Daily Archives: January 1, 2010

Assessing Success

Most resolutions include some form of weighing.  Usually nekkid on a scale, hoping the holiday extra-helpings have disappeared from our hips.  I do have a small niggle in the back of my mind that wants this to happen, but I’ve learned long ago that weighty resolutions and I don’t mix.

I think one reason weight is a common goal is that the outcome is so tangible.  I can easily measure if I have a) lost weight or b) have skinnier buns.  Tape measures and scales tell it all. 

So how do we weigh the failure or success of other goals/resolutions/lists/hopes/dreams?  Writers often say: I will get published this year.  Mothers can say they want to parent better.  Dieters state a desire to lose weight and slobs can vow to clean up their acts.

Yet all of these goals are generic.  They are indefinite and therefore immeasurable.  I learned all about goal setting and data tracking years ago as a job coach for the developmentally disabled.  Without definite expectations that can be tracked, goals can never be reached.

A better goal for the mom would be, “I will quit yelling when I am angry.”  This is measurable.  Losing ten pounds is not ambiguous, but rather has strict expectations that can be reached.  Or not.  Likewise, the disorganized individual.  Like me last year, he could set the goal to organize a specific area.  Closets, dressers, office, etc.  Trust me when I say this can be measured with great accuracy : )

Another necessary component to assessing a goal is the level of control one has over the outcome.  “Get Published.”  A writer has no control over this.  Not unless they plan to self publish.  Then, by all means set it and stick to it.  We are not agents and editors.  We do not have the power to place our books on the printing press.  We only have power over the process.  A better goal would be a submission goal.  “Two times per month.”  This is attainable and most undoubtedly within our control.

The last major factor a goal should have is realism.  Losing 200 pounds in one year is unhealthy and unlikely.  Fifty two (a pound a week) is best.  Setting a 220 pound weightloss goal is a guaranteed set up for failure.  Fifty would be appropriate and realistic.  Any extra is a bonus. 

It has definite expectations that can be measured, the outcome is within an individual’s control and the goal can realistically be attained. 

Weight is not my goal for the upcoming year, but weigh is.   As my word of the year, I hope to live by the guidelines I set out for this fabulous word.

To weigh something is to assess its value.  This year, I will deliberately weigh my actions and reactions as well as the events that occur–to me or because of me–and how they impact those around me.  In other words, I will be more mindful of my life and how I live it.

I have also decided to create my own version of NaNo’s Big, Fun and Scary Challenge.  My 2010 Challenge to myself is officially titled Words, Whimsy and Writing.  Each word has a personal goal and writing goal. 


  1. Integrity.  Personally, I want to be true to myself and those around me.  My blog is a start to that.  By sharing it with others close to me, I have left myself open to scrutiny on both public and private levels.  If you’re not sure what integrity means to me, check out the quote from William Backus on my side bar. 
  2. Consistency.  My goal is to write consistently (4 times per week minimum).  I did it during NaNo and it worked well.  I plan to keep up a routine that gives me time for all the important things in my life without shorting any of them.  Too often in the past, I have been a binger and a purger where my writing is concerned.  It’s all or nothing and that gets me absolutely no where.


  1. I will golf with my husband this summer once per month.  I love spending time with my DH and need to open up an avenue that allows us to extend our relationship beyond raising kids.  I don’t want to wake up next to a stranger in thirteen years when Youngest flies the coop.
  2. I will write and submit a short story, poem or article for publication.  These are outside my typical writing goals and should add an extra spark to my writing life.  It will give me something to do when editor’s block sets in!


  1. I will write thank you notes.  Ach, my achilles heel.  I say thanks, but often forget the paper copy.  Everyone needs to feel appreciated for their efforts and a simple card shouldn’t be so hard to figure out.  After all, I’m a writer.  Right?
  2. I will write another complete novel.  It may be during NaNo if I can’t fit it in elsewhere.  Ideally, however, finishing two would be the bomb!

Each of my goals are attainable, within my control and measurable.  Yet, I cannot execute any of these goals without weighing the impact on others or the process of reaching the goal itself–hence my word of the year.  Let the introspection begin!

How do you assess your success?  Do your aspirations have realistic and measurable outcomes?  If not, think about how you can improve your goals to better ensure success.  After all, nothing is worse than setting yourself up for sure failure. 

Best wishes in 2010!