Setting Goals for 2018

setting goals for 2018Last year, I made affirmations, not resolutions; this year, I’m setting goals for 2018.

I’m using a technique I learned last February, when I felt overwhelmed by projects and obligations.

It worked, so I’m trying it again.


setting goals for 2018Take a pad of paper, sticky notes, or a stack of index cards and write one goal per slip of paper. It doesn’t matter how large or small the goal is, and the number of cards you can fill out is limited only by the number of cards you have on hand.

On one slip, I wrote down “Time Passes” the middle section of a novel-in-progress. On another, I wrote down, “Weekly posts for Living in Place”.

I also wrote down the perennial homestead activities, like plant the vegetable garden and order meat birds.

I wrote down the dates of the board meetings I chair for the Brattleboro Community Justice Center and the date I’ll be moderating Town Meeting this year (always the first Tuesday in March).


Once I’d written down all the things I could think of, I sorted them by kind, and came up with seven categories: Writing Projects; Writing Business; Teaching & Public Speaking; Family; Household; Self-Care and Civic Engagement.

These categories mimic those I use in my Planner Pad, part of my Month, Week, Day system of keeping track and accounting for my time.


setting goals 2018Since many of my goals are to work on long-term projects, I’ve learned to prioritize and schedule the steps that will help me meet them.

One of my writing goals for this year is to “Draft Hunting Book” This is a large, on-going project to which I assign a block of time most workdays. How I’ll use that time will become apparent as the work progresses. Some days I’ll write; some days I’ll read or research; some edit. And some days, I’ll set the project aside to meet a deadline for a teaching gig or a public lecture.


In addition to meeting work goals, I’ve also set goals for self-care, which include outdoor exercise, yoga, and piano. On another page, I wrote down “vacation.” We’re planning a trip to Alaska.


I meet deadlines, including ones I set for myself, and I track my progress in my work diary. Of course, I also keep track of my earnings, although I’ve learned that income is only one measure of success.


flexibilityWhen I get stuck (and I will), I can always refer back to my stack of goals and shuffle them as I meet a goal, or as my priorities or circumstances change.

How do you set your goals?


Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, teacher, radio commentator and blogger who spends so much time alone, she thinks yoga is a social activity.

28 thoughts on “Setting Goals for 2018

  1. Hi Deborah,
    Good luck with those goals. I’m going for a ‘less is more’ approach to the coming year. Rather than trying to cram too much in, I’m aiming for achievable goals, and goals that will enhance my emotional and physical well-being (writing a priority as always!). But I’m replying to you really because I’m intrigued by your ‘Draft Hunting book’. Now you’ve piqued my curiosity! I’m an anthropologist and back in my professional life my research was on hunting, particularly big game hunting. Would love to know more (if you feel like sharing at this early stage of the process). Best of luck with it and all your goals,

    • Hi Martina,
      I hope you’ve received my email about the Hunting Book, which I’m not quite ready to go public with, although I’ve done some radio commentaries about it, and a couple of blog posts. You make a comment here that’s really important and that I didn’t properly address in the post: “Less is more.” I meant the section on Prioritizing to cover this, but it’s really important to decide what project is most important. In fact, part of me thinks I should give up blogging as a distraction from the Big Projects I’m working on. But I don’t, because I also recognize that I need the feedback from my blogging community to sustain me between the long stretches between books.
      I took a quick look at your website and hope to return soon. What an interesting life, living on a boat with a husband and two young kids. I so admire anyone who is grounded enough in herself to float around the world. Me? I’m rooted in place – thus the name of my blog: Living in Place.
      All of which goes to show, it takes all kinds.
      Hope to hear from you via email.

