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12 X 12 January 2020 Featured Author – Shannon Stocker

12 x 12 January 2020 Featured Author – Shannon Stocker

A New Year’s Revelation

I’ve had a revelation.

New Year’s resolutions suck.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate goals. Holiday cookies stick to my thighs too, y’all. But every spring, when January resolutions dart away like dandelion seeds in a hurricane, I kick myself and mutter mean words like weak and failure at the mirror.

But then, two years ago, I was struck by one of my favorite expressions: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Every year, I made a list of New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes the list was long. Sometimes, not so much. But every single year, at some point…life happened.

Perhaps it was an illness, or a job change, or simply a favor that someone asked of me. But every year, when that “thing” happened, my shiny new habit became a tarnished good intention.

And we all know where good intentions lead.

So great. Now I had this “resolutions suck” revelation, but it didn’t change the fact that I have goals. Wants, needs, desires…things I want to do, places I want to go, people I want to help. How could I go about making changes in my life if I couldn’t even keep a promise to exercise three measly times a week?

And that’s when it hit me.

Can U Save the Day by Shannon StockerI don’t have to promise myself that I’ll exercise three times a week FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR to get on an elliptical THIS WEEK. What if, instead of biting off a whole year at once, I nibble on just a month at a time? Or even a week? What would happen if I made a list of resolutions that fit my schedule, rather than trying to fit my schedule around a list of resolutions?

It was more than an idea.

It was a revelation.

This past year, some of my critique partners committed to monthly resolutioning with me (no, that’s not a word – but it should be). I’m not sure if I’ve been more productive as a result of the altered planning, but I can say with absolute certainty that I’m more at peace with myself because of it. I mutter less at the mirror, anyway.

Here are five ways to create shorter-term resolutions that can set you up for success:

1) Aim for specific, easy-to-achieve targets.

For example, don’t say you want to sell a story this year. Instead, say you want to write a new draft that only you could write. Maybe you’ll like that draft so much that your next goal will be to revise it; maybe you’ll hate the draft and your next goal will be to write something altogether different. Either way, once you’ve accomplished your specific goal for that month/week, check it off (and oh, how satisfying that is!). If you don’t finish your draft (but you still want to), then you can put it on the next month’s list. It’s easy to forget you’ve fallen when you’re back on the bike.

2) Reorganize your list of priorities each month/week.

Don’t feel like you’re stuck with a list of resolutions just because you once wrote them down. Maybe it’s time to dust off that manuscript about a squirrel with amnesia because you just met an editor who’s looking for that exact story? Perhaps your child got the flu, so maybe this will be the week to catch up on #ReFoReMo books? Schedules change. Life happens. We can let the waves smack us in the face or we can ride them to shore.

3) Look at your schedule first and then set realistic goals.

If the month ahead holds two family birthdays, Derby, end-of-school parties, Mother’s Day, and summer planning (I’m looking at you, May), then have your goals reflect your capacity. Literally, my December goals this year are:
a. Work on memoir.
b. Do critiques.
c. Keep children and pets alive.
d. Survive Christmas.
Any more than that and I’d be setting myself up for failure.

4) Accountability matters.

I’ve always worked better on a deadline, with a trainer, etc. For me, critique partners are a critical piece of the puzzle, no matter what my genre-of-the-week might be. Consider sharing your goals with someone else and you just might find you’re more motivated to actually achieve them. And who knows? They might be, too.

5) If you write in multiple genres, as I do, then bouncing between them can be difficult.

My PB voice is NOTHING like my memoir voice, is NOTHING like my MG voice. Compartmentalizing can be tough to do, but it’s also oh-so-important. Monthly resolutions are my lodestar. It’s ok to step away from one genre for a month or two. If you’re setting resolutions monthly, you get twelve new chances to prioritize every year!

Anais Nin once said, “I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” I would argue that today, in 2020, New Year’s resolutions are often unrealistic for all of us because of the daily grind. Some days, we spit out tasks like nail guns and we feel like superheroes when the sun goes down. Other days, we’re dragged through the puddles and come out on the other side feeling physically soggy and emotionally spent. It’s impossible to predict which days we will wear capes and which days we will stay in pajamas.

I can only predict that this year, both will happen.

So this year, I wish for you…focus. I wish for you patience, whether you’re in capes or pajamas. And I wish for you copious, bite-sized revelations.

May you chew them all successfully.

 

Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who lives in Louisville, KY, with her husband, Greg, and their children, Cassidy and Tye. Her debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY (Sleeping Bear Press), released in 2019, her nonfiction PB bio about Evelyn Glennie entitled LISTEN: HOW ONE DEAF GIRL CHANGED PERCUSSION comes out with Dial (Penguin/Random House) in 2022, and several of Shannon’s nonfiction essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate, and a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes and mantras @iwriteforkidz. Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.

For our first 12 x 12 check-in of the year, Shannon is offering a signed copy of CAN U SAVE THE DAY! Be sure to get registered and write your first draft of the year for your best chance to win! Watch your email for registration details!

This Post Has 423 Comments
  1. It was so awesome to meet you at SCBWI-Midsouth in 2018! I have a similar resolution to stop making resolutions and focus on short-term goals.

  2. This article is perfect timing – thank you! I hate making new years resolutions because of exactly what you describe. Life gets in the way. I am going to make short term flexible goals this year.

