Home > Thoughtful Thursdays > planning, and choosing, for 2012

planning, and choosing, for 2012

So if you have a few minutes to spare while you’re pitching like crazy this week*, this is generally a good time to take a look back over your hits and misses for 2011 and to outline your action plan for 2012.

(* If you’re not pitching like crazy this week, why not? These quiet weeks around the holidays are prime assignment time — because almost everyone else falls silent while taking some vacation days, and editors are looking to fill their editorial calendars for 2012. So get out there and pitch. I’m just saying.)

I’m not going to use this space — today, anyway — to go into a big long thing about mapping out realistic goals, assigning timelines and breaking it all down into specific action plans. Even though you should be doing that anyway.

Sprint006 plan

No, today I’m thinking about the bigger picture of what kind of writer I want to be, and what 2012 goals and milestones make the most sense toward achieving that end. Granted, we’re still in very tight economic times and writers of all stripes are dealing with even more than usual discomfort and uncertainty when it comes to the future of our profession. Plenty of us are taking work — any work — where we can get it and are keeping our heads down and plowing through without much thought to the larger shape and direction of our careers.

Nothing wrong with that, especially right now. It keeps money coming in, food on the table, a roof over our heads and the broadband connection going strong. But I also don’t want to arrive at the end of 2012, a full year from now, and find myself in pretty much the same situation that I’m in now.

This is why it’s not only okay to dream, but actually mandatory. Having an idea of where you want to be in a year — or in five or ten years — not only gives you something tangible to shoot for (because you’re setting goals and following action plans, right?), but also gives you a framework in which to make decisions in the meantime.

I know plenty of writers who got into this business to begin with because they were simply interested in everything, and writing offers the opportunity to research one topic after another, for pay! You get to learn and talk to people about all sorts of stuff, which definitely keeps dullness at bay. But sometimes, you have to choose.

For instance, there’s a really tempting fellowship opportunity that I could apply for. As soon as I heard about it — eight months of research and reporting on a specific topic — I knew exactly what I’d propose to work on, and knew instinctively that it would be compelling to boot. But… does eight months away, focusing solely (or largely) on this one subject area align with my career goals? Is it important enough that I should put aside what I’m already working on? Does this specific opportunity warrant delaying or even giving up other specific targets that I’ve set for myself?

This is something I’m still sitting with, and it’s an important consideration. There should absolutely be room in your “plan” for the unexpected, but you also don’t want to spend your career flitting from one new track to the next while your bigger goals and dreams sit waiting on the shelf, unrealized. Part of working and living smart comes not only from having the courage to say “yes,” but also in knowing which doors to close or to pass by.

(Creative Commons photo by J’Roo)

Categories: Thoughtful Thursdays
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  1. December 30, 2011 at 9:14 am

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