It’s the second day of the New Year, and if you haven’t made any resolutions, don’t bother. Hi, it’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog.
That’s right. Resolutions were made to be broken, or so James told me while we were out walking this morning. He told me that he made a couple of them. One resolution was to walk an extra 10 minutes with me each morning. We already walk (Well, James walks while I run around having the best time.) for at least half an hour, even in the bitter cold. I have no idea how James even keeps track of how long we’re out there. It’s all fun and games for me, except when it rains, and then we’re only out there until I do my business. (What business is that, you ask? TMI – simply know that I take my time like most males.)
Well, the past two mornings James wasn’t able to keep his resolution, so he told me making them was fruitless. (I like some fruits, like apples, yum!) He advised me to take a look at his desk, and how messy it is. A second resolution he made was to clean up the mess surrounding his work area. (I’ll let you in on a little secret. James’ work area looks better than the rest of his study – believe me. He has a sofa no one can sit on it’s so full of papers and stuff.) He took one look at it, then he looked at me and said, “I give up.” Then he did nothing. Two down.
I asked what his third resolution was since he implied he had made more than two. James looked at me like I had the face of a cat, and said, “Set realistic goals for the year.” When I asked if he had done that yet, he said he was still working on it. And here is where he said he had learned something during the time of BO (Before Ollie). Always begin by stating that all goals are fluid and subject to change. So when I asked what goals had to do with the pond (fluid) and my fur/hair (change), he said you never know how deep a pond is and you never know what color a puppy Sheepdog’s hair will turn. As such, all goals have to be subject to change and revision as the year progresses. Nothing is written in stone.
So I pondered all this before asking James if this meant that goals, like resolutions, were meant to be broken. He didn’t hesitate in saying that goals are different from resolutions in that goals are things you set for yourself to achieve because your heart is in them, while resolutions are things you would like to make happen, but if you don’t stick to them, well, your heart won’t get broken. They both require motivation if you want to stick to them, but the big difference is goals, if set properly, are achievable, while resolutions are nice to have but not necessary. For instance, it would be nice to take a longer walk each morning, but not required. Whereas if it had been a goal, as the warmer weather starts creeping in, we will begin to take longer walks. A goal is something you strive to work towards, like sending out query letters (James says these are letters sent to agents to hopefully get them interested in your writing), which you must do if you are going to take the traditional route of publishing.
I told James it sounded complicated, and he agreed. However, he did say that each goal must be measurable in order to gauge whether or not you have achieved it. He told me measuring them is like how many times he has to say “drop the ball” before I drop it and get a treat (only once if he has the treat ready – I keep telling him that). So, taking the query letter idea from above, James said he would set a goal of sending out one query letter a week during 2016. If he misses a week, he may send two letters the following week so that he has sent at least 52 letters by the end of the year, unless he lands an agent earlier. (Oh, that made me twitch my bobtail and put my head on his arm – I love James.)
And that’s how to take the stress out of setting goals – you can revise and amend as the year merrily rolls along so as not to get upset when things don’t go exactly as you might have wanted. This makes a lot of sense to me. But I’ll have to believe James when it comes to the difference between resolutions and goals, and things like that. Resolutions are made to be broken and goals are made to be updated.
Let me know if you made resolutions you plan on keeping – and what they were. If you want to share a goal or two, I’m all ears. (Well, not like Basset Hounds, but I think you know what I mean.). I always like hearing from you in the comments on my site.
Until next week,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)