  3. Shannon—thank you so much for this timely article!! So much of this resonated with me. I loved your revelation of committing for shorter periods of time, of finding balance and going with the flow of life, the permission to change our goals whenever we need to and, my favorite thing, to learn about the many literary genres and all the roles you play. You are a super star! 🌟 Thank you for sharing your talent!

  4. I love the idea of short(er) term goals, and–revelation–checking in with my calendar to plan goals for the month! Why didn’t’t I think go this? It’s so simple and SUCH a practical, common-sense thing to do!

  5. You have such a talent with words, Shannon–really enjoyed all those analogies. But to be honest, I’m totally fan-girling now that I know you were that close to Blake 🙂 Lucky you! Thanks for sharing those tips & good luck with your upcoming NF debut!

  6. “It’s impossible to predict which days we will wear capes and which days we will stay in pajamas.” So true! I love your idea of monthly resolutions. That’s one of the reasons 12×12 works for me. And I take it further & have weekly goals. On the weeks I’m wearing pjs, I have to push some of those goals to the next week, but sometimes I’m wearing a cape the next week. Thanks for the post!

  7. Shannon! This is exactly what I’ve been thinking these past three days! I’m putting up a sign in my office and above the screen on my Mac that says, “Kick Ass!” And I’m setting reasonable goals for each week, after checking the calendar and assessing the attention our family health issues will demand. Life gets in the way–always–so instead of letting it be the reason or the excuse for not getting things done, let it into the time & project management process.

    This is going to be my week to make things happen. And next week will be my week to make more things happen. And the week after that will be my week to…

    1. LOVE that sign! I’m gonna take your lead and make one, too. And on those weeks where we intend to kick ass but don’t, then we lift our heads, count our blessings for the things that DID get done (even if they have nothing to do with writing), and we start from scratch again the next week. You go, girl!

  8. Shannon,
    I love how you shift from one genre to the next. I will use this for a model of how I juggle the variety of projects I choose to do.

    1. LOL – I’m not sure I had much say in the coma, but I think I’m proudest of coming through that with my hope intact. I opened for Blake waaaaaaay early in his career (a few of us played two songs each during the regional Nashville Star competition), so I think it sounds much more impressive than it really was!

  9. Shannon, thank you for your great insights and 5 ways to be inspired for the new writing year and process. You have placed it in a nice way and yet challenging enough to get us started in the right direction.

  10. Coming up with achievable goals is so crucial, as is working within the framework of all our other commitments for a the day, the week, whatever. I like your very practical suggestions! Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  11. Thank you for an workable approach to goals laced with humor. Also a good use of critique partners to plan and commit to projects. Again, many thanks.

  12. Sound advice! I’m part of a weekly mastermind group where we discuss what will bring us joy that week and then go about accomplishing those goals. I find this kind of accountability works really well while having a group to fall back on if things aren’t going according to plan.

  13. What a great post to kick of the new year, Shannon! I like this whole vibe of being easy on ourselves. I’m down for that. Congratulations on all your success!

  14. Absolutely brilliant and so much more realistic. I know I’m trying to do too much at once, so this post was a timely reminder to slow down and breathe and not over commit, because doing that only means NOTHING gets done.

  15. Thanks, great suggestions! I love the idea of monthly resolutioning- and being flexible enough to include pajama days!

  16. Great advice, Shannon, from someone who juggles an amazing amount of balls in the air. Managing goals is always a challenge but your tips will definitely help.

  17. This is the absolute best blog I’ve read re New Year’s and resolutions. Your list is adaptable and achievable. Thank you, SHANNON.

  18. I’m sold! Your post has confirmed to me that trying to set long term targets isn’t massively helpful when you cannot predict what life might throw at you. I too love to be able to tick something off a list – so shorter term, REALISTIC goals are the future for me. Thanks fo sharing.

  19. Thank you Shannon! I’ve finally realized this myself and got myself a new “Commit 30” planner. You create a new goal for each month … because we can do anything for 30 days. 🙂

  20. Hi Shannon, Thanks for the great advice! My critique group meets next week to go over our yearly goals and of course I get panicky because of the insanity definition. I know what to do…just getting to it and sticking with it. Have a wonderful new year!

  21. Such a great perspective! I am always re-evaluating and reconsidering my goals! I love the idea of thinking about this every month. Life has a way of changing my plans and directions.

  22. I felt inspired not only by the message of your post, but also by your great similes! Congrats on your publications!

  23. I love this post, Shannon. Aligning goals one month at a time is a great approach. I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with switching between MG and PB. The struggle is real. Now I feel reassured in giving a whole month or two to one or the other. Good luck with your writing endeavors. Chew on. 🙂

  24. Oh, boy, “YES,” Shannon…RESOLUTIONS “suck” big time! As Julie Hedlund has said, they come from a place of loss or failure from the previous year. I like your “take-charge” attitude and thoughts, Shannon. Life does mess up our plans more often than we want but keep writing, keep setting REALISTIC goals in small chunks. Yes to all of that! Thank you for inspiring us. Sending you energy and encouragement for your continued success… CHEERS for 2020!

    1. That comment of Julie’s resonated with me as well. I used to set yearly resolutions with that “where-did-I-fail-last-year” mindset, and it’s just such a negative way to start trying to accomplish anything. Sending energy and encouragement right back at you, girl!

  25. What a wonderful, inspiring article to start us off on this year of “focus” – thank you! Additionally, your bio is amazing!

