Dreams to Goals

I’ve said in an earlier post that I make goals, not resolutions. The reason I gave was that resolutions are not actionable (I didn’t put it exactly this way, but that’s it in a nutshell.) A resolution is “I’m going to do this one vague thing”, and without a plan and the ability to revise it, it’s just a wish. A goal is the path to success.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

On the other hand, my idea of making plans instead of resolutions isn’t very aspirational. It focuses on the prosaic mind, the part of existence that Gets It Done. How does that prosaic mind know what to get done? Through manipulating dreams into goals. “I would love it if…” becomes “I will do this” and a goal is born. From “How do I make this happen?” the goal becomes the basis for a plan.

I might as well admit I have dreams. I’m superstitious about admitting them, because I’ve been ridiculed over them as a child. But without the dreams, my goals become repetitive, maintenance-based, and dull. So here are my dreams for the year:

  • I dream of being traditionally published.
  • I dream of having enough readership of my works that my name is recognized.
  • I dream of having enough readership to make it worthwhile to have a booth at Gatewaycon.
  • I dream of getting royalty payments from Amazon.

Lightning hasn’t struck me; I guess it’s okay to admit my dreams.

Taking the first dream as an example, let’s turn it into a goal:

I dream of getting traditionally published > I will submit a query to agents.

(Agents are gatekeepers to the traditional publishing process. Queries are the bundles of materials writers submit for their consideration. That bundle includes a cover letter, excerpts of the work in question, and a synopsis).

I will submit a query to agents > I develop a plan to do so; carry out the plan.

This is how the dream becomes a plan.

The one thing is that the execution of the plan doesn’t always mean success. This could be because of internal factors inside myself that need correction, problems with the plan that need fixing, or external factors that can be controlled for. And, sometimes, external factors beyond my control. The more outside factors beyond one’s control, the more likely the dream will stay at the dream stage. For example, if I dream of winning the lottery, there’s not much I can do to actually win it beyond buying one or more tickets.

New Year’s Day, I will set up goals based on these dreams and develop them into plans as I go through the year. It’s more fun dreaming them, but not as fruitful. Wish me luck.

Thinking about the New Year

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Christmas is over, and I am back from my holiday trip. New Year’s Eve is coming, and thoughts of the New Year flit through my vaguely ADHD mind.

As I’ve shared on this blog before, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, finding them a setup for failure. In short, a resolution looks like a goal, but it’s lacking the plan. And without the plan, the resolution fails. Plans fail as well, but built into the best of plans is a feedback loop where the planner diagnoses where and how they’ve failed and reworks the plan to take that into account.

I like the ritual part of resolutions and the clean slate of the new year, however. So I have my ritual. I think of all the things I want to accomplish for the year, and I do a little of each on New Year’s Day as a commitment to those things in my life.

These are the things I will be doing a little bit of on New Year’s Day:

  • Writing
  • Work
  • Leisure
  • Housework
  • Quality time with my husband
  • Petting cats
  • Promoting my writing
  • Indulging my warped sense of humor
  • Showing compassion
  • Socializing (at least on Facebook)

Although I won’t make any resolutions, I have goals I will pursue in 2023. The goals I have for my writing career are:

  • Revisit Apocalypse and send out queries
  • Finish Kringle on Fire and Avatar of the Maker
  • Develop an advertising plan for my existent books
  • Develop promo for Gaia’s Hands
  • Find a Big Audacious Goal

2022 was a low-key year for me. I’m willing to ramp up a bit for 2023.

What I Want Out of Writing

I’m still writing

After yesterday’s revelations, I’m still writing.

I will not be able to quit my day job, and at best I might enhance our income by $6 to $20k. But there’s value in writing, whether it is to express my thoughts and emotions, to explore skill-building, or to fantasize about making it big.

Time plus money = ?

I need to get value from my writing equivalent to the time (lots) and the money (considerably less) that I have put into my writing.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

However, whenever we fulfill a goal, value comes from two outcomes: changes (usually gains) in resources and satisfaction. Gains in resources don’t have to be monetary — they can be in terms of knowledge and experience. Satisfaction comes from completing goals, and the feeling of that satisfaction differs by where it comes from. The deepest satisfaction comes from satisfying higher-order goals, goals that come from higher values like beauty, truth, and accomplishment.

Looking at my time and money spent writing, I see that I have increased greatly in both experience and knowledge about writing. I have written several pieces, both short and long, and that represents another gain in resources. And, having satisfied the higher-level goals of accomplishment and knowledge, I feel this satisfaction very deeply.

