I remember one year when I was in middle school, I decided I would make a bunch of resolutions and become an amazing person. I filled several sheets of paper with resolution after resolution – and I can’t remember them now, so clearly the list was drowned in relatively unimportant goals. I ended up with 150 resolutions. I was pretty proud of myself.

Sometime later, I found the massive list in the bottom of one of my dresser drawers. I flipped through the list, wondering why I thought it was a good idea to make so many resolutions, since I hadn’t checked off a single one. I trashed the list, and for a long time afterwards didn’t bother with New Year’s Resolutions.

Until now. 2017, you are the year! I’ve come to realize that the reason I haven’t achieved many of my goals is because I’ve failed to plan how I will achieve them. There are three steps to reaching a goal, and I’ve only really done well at the first:

The Three Steps to Reaching Goals

1. Set the goal

Don’t be overly ambitious, but don’t underestimate yourself either. Start with what you think you could realistically accomplish, then push the bar just a little higher. There is your goal. And if you don’t  feel like it’s enough of a challenge, you can always set a higher goal once you reach your first one. On the other hand, if you set your goal too high, you may become discouraged by what feels like a lack of progress.

2. Schedule your goal

How much time do you have on a daily or weekly basis to dedicate towards your goal? What will you do with that time that will help you reach your goal? When specifically will that time be? If you miss that time, will you be able to make it up on a different day? Goals don’t reach themselves; you have to figure out in concrete terms what you will be doing.

3. Start your goal

You’ve got your goal and you’ve set aside time in your schedule; now follow through with your plans. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work out so well on the first or second sessions; you’re still getting used to having a new item in your routine. You can do it!

Just a few books I’ve been meaning to read…

One of my goals for 2017 is to read more books, especially literature and history. Here is what the three steps would look like applied to that goal:

1. Set: I’m going to read at least 24 books this year

That’s two books a month, on average; some of the books on my list will take more than two weeks, while others will take less. With a few exceptions, most of these books fall in the “I own but haven’t yet read” category. Some of the goodies on the list include: Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Northanger Abbey, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and The Call of Cthulhu. (Keep an eye out for book reviews!)

2. Schedule: I will read instead of gaming

2016 was the year I got a computer that could run Skyrim, among other games. I think gaming is fun and all, and it wasn’t like I had much to do while looking for a summer job, but looking back I wish I had diversified my free time activities. So to accomplish my goal, I’m going to read instead of play video games to unwind in the evenings before bed.

3. Start: I’m picking my book back up after I finish writing this post

Today I have been making significant progress on Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. I might get to finish it tonight! After that I’ll use what I’ve learned to continue my other writing projects.

Setting and achieving goals is not too complicated, as you can see. I’m already plowing through some other books that had previously been abandoned, and so far I don’t think I’ve spent any time gaming by myself.

I hope this helps! What are some of your goals for 2017, and how are you going to achieve them?