The Best Laid Plans

Courtesy of iStock/STILLFX

I love Thanksgiving and the feeling of gratitude it brings. I enjoy time with family and all the flavorful traditional foods that fill the day and my belly. But as soon as the table is cleared and the leftovers are sealed in storage containers, it feels like I am taking my spot at an invisible starting line for a race towards a new year.


There are gifts to be bought and parties to attend. A host of celebrations and gatherings fill the final month of my calendar in a blur of exhaustion that ends with the promise of a new year. And with that new promise comes possibility.


A new year is a clean slate—an opportunity to leave the past behind and begin anew.


I am a planner, so I don’t like to wait till January 1st to map out where I hope the beginning of another 365-day cycle will lead. I like to list my goals and all the in-between steps it will take to reach them in the hopes that the power of planning alone will bring me assurance that I will achieve my goals.


But I know that just taking time to plan doesn’t assure me that anything will happen.


I unexpectedly set out on the journey to publication in the fall of 2012. Becoming a published author was not a goal I put on my list that previous January; rather, it was one that evolved as the economy, my family, and my life shifted.


And in reality, a lot of my January goals tend to shift as the year progresses. It is a shift that occurs gradually as “good” and “bad” events begin to intertwine throughout my year.


Looking back, I am satisfied with this shift. I have even found meaning in this shift. I just often find myself wishing I could shift into the role of published author a little quicker.


It took me over a year to write my first draft and another six months to decide to turn my draft into something more. That something more meant embracing a shift in 2014 from an enjoyable writing pastime to something potentially lucrative, which resulted in a commitment to a writing goal in 2015—a goal to learn more about my craft.


Another writing goal followed in 2016—create interest in my voice and style—and led to this blog.


I felt time expand and compress in 2015 and 2016 and around my goals. In some instances, my goals were altered as I gained clarity from each experience—planned and unplanned—throughout the year. I’m learning about the many ways to write a book to find the one that works best for me. And while blog writing is vastly different from novel writing, I am learning about structure and harnessing my thoughts through the blogging process.


I have my ideas about where my focus will be in 2017—on my manuscript. I have hired a developmental editor and I am planning on cutting my blog post schedule to once a month in order to complete my manuscript and achieve my ultimate goal of publication.


I am aware that a few unexpected shifts may occur along the way, and I am okay with discovering the unforeseen possibility of where they may lead.


As you begin to look forward to 2017, I encourage you to formulate goals … but be sure and leave a little space for the potential an unexpected shift may offer because even a change in the best laid plans can present something surprising and delightfully new.


What are your goals for 2017? Is one a reoccurring goal that you are refining year after year? And what about that shift—are you willing to embrace the possibility it may bring?