(Note: The discussion on the outputs from fulfilling goals, or the value-creating activities, comes from family resource management theory, which I taught for close to 20 years. For a summary of resource management theories, read here.)

What I want out of writing

I, of course, have been analyzing this question of what I want out of writing to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth, as it were. This is the list I came up with:

  • To learn about writing
  • To get people to read my work
  • To enjoy my time writing
  • To be able to call myself an author
  • To improve in my writing
  • To enjoy a hobby

I think there are good enough reasons here to keep me writing.

How about you?

What is a goal of yours and what does it give you?


I feel like I’m finally moving forward.

I’ve been working hard these past few weeks on all things Gaia. It’s been a fruitful week, with 320 new friends on Tik Tok, 25 people on my mailing list, and a handful of beta-readers and ARC readers for Gaia’s Hands. This might happen — I may get a book out in August.

Is there an addiction to accomplishment?

I think I’m addicted to accomplishing something. I know this is a typical drive for people, but many people get this accomplishment by doing crossword puzzles.

Artists and writers get this sense of accomplishment by creating things. Getting them out there for people is often secondary to actually making the artwork or story, and in fact many creatives (including myself) cringe at the marketing part.

When am I going to slow down?

I will have no choice but to slow down next week. Because of the end of COVID, I finally will be able to go to one of my favorite retreats, The Elms, to have a spa vacation/writing retreat. Mostly spa vacation, because I have much of a day to get a massage and spend time in saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms. All in all not a bad way to relax.

Am I manic yet?

I don’t think so. Every day I take an afternoon nap and I get 7 hours of sleep a night. Those are not the signs of a manic swing. I have to worry about this because mania and depression are part of my life. Things I watch for:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Elation
  • Horribly painful crushes on people
  • Irritability
  • Starting up a whole bunch of new projects

Don’t worry — I’m keeping an eye on me.

Soooo Tired

It’s the end of the school year

There’s so much I want to accomplish, but — all I want to do is sleep. I thought I would get away with not having the end-of-year crash, but I’m back to wanting to crawl back into bed with a feeling of murkiness.

It happens every year. I survive till the end of semester, and then crash. I’m trying not to let the crash win this year, but I slept all afternoon yesterday after accomplishing my one task (my first Tik Tok; to be found here.)

Choosing to be slightly productive

It occurs to me that I am standing between two extremes here — being productive all day or sleeping all day. That’s a failing of mine — black and white thinking. So maybe I need to make a temporary goal: productive in the mornings, sleepy after lunch. I’m hoping it will work, because I’m tired right now, having awakened an hour and a half ago.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

Maybe today it’s just setting goals time, and more specific than “work on something for three hours a day.” I found how effective that was yesterday, where other than the Tik Tok I accomplished … nothing. Ok, I guess I plantsed the outline for the last three Kel and Brother Coyote installments. I didn’t write.

That all or nothing thinking

I did it again. In that last paragraph, I started accelerating my goals, hinting that TikTok and editing the video, and outlining the rest of a novella were not enough. That’s the sort of thing that will get me into all-or-nothing thinking. Not where I want to be,

How do I change that? With a more specific goal, such as:

  • I will make and edit a Tik Tok for three mornings this week.
  • I will write two sections of a Kel and Brother Coyote story per week, in the mornings
  • I will explore ideas for short stories two afternoons a week (preferably over coffee)
  • I will take 5 minutes per hour for social media. in the mornings

I hope this works! If it doesn’t, I’ll adjust it.


My summer is about to begin

The only thing standing between me and summer is one final due today at noon. All I have to do is grade it, turn the grades in, and I am done with this school year.

The trouble with free time

What do I have planned? Not enough. I have sixteen interns to supervise over the summer, and I have a lot of time to do things. But the problem with a lot of time to do things is that it’s too easy to do nothing. The old saying is that work expands to fill the time. My experience is the opposite: Nothing expands to fill the time. I watch reruns on my computer, surf for hours, and engage in ‘horizontal snoring meditation’ (i.e. naps).

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

The best use of my time

This is a question I’m going to keep asking myself over the summer — “Is this the best use of my time”? This question, if I’m being honest with myself, is the best motivator. Sometimes horizontal snoring meditation is the best use of my time; other times, it’s a waste. Many times, writing or the like will be the best use of my time. But this should keep me from too much dawdling.

Setting goals

I need to set some goals for the summer. Goals should be SMART. Which means:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action Oriented
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Goals help motivation by giving focus and standards and deadlines. I have not made my goals SMART yet, but here’s the beginning:

  • I will work on writing/plotting at least 2 hours a day
  • I will finish a short story or poem once a week

These may be overly ambitious, but I need to push myself or else I will get sucked into the void.

