Every year, on January first I see my social media feed fill with people saying they’re going to give something up. I’m going to ask you to stop giving things up this year and start doing things instead. And I’m gonna give you some advice on how to succeed!
If you really need to stop doing something, because of your health, because you’re an a-hole, because you want to save the world, then you don’t really need to wait until January to sort it out. Just do it! Do it right now, no matter what day of the year it is. Eat more salads, find a sport you actually enjoy, help some people who need it, do something kind, start recycling, whatever. Stop making excuses.
It starts here. Set yourself goals, not restrictions. Things you want to achieve before the end of the year. I prefer to set between two and four.
For 2017 mine were:
1. Finish and release our indie game Idioctopus [and sell 500 copies].
2. Take part in the Muza5k (a pizza marathon) [and get into the news with a joke name].
Later on, I’ll tell how I did. But, wait a second! Before you set your own goals, there are some important rules to follow:
Make sure it’s something you actually want to do
This is the most important step. Don’t decide to go on holiday to Iraq if you prefer to have the same beach holiday in Ibiza every year. You’re not gonna have any fun, and you’ll do everything you can to self-sabotage it.
Maybe just say “Go somewhere that’s not the same resort in Ibiza this year”, you can even still go to Ibiza, just try and go somewhere else as well!
Don’t set yourself up to fail
You can’t just say, “I want to go to space”. I mean, I reeeally want to go to outer space, but I know that it’s not realistic to do it in the next 12 months. There are too many obstacles in my way. Be realistic. You’re unlikely to become an expert in something in one year if you haven’t done it before. So build micro-goals that aim towards it.
Maybe you want to be a Hollywood movie star. Your first goal could be “Act in a short film”. Manageable steps on a ladder towards an enormous long-term goal are the most satisfying.
Set a subgoal
This is kinda like a stretch goal on Kickstarter. An extension to your main goal, but not essential to success. A nice to have that makes it all the sweeter when you get it. But remember, it should still be realistic.
“Be able to read a menu in Spanish” becomes “Be able to read a menu [and order my food in Spanish]”. Notice this doesn’t become being fluent in Spanish, it’s a flourish, not a transformation.
Don’t let yourself down
Don’t make excuses. Only you can make these dreams come true and you’ve got 12 months to do it. Start the wheels in motion right away. Work hard to turn those dreams into reality every chance you get. Although the goals should be simple, they should require some effort on your part. Seriously, eating 8 slices of Argentinian pizza wasn’t as easy as it sounds. If your goal doesn’t require any work, you won’t feel the satisfaction when you get it.
I don’t mean big-headed boasting. Well, you can do that if you like. But you could just let someone close to you know what you’re going to attempt. There’s something about saying it out loud to another human being that makes it feel real and forces you to try harder.
Be prepared for failure
Sometimes things are against you. One year my goal was to go to visit Chernobyl. This was 15 years ago when the first photos started to appear from the exclusion zone. It just wasn’t meant to be. I was let down by multiple guides, they were let down by greedy officials and a bureaucratic clamp down, and I got short of funds. Some things are just out of your control. The important thing is that I tried to make it real. If you miss one of your goals, take a look at it and decide: Do I want to carry this through to the next year? Do I need to wait until I know it’s more feasible? Do I need to adjust the goal to a smaller step? Or do I need to scrap it? Use it as a lesson and move on. Don’t beat yourself up, shit happens.
Don’t stop at these goals
Remember, you’ll probably achieve a whole bunch of other stuff that you didn’t even plan to do. In 2017, I got married in a castle and visited 3 new countries as well as countless other things that weren’t on my list. Clock them up and remember you’re always getting wins regardless of the things that go wrong.
So, how did I do?
The Results are in for my 2017 goals:
1. Finish and release our indie game Idioctopus [and sell 500 copies at full price].
Win! (and this is just on iOS).
2. Take part in the Muza5k (a pizza marathon)
[and get into the news with a joke name].
Some of it was hard work, and I’m not going to lie, some of it was pure luck. But it was fun!
What are you going to do this year?
These are my goals for 2018:
1. Draw a comic [and release it for free on Comixology].
2. Start making a dumb cartoon [and upload more than one episode to YouTube].
3. Take our next indie game Slam Dunk Party to a gaming convention [and get the attention of a publisher].
Let me know what your goals are and have fun making them come true. Happy New Year!