013 and 2016, I used the “three word” concept to define what I hoped to accomplish over that year. In 2013, it was “write. right. lead.” The three were intwined and focused on being a better father and writer. In 2016, it was “write. restore. realign.” This spoke to my need to stop floundering as a writer and leader. The “restore” was about a 1972 Super Beetle that I helped find its final resting place. Before going further, I would be remiss if I did not confess that I failed on those goals. What could go wrong?
It’s 2024. My words are “focus. faith. fitness.” I’m seeing a trend. I started 2023 strong. By April, however, things took a turn as I shifted to working on a writing application that rivals MS Word and Scrivener. I’ve explained this before, so I won’t waste more words on that.
- Focus. I want to focus on finishing the novels I planned to in 2023. That is four novels and a lot of writing.
- Faith. My beliefs about reality are my foundation. A lot has been going on these past few years well beyond my control. I’ve been geo-politically aware or informed since 1979, but the last few years have gotten a bit too much. Fear is the word, and my counter to that is to focus on my faith. It all works out right in the end, even if it’s not the outcome I would prefer.
- Fitness. I’ve been up and down on my weight for the past 23 years. The Army kept me in the 170 range, and I miss that slimmer guy. I don’t miss the three-day per week PT and the other physicality of the work. I’m at 230 today, which is 12 pounds from where I was in 2017 when I dropped to 203. My target is 192, which is a fat general in the US Army at 5’10”. I am 5’11”, which is 197, but I thought I’d go a little deeper. I will call it 40 pounds to lose.
Distractions. So what can keep me from these things? Software. I still love to code. I wasted most of December coding a Ruby on Rails site, which was a lot of fun. On 28 December, I saw an easier way to have email and SSL, which were the last two things stopping me. I coded that solution on 29 December and finished my transition to this new site on 30 December.
“Heart of Man Plans His Way.” Without a plan, objectives serve no purpose. There is a wealth of research highlighting the value of keeping detailed records of your work. Tracking when and where you work something increases your chances of success by twofold. Here’s the TL;DR: Write every day. Read 300 days. Drop 40 pounds following CICO six days a week while exercising at least three days a week.
My goal is to finish writing Ameliorate, while plotting the rest of the series by 8 February; a date that marks recurring events in my life. That’s a tactical plan. Since I already have covers for this series, I want to finish and release four novels in 2024. This routine requires me to write more than one scene per day, which was my pace. Here are my target completion dates for the Postal Marines Navy Quartet:
- Ameliorate & Series Plan - 8 February
- Recidivist - 6 April
- Monition - 1 June
- Quintessence - 10 August
Here are my target dates for the rest of my Stranded Series. Two books are finished. Given I don’t have titles for the last two. I have only the vaguist idea of what these books will entail. Given the ambition of this year, I will likely not release this series until 2025. But I have several months to figure that out.
- Book 3 - 5 October
- Book 4 - 30 November.
My weight target is to reach 192# by 9 November, with a fallback to 197# if I plateau. This will require exercise as well. I have a steak dinner riding on this. My reading goal assumes 25 reading days per month.
Newsletter Schedule - Every 8 weeks or so, blogging often. In 2022, I started the tradition of releasing a newsletter every six months. Since I have no one signing up yet, that cadence really doesn’t matter as much. However, since I may be posting more blog articles here than someone may want to read, I will stick to the same schedule to get into the habit only emailing my thoughts every eight weeks or so.
Habit Tracking. One thing I am looking forward to in 2024 is the new Hey Calendar. They are including features I currently track as recurring tasks in Basecamp. This includes a habit tracker, which let’s me attempt a few of my trackable goals ala the Seinfeld Strategy. I can use this to track my writing days. You see below the daily view (you click the blank icon when you’ve done the habit) and the streak view (shows when you’ve done that habit). My habits are reading and writing. I bought a Finish 2024 calendar that competes with Hey’s streak tracking. I will use both this year to see whether I do better with the analog calendar that is next to my monitor or the on that is online.
Ben Wilson, Author