Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail or Something Like That

It’s that time of the year again. Christmas has come. I’ve played with (or read) my presents and it’s time to get back to some serious work. The space between Christmas and the New Year is usually when I review my goals from the previous year and set my goals for the coming one. This year, because I am lazy and going to have to do this anyway, I am killing two birds with one stone and writing a blog post about it.

As long term readers will know I believe in planning and measuring things, in setting milestones and trying to pass them. I do this all the way from the macro level to the micro level. I have a Life Plan, which is basically just a list of all the things I want to do before I die, set down in order of importance.

Then, like the Soviets I have a Five Year Plan. I have one year plans, I have monthly plans and weekly plans and daily plans. I use the high level ones to guide me through the lower level ones. The Five Year Plans set the goals for the One Year Plan, the Yearly Plans let me set my monthly goals and so on, all the way down to the daily To Do lists. All of these things are aimed at letting me achieve my Life Plan. I know this probably smacks of over-planning but it works for me.

Anyway, it’s time to review my goals for the last year and see how I did. I had a fair list of goals, personal, financial, social and work-wise. Being a middle-aged Scotsman I am not comfortable discussing many of these in a public forum so we’ll just stick to the ones I am comfortable with. If I failed to achieve a goal, I like to look at the reasons why and see if there is any way I can do better.

On the health front I set myself the goal of losing one kilo a month, for an overall target of 12 kilos. I managed to lose 8 over the course of the year. I have to chalk this down as a failure. How did I blow it? Sloppy self-discipline is the simple answer. I cut myself too much slack, let myself eat too much chocolate and not enough healthy food. I did not exercise as much as I would have liked either.

Workwise, I set myself several related goals. I was going to start releasing my backlist at the rate of one a month on the Kindle and in other ebook formats. It took me some time, a lot of reading and a good deal of procrastinating to get round to doing this but in July I started and the books have more or less rolled off the production line ever since. This has gone pretty much according to plan and I’m glad. It’s been a real blast to see the Terrarch books and The Inquiry Agent out there finding an audience.

In 2011 I was going to start a regular blog. Again this took time. I had to set up web-hosting and learn how WordPress works. It was not hard, I just needed to find the time. Then, as ever it was a case of getting started. I have never been really comfortable with the concept of blogging but it’s one of those things that everybody says a writer needs so I decided to give it a serious try and find out if they were right. Well, I started it and I have managed to post at least once a week since then so that has gone all right. As a side-effect, I set up a Facebook page and went on to Twitter too. I confess Twitter still utterly baffles me, but Facebook has been fun and a useful way of getting and keeping in touch with people.

I set myself the goal of reading one new book a week. Once this would have been absurd. For most of my life I have read a book every couple of days, sometimes a couple of short books a day. Recently though, I have found myself retreating into reading books I have read previously, wilfing on the web and playing online games instead. The Kindle has been an enormous help with this goal. I live in a place where English language books were for a long time hugely over-priced and quite hard to get hold off. Amazon’s little device has changed all that. It has made reasonably priced and interesting new books available wherever I am, in a form factor where I can carry a library with me everywhere I go. I am pretty sure I managed this goal although with not as much new fiction as I would like. I read a lot of non-fiction from Robin Lane Fox’s biography of Alexander the Great to When Money Dies Adam Ferguson’s apocalyptic and terrifying history of the post-World War One German inflation. On the fiction front I enjoyed Adrian Tchaikovski’s Apt series. There was of necessity a lot of technical reading, about WordPress, about Linux and about computing in general. But I digress…

One of my long term life goals is to travel to a new country every year. I singularly failed at this in 2011. I think there was just too much else going on. This will be a hard one next year with the arrival of Number Two Son.

I was going to set out my goals for 2012 but I am close to having written 1000 words here and it strikes me that those might make another post. I confess I often struggle to come up with subjects for blog posts so I think I will save those for next time.


2 Replies to “Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail or Something Like That”

  1. A bit of threadomancy here, but there you go. I’ve never been great at setting goals and breaking those down into discrete tasks, and I just can’t go on in my typical disorganised fashion, jumping from one thing to another as the fancy takes me. So I’ve come back to this post because I’m working on learning some lessons from your methods Bill. 🙂

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