  26. Hi Shannon, I sat down to write today but found myself reading your post instead, which turned out to be exactly what I needed. I too, have said all those things to my mirror. I too, have struggled to believe in myself. It’s nice to know I am not alone. So after a good cry, I pulled myself away form my computer and exercised instead. Just for today though, tomorrow will find in better spirits thanks to you. I wish you continued success in the new year, and thank you for taking the time out to help me slog through my day.

    1. Wow. I want to hug you. No, you are not alone. I believe we rarely are…especially when we feel most isolated. Be proud of yourself for exercising – that’s an accomplishment I haven’t managed in two months. Some days everything feels like a struggle. But you know what? Some days everything feels like a joy. Your cape days will come, as will mine. Sending lots of love and encouragement your way.

      1. I certainly understand goals and priorities being shifted. It really helps to have priorities in order and be able to say no, when people ask you to add more things to that push you away from reaching your goals.

  27. Thank you for helping me set realistic goals and focus on writing and submissions this year. I have waited too long to get something out there and try to interest an agent or editor. Now is the time to begin.

  28. Great post, Shannon! Thank you for giving us a peek at your publishing journey and for sharing your insights on bite-sized resolutions! After life kicked my butt this past year I love the idea of setting reasonable goals for each month. Life always gets in the way so instead of letting it be the reason for my not getting anything done, I’m going to take “itty bitty” bites and savor them along the way.

  29. Thank you for sharing these words! I sincerely appreciate your December goals…especially c and d. What you’ve said here holds so many truths. Love to you during yer cape AND pajama days!

  30. I love the bite-sized approach to resolutions. Maybe doing one month at a time will remind me to think about my priorities. Also, I can’t get months behind!

  31. What an excellent post! Thank you, Shannon. I think what often defeats us are our own good intentions. Your advice to tackle things in bite-sized, realistic nibbles is spot on and now I’m determined to turn setbacks into minor detours instead.

  32. I’m with you on re-prioritizing goals during the year. Of course things are going to happen that change my course a bit. Thanks for the reminder to not beat ourselves up over it.

  33. Love your sense of humor and I can’t wait to read your NF book! Great advice, thank you! Now, I am off to look at my monthly schedule and plan a couple of writing goals around it for January…

  34. Happy New Year! I’m definitely a goal-setter and like the idea of “monthly resolutioning.” Good luck in May!

  35. I used to set resolutions, too, but gave up completely. I don’t even do what you changed to, but I need to. I will look at my expectations in terms of family and work, then set some realistic goals for what I can and cannot do, when I can and cannot write. Thanks for the ideas leading to a self butt kick!

  36. Bite-size pieces–I love it! One of my favorite phrases is “little steps for little feet.” Sometimes I feel like I have very little feet (especially when I’m trying something for the first time) and I try to remember I need to let myself go slow!

  37. Shannon, thank you for letting us off the hook and also holding us accountable. Ima try the weekly thing instead of the yearly one. Happy 2020!!!

  38. I hear you! Sometimes a month is too long. I think making resolutions on a daily basis can even be useful: today I’m going t write one scene for my MG novel and spend 1 hour revising Picture Book X. And then take kids to the dentist, walk the dog, prepare docs for the accountant, etc.

  39. Thank you for this, Shannon. I found myself exhaling in relief. It is particularly helpful to re-frame the idea of identifying weekly or monthly priorities. That feels more manageable than being flattened by an self-imposed ultimatum set for the year. Taking that pressure off does feel like focus, accountability and patience are possible.

  40. Thank you, Shannon. I love your sense of humor, and I love the idea of bite-sized resolutioning (yes, it should definitely be a word)!

  41. All of 2019 smacked my goals for everything. I’m re-generating and focusing on moving forward with my life in 2020. I didn’t make any resolutions. I’m comforted by your post, Shannon. I’ll tackle everything in bite-sized portions.

  42. Another brilliant piece of writing from you, my dear CP! I love everything about this post! The permission, the strategies, the encouragement, and the humor! (I know, I just broke the rules of three, but I couldn’t choose!) I most especially love this line: “It’s easy to forget you’ve fallen when you’re back on the bike.”

  43. Brilliant revelation, Shannon! Thanks for sharing. And I’m going to get your book — I have one in the works about R!

  44. Awesome post, Shannon. I love the idea of realistic – especial “keep kids & pets alive” and bite-sized goals. Thank you so much. It was a great reminder that sometimes we have to check our “capes” at the door.

  45. Great interview! I love the idea of looking at each day/week/month instead of writing (in ink) resolutions for the entire year. For me, I think it would really work for me to look at each day, at the beginning of the day, and the week. Of course, knowing in the back of my mind what is due when would help with the breaking down of goals. And I LOVE to check things off a list. Thank you!

  46. This post is comprised entirely of relatable content! It’s such a breath of relief to break down the struggles of goals and accountability with people from our own flock. My critique group sets monthly goals, and it helps us with time management, accountability, and self-awareness. I’m so thankful to use that manageable to-do list, rather than look ahead to the year, with a grand list of resolutions, as you mentioned! 🙂

  47. Congratulations on your book Shannon! I’m aiming to make each day 1% better than the day before. Small bites and steady progress wins the day. Thanks for the reminder.

  48. As someone who likes the idea of goal-setting but constantly finds myself letdown by my self, your words were a great reminder to start small and start again. Here is to a year full of starts that eventually builds to a finish.

