As I've written about and talked about now and then, I was having a rotten school year. The kind where you either change course or drink a lot or maybe both. (just to clarify, I was teaching English!) But I don't think that was it entirely. I think I just knew that there was change possible and the moment was here and I had to embrace it now or lose it and so I typed my list.
Not to get too precious about all this, but I do believe what Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in BIG MAGIC (a book I think all creatives should at least skim. Personally I've read it twice.): Ideas come to us and if we don't grab them and do the right thing with them, they slip away and go to someone else. The trick is to be aware enough to know yes, this is the moment. And pull it to you and get to work.
That book I was furiously finishing ended up being Dreaming Anastasia. It did indeed get me an agent and everything (good, bad, and in the middle) that has happened since then.
And I have kept on making my goal lists, expanding to include an accounting of the year just finishing-- actually typing out the things that happened, a brief accounting of books and life and travel and family and world events. I have never met every single goal. But I've always met at least one and usually more than that. In years like the past two where life has felt a bit more upside down, and writing has been painfully slow for a variety of reasons and I have felt invisible far too many days, it helps to be able to both write it down at the end of the year and to read it over now and then during the months to come.
Keeping track in this way makes me accountable. Aware that this is how it goes-- a hilly journey that doesn't always end up where you think you're headed, but if you don't check that internal GPS first and plot a course, you'll just stay where you are.
Was that a good metaphor? I think it probably wasn't, since sometimes we wander without purpose and end up somewhere anyway, but I hope you see my point. Success doesn't happen for most of us 'just because.' We have to pursue it doggedly. And also celebrate the road there.
And so. I keep track.