Setting Goals, Part I

by Nancy Casey

Even though any day of the year is a suitable day for goal-setting, tradition has it that we mark the change in the calendar year by making resolutions, which is to say, setting goals. Your writing practice can help you with this.

Most of the writing exercises in this blog series can be done in a single sitting. They ask you to think things up on the spur of the moment and write them down. Setting goals, on the other hand, is a process. It takes time and careful thought to identify goals that will be useful and meaningful in your life. You probably can’t do it all in one quick sitting.

The first part of the process involves research. Research into who you are, what you want, and what it’s going to take to get there. Today’s blog will show you how to do that research. Next week we will cover how to write statements of goals that are clear and useful.

In the first part of your research, you must name all your wishes and desires. All of them. Everything. Don’t focus on being “realistic.” Even our supposedly frivolous wishes and desires help us understand who we are and what we truly want. Of course we don’t get to have everything we wish for, but looking at all of our wishes at once helps us know which ones are the most important to us.

Some of the writing exercises posted in this blog over the past year can help you research your wishes and desires. Try to work on this research over the course of several days, because you probably can’t think up everything all at once.

For the second part of your research, you must name all of the challenges that your wishes represent. Anything that stands between you and the fulfillment of your wishes is a challenge that you must meet in order for you wish to come true.

When we decide to meet a challenge, it is always a risk. We might succeed and we might fail. Some challenges are bigger and scarier than others. Understanding the challenges helps us understand what we will have to invest in order for our desires to become real.

Work on this research throughout the week. You will probably find that you want more things that will fit into one life and getting them all will require superhuman challenges. If you keep working with your wishes and challenges over the course of a week, however, you will find yourself returning to the ones that mean the most to you.

Next week, we will consider how to write goals that will allow you to meet the most important challenges and get what you want. Stay tuned!


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work here. If you would like Nancy’s help with a writing project, large or small, email for more information.

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