  49. Great thoughts! I like to run… when it’s not too hot and not too cold. I don’t normally make year long goals, but this year I decided to working on running consistency, but to give myself some space, I decided I only HAVE to run 1 mile a week. I can find the time to do that, and I can force myself to have the willpower to get outside for a bit. The bonus – once I’m out I realize it’s not as terrible as I thought.

  50. I like to make a fun resolution for the year. Last year, I resolved to read all of the Asimov Robots stories and novels. I didn’t complete it, but it was fun working on it.
    I still haven’t decided what this year’s will be. Lately I’ve become interested in drawing, so it might be something related to that, but still not anything that requires self discipline to stick to.

  51. I read your post at just the right time – was feeling overwhelmed and crappy about how far behind I am on my January goals. Feeling better now that I have re-prioritized around my schedule. There are only 24 hours in a day. I’m putting time allocations next to my daily goals so that I can judge if they are realistic and achievable. Thanks for sharing the advice and helping me gain perspective.

  52. I love this idea of short-term goals instead of resolutions. I stopped making resolutions several years ago. I could never keep them all year long and just ended up feeling guilty.

    1. Perfectly aligned with our human imperfections. Thank you, what a relief! You’ve breathed fresh air into a difficult challenge for many. I’ll be following you.

      Here’s to your continued successes!

  53. Thank you Shannon for the great advice as we kick off a new year! I also write for both kids (PBs and poetry for starters) and adults. So your insights about handling multiple genres really helped me! I’m going to experiment with setting priorities for different genres on different days of the week, or maybe weeks in the month. I think that will help me focus rather than feel all over the place!
    Of course, I could give up a few of my writing interests instead, but NOoooo, I want to do it all 😉
    Congratulations on your published books. I look forward to reading them!

  54. Thank you for the reminder to set realistic, shorter-term goals — I’m working on a week at a time, but actually a daily plan would be even better. I have a blackboard hanging in the hallway and instead of the usual reminders (“do taxes”, “pay bills” etc. lol) I’m going to start listing daily writing goals. : )

  55. Shannon,

    Thank you so much for your great and practical advice. It makes perfectly great sense. Years ago I learned that “Life is Loud” so a small bites notion works for me. I noticed, too, that you had written for Chicken Soup for the Soul. A LONG time ago, I was part of the initial editing team for three of their projects. So much fun and really interesting.

    Thanks again,
    Avi Magid

  56. All of this resonates with me! Especially #4-–”Accountability.” I think this is the first year I’m talking out loud about some of my PB writing and it’s definitely the first year I’ve had a critique group. Feels like both of these are key to getting to another level. Thanks, Shannon!

    1. Hi Shannon! Thanks for the terrific post. I’m not much of a resolution maker myself. I make smaller sets of goals and sometimes modify them several times throughout the year. Your post was a perfect way to start of 2020. Thanks for sharing. Have a great year.

  57. Hi Shannon! Thanks for the terrific post. I’m not much of a resolution maker myself. I make smaller sets of goals and sometimes modify them several times throughout the year. Your post was a perfect way to start of 2020. Thanks for sharing. Have a great year.

  58. Hi Shannon! Thanks for the terrific post. I’m not much of a resolution maker myself. I make smaller sets of goals and sometimes modify them throughout the year. While I want to be successful, I don’t want to box myself in and/or stretch myself too thin.

    Your post was a perfect way to start of 2020. Thanks for sharing. Have a great year.

  59. Hi Shannon! Thanks for sharing the insight on your resolution revelation! Breaking it down certainly will help make goals more attainable. And “monthly resolutioning” definitely should be a word!

  60. I too hate resolutions and I have decided to cast them out! I love all of your tips and your December goal list made me giggle. I choose to focus on weekly goals!

  61. I have made personal long term goals (like no new clothes in 2020) and smaller ones. Usually, for writing or “task”-oriented projects, smaller chunks are more attainable. One goal that I’m going to make (starting today) is to make sure I read the POST FOR THE MONTH in 12×12! (I totally forgot about this.) For me, having a system to check off (like a calendar or notebook list of to-dos) always helps. Thanks for your reminders and tips.

  62. All great tips! Goals that I have control over are the goals I should be trying to reach and it’s so important to remember that.

  63. I LOVE this! I heard recently that we aren’t even able to accurately envision ourselves further out than 6 months. When we picture ourselves a year from now, we picture an entirely different person! I’m going to take this challenge and try some monthly goals!

  64. Great post! I agree 100% about ditching resolutions for monthly goals. I am so much more productive with this system.

  65. I’ve never much liked yearlong resolutions because motivation and accountability are not my strong suit. Maybe working in month-sized bites would be a lot more manageable. And I love the thought of having CPS help keep you accountable. Mine are great motivators, but I haven’t yet tried expanding that support network to accountability.

    Thanks for sharing!

  66. It’s funny – I had so much life happen right before the New Year that for the first time in ages I forgot to make a resolution! It’s a little…freeing, haha. But I’m thinking I’ll take your suggestions to heart and just start Feb 1st. 🙂

  67. Thanks for the resolution against resolutions, Shannon, or rather against too big resolutions. Taking small steps every day toward our goals will get us where we need to go and give us time to appreciate the scenery along the way.

  68. Wonderful post, Shannon. I love the idea that some days we wear capes, and some days it’s pajamas. I love your book, but like you even more now that I know you also recognize the Derby as a major event in May. Great advice in this post. Thank you!