  2. Hi Deborah.
    I have tried repeatedly to write down my goals and make them attainable and measurable, like the smart goals people state. I have a real hard time making my writing goals. I have so many things I want to accomplish, that my brain is on overload meltdown. I want to make this year the year I focus on my writing and blogging. I even adopted a motto for this year, “progress not perfection” because I am a perfectionist procrastinator when it comes to blogging and writing. I’m going to try the method you described to see if it will work for me in these two areas of my life. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks for writing. I love your motto, “Progress, not perfection.” I may adopt that myself.
      What would happen if you chose one writing task: either blogging or writing a single project for this year (a collection of poetry, essays, a novel, a play) – whatever it is that matters most to you right now. And keep on coming back to it whenever you lose sight of your goal.
      And let me know how you make out.
      Best wishes for the New Year.

    • On busy days, especially, I’ll “forget” to exercise if I don’t plan it into my day. Then, if I do run out of time, I can fudge the schedule a bit and still get outside for a short walk, and maybe finish a desk-related task in less time. But if you’re not taking care of yourself, you certainly aren’t going to be able to sustain a thick narrative for the long haul. All best.

  3. That sounds so organised Deborah! I admire your efficiency and energy! I visualise a mood board for my goals, offer them out to the universe, prioritise and pace myself and am so thankful for anyday I feel normal enough to function!

    • Yes, “sounds” organized and in fact is organized in that organization ebbs and flows, starts well, disintegrates, reconfigures itself, changes plans, directions, intent, definition, speeds up, slows down, and all the while things get done, life goes on, and eventually – if you keep starting over again and again – projects come to an end.
      And it all starts over again.
      Keep starting over.
      Best wishes.
      And what’s a mood board? How does it work?

      • Yes I recognise that type of organisation! A mood board is a visual board of my hopes and aspirations. I see it in my minds eye and see my goals being reached, like my parking angel…who never lets me down!

    • Glad you found this post helpful. When I tried to check out your blog I received an error message, “Page not found.” You might want to look into that. Best.

  4. Hi Deborah! Thanks for this article! Lord knows I’m one of the world’s BEST procrastinators and world’s WORST organized person.

    I have goals I would like to reach this year as well. I found this article helpful. I will definitely put some of your ideas to work.

    Mostly, my goals are writing (blogging included) goals. I love to write, and dream of being a published children’s author someday. Of course, we both know that for this to happen, I actually need to put my butt in the chair and write. 🙂

    Some goals are business goals. I have started my own business. It is slow, but that is normal with a new business. I think points you made in this article will benefit me a lot.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    Your are welcome to check out my site. I have been gone a while, so forgive me ahead of time. 🙂

    Good luck on reaching your 2018 goals!

    • Hi Cindy, Thanks for your comments. Do you know the Dorothy Parker quote: “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.” No way around it.
      Thanks also for the reblog. Best.

  5. Pingback: 2018 Goals – An Article I found Helpful | A Writing Life for Me

    • This sounds like a great plan. I’d like to know what a vision board is and how you make one/use one. I also have to advocate a little bit for empty spaces. Sometimes, that’s where the best ideas can be found. Thanks for reading and commenting on the post.

      • Here is a link to some interesting ideas regarding creating a vision board. The idea is to create a visual aid to help center your attention toward the things you would like to manifest in your life. And I agree that the best of ideas can be found in the empty spaces of my life….I just don’t want my vision to be empty.

  6. I am new to writing public posts for blogs. I just posted my first “insight” today on Goals vs. Resolutions. I found your entry after I posted, but planned to have “goals” as discussion this week. Of course, not sure how to get seen and receive feedback. I would love to link your post, but not sure how to do that. Please take a minute to check out my blog!

  7. I’ve been using a put-together-notebook I got at the beginning of November and have been in love with it ever since. It allows me to envision the goals I want but also be flexible and compromise when things change. I have a major problem for when I fail to do something I get in the mindset that it’s over and can’t be done. This binder allows me to just pick myself right back up and give it another day, and really consider the challengers around me.
    Hopefully it will last. XD

    • Thanks for sharing your method for setting and keeping goals – and best of all, renewing your commitment to those goals when you get sidetracked. I think we’d all be happier if we simply accepted that getting sidetracked is sometimes part of the process! Kudos to you for figuring out a work-around. Good luck!

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