NEW YEAR’S DAY IS BEACH DAY! I’m not sure when I started this tradition, but for years now when Jan 1 rolls around, I don comfortable layers and good walking shoes, load up a small backpack with essential supplies, then tuck myself into my car and drive to the nearest ocean. I’ve been fortunate to live within 5 to 30 minutes of the Pacific for years now. First, it was Laguna Beach in Southern California, this year I think I’ll try Beverly Beach here in Oregon, a five minute drive from here.

Not too many crowds to fight on New Year’s Day, so I often have the whole stretch of sand to myself. Once I find a comfortable spot, I settle in to think…and feel…to wait for whatever the natural world has to teach me. Sounds a little woo woo, I know, but I think I’m a hippie born a half-a-generation too late.

Once I’m feeling peaceful, I pull out the goals I wrote last year and see how I did. Write Logan Book 7? Check! Lose ten pounds? Check! (then gain half of them right back…ha) Learn to grow greens year ’round? 50% success rate on that one. Make a GoBag? Check!

Just making a list of goals doesn’t work for me, but I did find a goal setting and time management ‘system’ of sorts that does. I’ve used it now for over twenty years and still find it useful. It’s based on the Steven Covey concept that you will make more progress by spending your time on important and non-urgent activities (Quadrant 2) than by running around putting out fires (Quadrant 1), wasting time on unimportant things, or constantly being distracted and interrupted.

Take a look at the graphic below and make a blank one for yourself. Without judgement, for a week or so, track where you’re spending your time. It’s an enlightening exercise. It will quickly become apparent that if you spend more time in Quadrant 2, you will focus on what’s really important to you and won’t need to put out fires all the time. An ounce of prevention…

To take control of my year, I do an abbreviated version of his Roles and Goals activity. My roles include Writer, Business Manager, Wife, Family Member, Neighbor & Friend, Household $ Manager, etc.  If you have more than 7 roles, you may need to streamline your life a little!

I write where I want to be at the end of the year in each of those Roles. Using that as my guideline, I do a super quick Roles and Goals session with my calendar each week or month. For example, if I want to write Logan Book 8 plus a short story and five poems, I ask myself what i need to do this month or week in order to make that happen. I back plan. Yes, I am something of a nerd and love to do this! There’s something very satisfying about checking off tangible goals reached. If my goal is to have a stronger relationship with a distant relative, I schedule phone calls or visits or Family Facetimes. If I want to go on a 20-mile hike, I need to schedule training each week to increase my fitness or for me, either get that knee surgery or shorten my hike goal to 10 miles. Measurable and doable. That’s my motto.

On average, I usually achieve about 80-90% of my goals each year. I set the bar within reach and allow for interruptions and delays and setbacks. Sometimes I move a goal over to the next year if there is a major crisis like an illness or death in the family.

People always ask me how I managed to write books while I was working full time and keep writing them with a busy family schedule and a few minor health challenges, now. This has been my secret weapon!

If you have a big goal you’d like to achieve, I guarantee you this system will help you achieve it. If there’s one thing these past two years of Covid and all the other disasters have taught us, it’s that instead of just dreaming that Someday you’ll learn to play the violin, start taking lessons today! Share your progress and I will post!