December in January: Goal-setting around the web

painting of someone's home computer network

Just before the end of the past year, I decided to forgo my usual habit of cramming my annual planning into the most riotously busy time of the year. Hence, “December in January,” where I spend the first month of the chronological new year planning my own, to begin in February.

I'm deeply enmeshed in unpacking Dan Owen's staggeringly thought-provoking comment of a few days ago; more on that soon, possibly as soon as Monday. But for now, while the rest of the Internet has moved on and is attacking 2010 with glorious gusto, I thought it might be nice to share some of the best posts, ideas and resources I've collected for woodwork-squeaks-and-out-come-us-freaks types who said "Hell!" to all that, and are enjoying December in January. Or hey, if you're like that, you can always bookmark it for consumption later this year!

One-Word Annual Theme stuff

Christine Kane, whom I saw perform at SOBCon 2008 (and whom I can personally vouch for being the real deal), has been doing one-word themes for years now. So she's really well qualified to help other people with the process, and has done so most generously via a terrific downloadable PDF that walks you through a possible process for DIY-ing it. She suggests that you may want to get some help in the form of collaborators or support, and I heartily endorse that, too. But if you're a stubborn cuss, you can go it alone.

Jared Goralnick has been a friend for a couple of years now (we met at SOBCon 2008, as well, come to think of it, that really was a bang-up event!). While he's roughly 20 years my junior, he is waaay far ahead of me at setting and keeping and tracking goals, and he's got a post from 1999, before I was ON the damn web!, to prove it. Here is Jared's post on his theme for 2010; you can access previous years through it. Even better (to my mind) is his thoughtful review of 2009, which gives a peek into the "why" of the 2010 word.

I didn't know about Ali Edwards until I stumbled across her this year, but she's another old hand at this one-word thing. Her post on 2010's word is here; she did an interesting series of posts on how she compiles a book for each year, the last of which has lots of pictures of the finished project. I'm not a big mind-mapper or scrapper, but I do enjoy reading about other people's more tactile/visual processes, and think there's always value in discovering new methodologies, even if I don't implement them. (I need to break myself of this habit though, as regards recipe-clipping. Ugh.)

It's a little more than one word, two more, to be exact, but I always love reading about Chris Brogan's theme words for the year. He's another guy I've watched skyrocket to success over the few years I've known him, and I've known him well enough to know the methodicalness behind his mad success. In other words, it's a 1,000 little steps you don't see for every one you do. Here's Chris's post for 2010; it includes great info about how to go about the process of determination yourself, and provides links to his previous years.

Alt-goal-setting stuff

I discovered and met artist-teacher Lisa Sonora Beam in the space of several weeks late last year. It was one of those off-to-the-races relationships, facilitated by Lisa's maintaining a brief residency just over the pass. Lisa does a lot of very strategic work with collage and definitely speaks in fluent "artist." She's writing a terrific 4-part series on how to plan your year AND make your own cool planner, which should be right up your alley if you're a visual-artistic type. (Read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4) If you're a creative business owner, you might also be interested in her book, The Creative Entrepreneur, which is the most unorthodox methodology for coming up with a business plan I've ever seen. (Which is a good thing!)

I found Lisa Sonora Beam's posts via an excellent year-end round-up by Alexia Petrakos. In it are resources from my other friends Pam Slim & Charlie Gilkey, Chris Brogan and Chris Guillebeau which I would have linked to separately, but Alexia thoughtfully did my curation for me. Yay, Alexia! Also, she stuck my 2009 "100 Things" posts there. Again, yay, Alexia!

Miscellaneous goal-type stuff

Julien Smith has been such a big influence on my reading list since I discovered him; his repeated, deliberate attempts to read a book a week are truly inspirational. So I confess, when I saw this helpful post about how he actually managed to read a book a week in 2009 (after years of trying), I jumped ahead and committed to it (reserving the right to dump it in February if it doesn't align with my final goals). So far, I'm on track, and love it. Simple but effective methodology, and actually reading these books regularly and intentionally is already having a positive effect.

I skip most "Best of" lists, as they're kind of junk-food posts, for the most part. But Rex Sorgatz's outstanding 30 best blogs of 2009 post is thoughtfully curated and very instructional for those of us who have a blog figuring greatly into our goals. In short? I would very much like to make a year-end list of such quality at some point, so it's worth it to me to pay attention to what makes the cut with the kind of reader who would write something this wise.

What else?

I've written other posts about goal-setting that link to other resources about goal-setting in that recursive way things tend to go on the Internet. The December and January columns I write for Casting Network's monthly newsletter tend to dig into reviewing and planning; there are also strategic resources for unsticking yourself throughout (actors being a necessarily self-involved lot, they tend to need a lot of regular jarring and unsticking).


Here are two posts I found from publisher Michael Hyatt: one on the looking-backwards process (a great, much SHORTER, possibly more fun version than Jinny Ditzler's for the impatient); one on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (i.e., Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound) to make sure they have the best chance of sticking. (via Rachelle Gardner)

I'd love to know of any resources I missed, and I'm sure other people would, as well. What are your favorites? All-time and of late? Please share them with fellow travelers in the comments!


Image by karin dalziel via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.