My work cut out for me

If I can stick with the goals (and if they’re realistic) I should have a fruitful summer. We shall see.

Losing my Will to Write

 I’m losing the will to get published.

It was my big goal for 2020, and I fulfilled it through self-publishing The Kringle Conspiracy. I got to do all the things I wanted to do with that publication — a book launch party, signing books. I didn’t sell many copies with royalties so far at $37, but it got the attention I thought it would get.

Now, I don’t feel the need to get published, which was the factor driving me to write. I am sitting on several books in the fantasy genre, and I’m having a horribly hard time getting the attention of agents. 
One has been sitting at DAW for so long with no response that I think it has mummified.  I don’t want to self-publish them because I don’t know how to market them as they deserve. 

So right now there is no stretch goal. There is no goal at all for my writing, and this is hard to struggle against. If anyone has any ideas for how I can get my mojo back, please let me know. 

Revisiting the Goals at the End of February (Goal-setting)

Here’s my writing goals list for the year as of today:

Goal Sheet:

  •  Develop a platform plan by March 1, 2020
  • Revise Whose Hearts are Mountains via developmental edit by March 1, 2020
  • Send 30 queries for Whose Hearts are Mountains by March 1, 2020
  •  Send 30 queries for Whose Hearts are Mountains by April 1, 2020
  • Send 30 queries for Whose Hearts are Mountains by May 1, 2020
  •  Send 50 queries for Gaia’s Hands by December 1, 2020
  • Write/submit 5 short stories/poems/flash fiction by December 31, 2020
    • Inner Child – January 30
    • Kel and Brother Coyote Make a Deal – February 15  


  • Develop idea for next novel 
  • Get an agent 
  • Discuss with agent further books
  • Publish my first book 
  • Develop personal sales presence

I guess I’m not doing too badly. 

Short-term goals tend to build into longer-term goals, and long-term goals can build on each other. I’m currently working on the “getting an agent” part through queries, and if I get an agent to take me on, the queries section of the short-term goals will likely resolve itself. Publishing the book, on the other hand, will take years once I have a publisher, so it’s really long-term.
Personal sales presence is something I can’t really develop (other than developing a platform, which I am doing).

And I have ideas for a next novel. Almost too many, given that I’ve been advised to focus my efforts on shorter fiction. But I’ll pick one by NaNoWriMo (November), then start writing it.

I may have to come up with more goals at this rate. 

Vision Board (Personal Development)

On January 2nd, I made a vision board — or rather, a vision book, as I didn’t have any place in my room to post poster board. 

What is a vision board?
A vision board is a motivational tool using pictures and sometimes text to render what’s most important to a person into visual form. This can be done in poster or book form or online, and could utilize photos, clip art, or other visual symbols. 

How does it work?
Many proponents of a vision board believe in the Law of Attraction — that we can attract good fortune. I do not, largely because it seems selfish to me. I tend to believe that it helps me to focus on my goals and, thus, helps me to motivate toward what I think is most important.

What does my vision book look like?
It takes up six pages of a larger book that I should be documenting my success in. The pages are: Writing, getting published, marriage, teaching, research, and time management.

Does it motivate me?
When I first made it, it greatly motivated me. It felt like a ritual, and I’m a great fan of rituals. Now, a month out, I feel I need to look at them again, maybe on a daily basis. 

Do I need to make a ritual to look at it daily?
Most certainly yes. Or make an actual board to hang on the back of the door.

Stretch Goals (Personal development)

A Reminder: All Goals Should Be Smart

I know I’ve talked about SMART goals — all our goals should be Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. It’s good to write these down to have something to refer to and direct your energy.

Stretch Goals!
But what if we fulfill those goals? We need new goals, and we want them to continue the progress of the met goals. Stretch goals are these next level of goals. They should be as we’re nearing success in the first tier of goals, so we can build them using the momentum we currently have.

  • I am nearing 1000 followers on Twitter. Now I would like to see 2k. I now plan I will acquire 2000 followers by June 1 through a combination of getting my name out there by making and following and liking posts, and following others. 
  • I have just finished the developmental edit stage of my WIP. My next stage is to find beta readers, then collect their comments and edit some more. (This goal has not reached SMART goal status; notice I haven’t developed it enough to make it SMART)
What now?
Look at your goals. What’s the next step? Start plotting that! 
If you want help with that or SMART goals, drop me an email at lleachie@gmail.com.