  69. I love the way you think…and your definition of insanity. Whoa…get out side of that stagnant box. Thank you, Shannon. By the way, your book(s) sound great. Congratulations!

  70. Thank you. My take away from this is: Be flexible and be nice to yourself! Have a wonderful, Good-to-Yourself, year!

  71. Oh wow what a great post and so timely. Since starting 12 x 12 my new goal is to do one small thing a day. Suddenly makes the whole thing a lot more realistic. Thanks

    1. Your resume reads like someone who has or has had too much on her plate! No wonder you had to change your resolutions into much smaller chunks. Sanity is an important thing to keep!

  72. Love the line, “It’s easy to forget you’ve fallen when you’re back on the bike.” Great writing to help set us on a successful path for 2020. Thank you.

  73. I decided long ago that resolutions suck, but I have trouble setting specific goals. This idea of setting short term goals is brilliant. Thank you!

  74. I can handle bite-sized resolutions and baby steps. At least I’m still moving toward my goals! Thanks for reminding us all that failure is not a flaw, it’s just part of a life well-lived!

  75. Thanks for much Shannon! I like the idea of shorter term resolutions and Che king in with yourself and others on them. Happy writing!

  76. Resolutions are tough. I gave up on them years ago. I like to think of goals as life-style changes. They are easier for me to internalize. I also believe that failure is never the final thing. It is an opportunity to know yourself and examen what you truly need.

  77. What a relief that we CAN’T do it all! Thank you for giving us permission to set realistic goals and to include “life” as a huge part of our todo list. I enjoyed this article very much!

  78. These are all great ideas

    I have been struggling with meeting my resolutions, some I make mid-year and they are just as hard to keep up.

    On the advice of a very smart person, I created a spreadsheet with all my projects and tasks, for example, each edit is a new draft, networking, getting feedback…)

    When I accomplish something, I color in a box and feel terrific. It gives me a boost of satisfaction.

    The multicolored colored page shows me I am moving forward in my journey.

    Have a great new year,
    Ayelet

  79. I wrote a similar “new years” post for my website about resolutions versus goals. I agree wholehearted with your assessment! Thanks for sharing it in this forum where so many authors will get the benefit of your wisdom.

  80. I always work better with a goal and a plan. But my goal must be controlled by me (I.e none of this “I’ll sell a book this year” stuff. That relies too much on others.) then I break down the goal into manageable pieces each month.

    This year my critique group and I decided to share our goals so we can keep each other motivated and accountable.

  81. Thank you for this post! I can relate to the difficulty switching between genres (MG and PB). Good idea to decide the focus for a particular month.

  82. I love your tips about the five ways to create shorter-term resolutions. Life often happens on my side of the pond. I often struggle to stay on track. Happy to know you also write in multiple genres. It’s tough but good practice. Congrats for your new book.

  83. Thanks for your post. It’s a great idea to give ourselves monthly goals instead of trying to make one (or more) big ones for the year. It makes it more achievable and realistic!

  84. I hear you on the challenges of resolutions! I still make mine, but mix them between big and small. Some will take more than a year to accomplish while others can be done in a day. I pair the list with a vision board I make and save as the background on my laptop. So every time I login to my computer, I get to look at a visual representation of all the things I hope to accomplish. It really keeps me motivated.

  85. Fantastic advice and inspiration, thank you, Shannon! I’m gonna buy a copy of your book for my school library–looking forward to reading it!

  86. Great blog post. I totally agree. I appropriate your thoughts and suggestions. This year I changed up the way I handle my resolutions too. This is going to be a great 2020!

  87. I’ve always liked the idea of short term resolutions/goals, especially if you can relate them to a big picture goal. A good reminder that small forward progress leads to bigger progress.

  88. Thank you for the tips, Shannon. Had a 1-week resolution to start exercising again after an injury–I did it! And your bio has me reeling! Congrats on all your success!

  89. Thanks for another inspiring post, Shannon. I enjoyed your Stormstorm piece this month as well! And I can’t wait to read your PB bio about Evelyn Glennie.

  90. Shannon, I love the revelation of bite-size resolutions that work around our schedules rather than fitting the schedule around our resolutions. Keep children, husband and pets alive? Yep, that’s a top priority. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us.

  91. I love your goal-setting advice. Perfect for the start of a new year. The section on tackling multiple genres was particularly helpful. Thank you, Shannon!

  92. Great reminder to be nice to ourselves. Focus fits very well with my word for the year, Purpose. I’m being nice to myself and getting things done with purpose and focus. So far, so good. Thanks for the inpsiration!

  93. I agree that it’s really helpful to have some easy-to-achieve goals. Otherwise, life gets so discouraging! Thanks (and I enjoy your blog interviews, too).

  94. It makes so much sense! Thank you for this advice, it’s all about breaking things down so they aren’t scary. Great way to start the new year!

  95. Hi Sharon,
    What joyful wisdom you share for REAL LIFE. Thank you! It’s so much more gentle to tell myself, “today I am working on my PB draft” than “I’ve got to find an agent, polish my manuscripts, work on a website by next December!!” The little bits don’t freak me out nearly so much. Thanks for inspiring me and have a lovely weekend.
    Stacy

  96. Thank you for the post Shannon! I totally agree with your revelation. That and also using a version of bullet journal changed my way of thinking about goals. Have a wonderful 2020.

