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In a recent blog post, Patrick Ross mentioned his enthusiasm for setting goals rather than making New Years Resolutions, which none of us seem to keep. He started with a vision statement – what he enjoys doing and where he’d like to be in five years, which Ross soon realized would take ten.

Note: Ross referred to the success of the Soviet Union’s Five Year Plans, an unfortunate model because they all failed miserably. Goals were not met, and many people suffered and died. Governments, or should I say politicians, Five-Year Plans can be like weight-loss scammers: they peddle success stories, take your money, disappear when it’s accountability time, and start all over again. (See this article in the January/December issue of Atlantic Monthly.)

Back to vision statement and goals, in July 2010, I knew I liked to learn and teach, so I set the following goals for my sabbatical:

1. Build a mountain house for eventual relocation
2. Write a book
3. Find a new position
 

messy_deskBy the end of June 2011, we received our certificate of occupancy – relocation would happen in late 2012. No new position yet, but I had a first draft of a book – or so I thought. I took marketing classes during the summer of 2011 and discovered I didn’t know what my book was about – not uncommon for writers, but disconcerting to me. So I took writing classes thereafter and discovered I had much to learn about creative nonfiction – my messy desk yet attests.

There’s a story that Bill Roorbach tells in his essay On Apprenticeship. One evening at a cocktail party, he met a surgeon who, upon discovering Roorbach’s profession, said she would like to take six months off and write a book. Roorbach replied that he’d like to take six months off and become a surgeon.

“You can’t become a doctor in six months time,” she said. Or a writer in a year or maybe even five years, I discovered.

So 3½ years later, here are my revised goals:

1. Continue the relocation process: physical, intellectual, spiritual, social
2. Publish an essay and find a book publisher – essay and book in third draft mailed to my editor this week
3. Discover God’s Vision for me at this time in my life – 
 

And the last goal shall come first.

What are your goals for 2014?

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