New Year, New Goals

The new 2017 calendar is on the wall. So, as usual, while I don't make resolutions, I have set up a few goals to keep me moving forward all year. Whether I accomplish them remains to be seen. The point is simply to give myself some direction when life gets crazy and I start spinning.

It's a bit odd to consider where to put my attention in the coming months, since this is a year full of horizons and possibilities. I'll earn my MFA in May, so I could find ways to apply those lovely letters to new career pursuits. My lease is up again in July, all of my freelance work can be handled remotely, and Zac Brown is singing "Colder Weather" on my speakers right now, so I could hit the road and find a new home base. My two-or-three-cars-worth of student loans start coming due in November, so, ironically, I could start living in my car (or I could get on the stick and increase my income ahead of time, like a responsible grown-up person).

Needless to say, I'm not sure what I'll be doing with myself by the second half of this year, nor where. That's why my 2017 goals are all about incremental progress and passing milestones that naturally open up the next set of opportunities. Have a look: 

1. For the last year and a half, I've accepted that my earning potential would be restricted by my graduate school efforts. This is the year that balance shifts, however, which is why my first goal has two parts. The first is to equal my 2016 income by the end of September while having additional work lined up through the end of the year.

The second is to equal my 2016 income from agencies with direct client work in 2017. I'm very lucky that former coworkers now working for various marketing agencies call on me when they need extra hands or expertise. At the same time, agency work is unpredictable, which poses some logistical challenges. I know that I can live on the income I earned in 2016, though, so my aim is to stabilize that number with direct clients, while serving my agency clients as usual.

2. This is also the year when my book shifts from side project to publishable "thing" that can be pitched to interested people (and, I hope, acquired). The first part of this goal is to pursue the tasks that will complete my book proposal. At this point, that means strengthening my author platform by submitting articles and essays for publication, making contact with people who have access to potential readers' eyes and ears, engaging more meaningfully in social media, and getting out in front of some audiences as a speaker.

The second part is to complete and revise two sample chapters to a submittable standard. This is a normal part of the nonfiction book proposal and it really shouldn't be such a challenge. However, due to my subject matter, security checks, and research hiccups, it's a pretty big hurdle to clear; doing so will mean the book as a whole is in good shape. The end result is that I can start submitting formal queries to agents and/or publishers.

3. If the goal above has to do with the business of publishing a book, this one has to do with the art and craft of writing one. I wrote half the book using one structure, then shifted and began revising it according to a slightly altered structure. Neither direction feels exactly right, which is enough to drive a writer to madness. So I will be working to sort out the basics to complete the research and writing of the whole first draft. It's an urgent story, and I'm about done dawdling with "perhapses" while an elderly man sits in jail.

4. In 2016, I had all sorts of doctors' appointments from April through June. Then I took a month's worth of skin off my heels on the first outing with a new pair of running shoes in July. And I had a pretty nifty surgery in August that laid me up for a few weeks, running- and bouncing-wise. As a result, I aspire once again this year to run at least two 5Ks, the first in the spring or early summer.

5. I think I drive my trainer slightly batty when he verifies my training goals now and again. I tend to tell him that I want to be able to do whatever I want without thinking about it, and without being self-conscious. Those are positive and attainable goals that are also entirely subjective and not prone to measurement. I can get on board with bringing body fat percentage into the healthy range and keeping it there. I have a target weight range in mind, but I'm not attached to a specific number ... because when I'm fit, I weigh about 20 pounds more than other women of my shape, anyway. And spare me the clothing size goals ... as long as I have the option of walking in to Tractor Supply and buying a pair of Levis or Wranglers off the rack, I'm all good.

That said, I've dropped 40+ pounds since April 2016 and I've dropped several inches and a clothing size or two since I started training at the beginning of October. So, this year, keeping my trainer's numeric objectivity in mind, I want to get under my first milestone weight (on track for June-ish) and reach the top end of my target weight range (probably September or so). In a non-numeric twist, I still want to put on the blue lace dress that's hiding in the closet, which should be a definite possibility by year's end. 

So, 2017 ... ready, steady, go!

PS: What was I doing in my month away from the blog? Updating the About page. Adding some details, pricing hints, and scheduling notes to the Services page. Tweaking the book overview. Not to mention accomplishing any number of tasks offline.