  97. Thank you Shannon for this timely reminder. I have monthly goals as well as daily. If they don’t get done I add them to the next day or month. My bullet journal helps me to do this :-).

  98. Bite size pieces are awesome. I always get so overwhelmed when I think of the big picture. Often it is hard to remember that I can take small bites. I really like what you said about shortening the time frame for your goals as well. We don’t have to focus on doing something a particular way for a whole year to be able to do it today. I think sometimes when I focus too far into the future, I get overwhelmed and don’t get anything done today.

  99. I’m with you! Or, maybe you’re with me. I gave up resolutions long ago. They just made me feel guilty. I, like you, now have goals. They are much more achievable.

  100. Shannon, thanks for taking the time to give the details…much appreciated! I too decided this year to cut my goals into months and the steps you listed in your post are very helpful!

  101. Wonderful advice! I do a weekly storybuilding activity with my kindergarten class so I always have the opportunity to try out new ideas. They love it so much, they don’t let me forget it. I’ve actually gathered quite a few drafts on ideas we’ve brainstormed together.

  102. Love to keep my goals within reach – and short-term, so I have to hold myself more accountable! I’ve started to try out the app HabitShare for a few things (writing, drawing, exercise, etc.)… you can set different goal metrics for each thing you’re working on, and choose to share individual habits with friends, etc. to help hold yourself accountable (that part of course, is only as good as your friends… ha.) Somethings I aim to do daily, even for short spells of time, others it’s more like 3x/week… doesn’t matter the days, when, how, as long as I manage 3x! Even if friends don’t check it, it does feel good at the end of the day to open it up and check off boxes. Who doesn’t like to check off a box?!

  103. Thanks for sharing all this information! I think I should read it everyday to keep myself on track. I would LOVE to win a copy of your book! It looks amazing! Congrats on your success! I know we are all inspired by you!

  104. Your sense of humor about all of this makes a huge difference! The accountability and energy of 12 x 12 makes these bite-sized goals more acheiveable too. Thank you!

  105. “Copious. bite-sized revelations” sound like perfect goal-setting resolutions to me! Thanks for a wonderful start to 2020!

  106. I love that quote but in my sometimes upside down life I think it could be reversed: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and NOT expecting a different result.”

    Cheers to the unpredictable I say!

    And kudos, Shannon, to your caring heart, your lovely advice, and the wonderful work of art you’ve put in this not always predictable world!

  107. Thank you Shannon for your good and sensible advice about resolutions. It’s nice to hear an advocate for achievable success.

  108. I started January off with a mean case of Bronchitis and had planned to hit the reset button on monthly goals tomorrow. This post was incredibly timely for me!

  109. Words to the wise – and the weary. I have been thinking in “weeks” but have been spectacularly unsuccessful in my PB aims this month (done tons of other stuff though!) – this post is making me reframe my PB goals into days and hope that they’re more manageable. Thanks for the inspiration!

  110. Shannon, thanks so much for the inspiration! My overall plan for the year is to be more realistic and specific about goals. So I am doing a day by day (didn’t hit everything yesterday as I took a badly needed, three hour nap), weekly and monthly and already feeling better about me. I’m realizing how hard I was on me. Great post!

  111. These are great tips!

    As someone that’s working on picture books and a YA murder mystery at the same time, #5 really resonated with me.

  112. Shannon –

    It is refreshing to have resolutions for writers!!! We don’t get these very often and need them! Thank you!

    Shelly

  113. Thanks for confirming it’s ok to chew one bite at a time on a goal, an idea, or a task. I like to marinate my bites before chewing 🙂

  114. I love this idea of RE-resolving. It takes so much of the pressure off and I think it will make me more productive. Thanks!

  115. Thank you what a wonderful post! I especially love
    “What would happen if I made a list of resolutions that fit my schedule, rather than trying to fit my schedule around a list of resolutions?”

  116. Great bite-sized ideas for setting goals and making resolutions! Though I’m not a yearly resolution maker, I take it day by day, noting ‘things I’d like to accomplis some day’ on my ‘to do’ list. So I guess that counts. Thanks, Shannon! I’m looking forward to reading ‘Can U Save The Day?’

  117. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with trying to meet our goals and it’s so difficult to meet them when unexpected things come up that make you feel like a failure. Thank you for your wonderful post, Shannon. I needed to read this!

  118. Thank you for permission to be kind to myself and make those goals gentle and attainable. I have many many chances during the year to work on myself!

  119. You’ve given me permission to reorganize priorities monthly or even weekly and I like that. I think it will be especially helpful in writing. Thank you! Enjoyed reading your post.

  120. Thanks so much for this post! You are so right about being realistic, and setting monthly rather than yearly goals. I especially related to your post as I switch between genres, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  121. Realistic goals, writing in different voices, being accountable – all excellent advice. And of course, being kind to yourself!

  122. Thanks so much for this Shannon! I think I came to a similar revelation this year but it was so lovely to see it broken down and explained. I’m totally backing the idea of having flexibility within our goals. We just don’t know what striving for those goals will look like until we’re in the thick of it, and so being willing to rework our plans as we go is vital to our sanity. I’m pretty sure a print out of your five ways to create short-term goals is going to go up on my studio wall soon. 🙂

  123. I definitely need to try the smaller bites. In my writing, in my home duties and with exercise. Especially with exercise. Thank you for this helpful post!

  124. I love this idea Shannon. Many small goals lead to many small achievements and many small rewards. Then, when you pile them all up together, they are one impressive accomplishment.

  125. I love the comments on setting manageable goals – by a month or quarter. That’s really helped me this year! 🙂 . Thanks!

  126. Great advice, Shannon. My critique group and I made goals this year. Sharing my goals with others makes the going for them more palpable!

  127. I was sick for a good two weeks to start out 2020, so I missed this one until now. And it’s probably better that I read it now, as I just finally got around to writing my picture book to-do list for the year. It’s my big picture (no pressure to complete it all) list that will help me focus my time when I set aside a few hours here and there to work. I’m all about those small goals! Thanks for articulating this so well, Shannon!

  128. I love the idea that bite-sized revelations and being honest about what you can manage! I think that putting pressure on myself to get more done, but expecting an unrealistic amount of work to be done is the biggest mistake I make when setting goals! Thanks for sharing!
    Lexi

  129. This is just pure gold! And exactly what I needed to hear to start the year. I decided – no resolutions this year. Okay, but what instead? And then I read this.
    “What if, instead of biting off a whole year at once, I nibble on just a month at a time? Or even a week? What would happen if I made a list of resolutions that fit my schedule, rather than trying to fit my schedule around a list of resolutions?”
    Thank you so much for this post, Shannon!

  130. To tell you the truth I wasn’t looking for any advice but I did take away a lot of it.
    The elliptical for one and taking things a bit slower for another. My goal is to sell one manuscript this year. And one every year for the rest of my life. Ha! That’s how much you’ve inspired me. I hope to see you on 12×12. Thank you for your interview.

  131. These are such good tips. My one resolution for the year is to stop muttering to myself in the mirror this year. Thanks, Shannon.

  132. What good, practical advice. I’ve given up on New Years’ Resolutions, but I make resolutions occasionally for no specific reason–they don’t go well, either. I decided that there are certain things that take priority, and certain things that when life happens, I’ll say, “So what? I’ll go to yoga next week.”

  133. Shannon— I love this idea! I’m already a list maker, but this is a huge help to just think of it as weekly goals. Thank you! Looking forward to reading your books!

  134. Love the idea of re-prioritizing on monthly basis. But I also took to heart the accountability part and realized I am not good at holding myself accountable for certain goals, like writing. So, I reached out to a couple other writers and formed an accountability pact. I think it is going to work. Thanks for the inspiration.

  135. Very interesting and relatable. ‘The 7 habits of very effective people’ talks about this too. How to take the time to fulfil all our different roles in life, writer, self, mum, wife, worker etc. Ultimately a guide to happiness.

  136. I’m going to go for the bite size goals and a little bite size chocolate. Lol Thanks for sharing this great approach!

  137. I’m going to go for the bite size goals and a little bite size dark chocolate. Lol Thanks for sharing this great approach!

  138. Thanks for sharing this post. It’s definitely nice to hear that others struggle with the same things and I love the suggestions!

  139. Thank you so much for the inspiration. I keep thinking “one day at a time” and “progress is progress” (both with weight loss goals AND writing! lol). Thanks for the strategic encouragement! Happy 2020 to you and yours!

  140. Love this post–I’ve learned I have to adapt my resolutions and goals to meet my needs too. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I pick a word of the year. And I’ve started Bullet Journal and using daily lists and habit trackers to my success!

  141. Thanks, Shannon, for the tips on keeping it manageable in the new year. Too many goals can be overwhelming, so I’m going to try for your bite-size revelations. Baby steps…

  142. I love this, Shannon. Permission to simply survive is good. I too have been hit with LIFE immediately after making big plans (resolutions) for the year. It’s as if the universe says, “Oh, yeah? You think you’re in charge?” I need to step back and make the best of each day. Thank you!

  143. Thanks, Shannon. This year I gave up resolutions as well. I like that support to do so. BUT I have added to my morning routine an early walk after prayer and stretching and before my swim. The pool closed so I began to walk. Now I’m addicted (after 3 weeks of walking) to that early morning fresh air in my lungs.

  144. I have had the same experience with New Year’s resolutions. I love your strategy! Looking forward to implementing some of these suggestions. Thank you!

  145. Thank you for this post! The thing that resonated with me the most was look at your schedule first, and revise your plan. I think it’s easy to get down on ourselves when we are less productive than we want to be. But how great would it be if we were reasonable with our schedule, life and responsibilities!? Thank you for shinning a much needed light on this!

  146. Fantastic post! I banished the words “New Year’s resolution” a decade ago. Instead, I sit down everyday and list three or four attainable tasks in my bullet journal. Seems small, but they add up.

  147. I love the idea of compartmentalizing by topic or type of writing. I know I lose time and mental effort when I am constantly asking my brain to ping-pong across subjects and styles. Thank you for sharing!

  148. I love the idea of compartmentalizing by topic or type of writing. I know I lose time and mental effort when I am constantly asking my brain to ping-pong across subjects and styles. Thank you for sharing!

  149. Thank you, Shannon! You’re so right! Resolutions need those weekly and monthly priorities. I gave it a try last year and it helped me move forward. Your reminder helped me to reinforce and be realistic. Today is Goal’s Monday! It already helped me get here so it’s working! Best in your writing goals.

  150. I too have to reset goals, sometimes weekly or monthly! It does help! So does sticking to one genre at a time. I have a hard time bouncing around those voices as well!

  151. “Schedules change. Life happens. We can let the waves smack us in the face or we can ride them to the shore.” Shannon, this quote reminded me of how important it is for us to allow grace to reign in our hearts. January was one of those months when my priorities had to be shifted as I helped family. We all will have times like that. Thank you for the encouragement to be free to reorganize our list of priorities when needed each month, weekly, or … I say …
    even daily.
    Shannon and all you wonderful picture book writers, have an amazing 2020, embracing the new.

  152. Thank you for this practical, well-timed advice! I love the idea of short term goals and not focusing on failures.

  153. This is a great post, thank you! Now that Feb is starting, I particularly appreciate the idea of monthly resolution-ing. I think it’s a great idea to reevaluate goals at the beginning of the month!

  154. Thank you, Shannon! I could relate to your list including to “survive Christmas!” Years ago, my son wrote me a note in the middle of a hectic Christmas schedule. It said, “Mom, don’t let Christmas make you crazy!” I kept it and put it on my fridge every year! I’m not sure it helps, but I love his sweet reminder.
    I ended January with a new manuscript and a revision. Next month my goal will be to do the same and find a critique group. I think adding a new challenge each month will work for me. Fingers crossed!

  155. Thank you Shannon, for reminding us to give ourselves permission to adjust “resolutions” to our schedules (having life derailed by my son’s surgery in the first week of January made the need for this flexibility painfully clear) the ability to bend, rather than break resolutions, is priceless!

  156. Thank you for sharing your ideas and for your motivation! I like the idea of having shorter term resolutions!

    And, thanks for the laugh. Haha, squirrel with amnesia….

  157. Thanks for sharing your goal-setting tips, Shannon. To accomplishing our goals this year (or at least this week!).

  158. Dang Shannon, you are crushing it! Thanks for sharing super useful wisdom. I read your post a few weeks ago and completely forgot I did until I began reading today. Hopefully it sticks this time because what you say makes sense. I revisited my 2020 resolutions, all 11 of them. For accountability purposes I want to post them here, but since that is not the point, I will focus on your point that most resonated, setting realistic and achievable goals. For me sketch everyday might evolve into write everyday. I will add my last resolution: feel the joy inside. Let’s see what combining the goals will do. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom!

  159. Thanks Shannon for sharing these insights! Cheers to setting realistic goals. I am learning to celebrate progress, however small it is. 🙂

  160. Shannon,

    I love your sentence about how we don’t know what days we will have our capes on and what days we will have our pajamas on. It’s so true! Some days we just cannot stop tripping over our own feet and others we are beyond productive! If only we could predict. But starting with setting goals for the week or the month is a fabulous idea.

    I am beyond grateful for the writing partner I met at the last NESCBWI. We have the same goals. We check in with each other daily. She inspires me to always do more. I hope I do the same for her. Either way, goals and community is where it’s at!

  161. I’m reading this post as a break from working on revisions, and it made me feel more accomplished than I probably have been so far this year. Thanks for the encouragement, tips and insights. And congratulations on all your accomplishments so far.

  162. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Great quote!
    I also love the idea of making a shorter time span for resolutions! This is where my critique group comes in to play too–accountability.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    -Melanie

  163. I was just thinking about my resolutions this morning! I was meant to read this! What good ideas! Thank you!

  164. Thank you for this post. I’m ready to take my writing/art to the next level, and your post provides inspiration for how to do that. One step at a time, and even if those are “baby steps,” I’ll get there eventually. Best of luck with your creative projects, too.

  165. Thank you for your post! I did make goals for this year, but I do take weekly check ins to see if they are still helpful. It’s been a much better way of approaching resolutions! My phrase for the year is “Move forward” and your post is a good reminder for me! Thank you for your post.

  166. Thanks so much for sharing, Shannon! I am a longtime New Year’s resolution gal, and have lived through quite a bit of “resolution suck” myself including this year. I kicked off 2020 with the flu and was feeling overwhelmed at being nearly a month behind out of the gate. I really like the concept of monthly resolutioning and will take a deep breath, recalibrate and give it a whirl now. Thanks again!

  167. I loved the power of goal setting, that’s a smart goal. I learned about them as a teacher, but now I actually apply them as a writer. Thanks for reminding me to keep using them!

  168. Thanks for this post and for offering the giveaway. I like your idea of revisiting plans each month, and how it helps to be realistic about the varying demands of different times of the year. Fine tuning is so useful — so much can change in just a year!

  169. I enjoyed reading your comments and totally agree. With a number of elephants in my room, your comments are both helpful and thought provoking . Good luck with your new book . Thanks, Shelley

  170. What a great pep-talk! This was exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been trying to get back in the groove of writing on a consistent basis, with many small failures this past year. I’m going to try to be nicer to myself this year. Thank you!

  171. Thank you Shannon! Great practical strategies. I am going to print off your five ways for shorter term resolutions and post them above my desk. I especially love number one. 🙂

  172. I printed this post and am keeping it in my calendar so I can remember to take life one small bite at time and to give myself grace for the days that aren’t as productive as others. Thank you!

  173. I cannot wait to read both of your new books! Congratulations! I am a goal setter daily, weekly, monthly…I run another business and it is alot to juggle:)!
    Marianne

    1. Marianne, I understand completely about juggling. I just opened an AirBNB in my home, I’m a parttime school librarian, writer, Grandma and….let the fun continue. I’m a complete list junkie. Mini goals make my life doable. We can do this.

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