Did you know that there’s less than a month left in 2020? Let’s talk about how to set creative goals for the new year.

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A clipboard with a piece of paper on it that says 2021 with the text "how to set creative goals for the new year in these unprecedented times"

Yes, I know that when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, the pandemic won’t be over. But did you know that you can still set goals even if the year kind of just sucks?

Obviously, your goals for 2021 probably won’t center on travel and large gatherings. But they really shouldn’t center on those things anyway.

Your girl here learned that the hard way this year.

You can control what you can control, and your goals should always come from that.

So, with all this in mind, I thought it was time to take a look at the goals I set back at the end of 2019, and the goals I’m going to pursue moving forward.

How to Set Creative Goals for the New Year

Setting goals doesn’t have to be something you do just for the New Year. You can always set goals whenever you’re ready to tackle something. Here’s some of my goals from last year.

My Goals From Last Year

Around this time in 2019, I wrote a post about goal setting for writers and how I was going to kick ass in 2020. Here’s the list of goals I set, and how I did on them.

001: Write 10 guest posts. This didn’t happen. It’s been on my to do list for ages, like, since 2017, and I still haven’t tackled it. I feel like it’s so incredibly daunting. Everybody and their brother is happy to set up a blog. Everyone will gladly accept guest posts. But there’s a lot of research involved into domain authority and such, and like, ugh.

Let the record show that I did submit one guest post to a really big deal site, and it was not accepted. So. There’s that. I will continue to pursue this on the back burner. But I’m going to cut the number of posts way down.

002: Create 10 passive income products. Oddly enough, I was able to accomplish this one. I published 3 planners/journals. I published 3 ebooks available here. I created a weekly planning page. I made the Evergreen Author Platform Bundle. I created Art Like a Boss, and most recently, I released 21 Ways to Build Your Creative Business in 2021.

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I still have a few ideas for products kicking around my noggin and I do have a journal in the works, though it’s unlikely that anything else will be released before the new year.

003: Do 5 speaking gigs. Obviously, this one didn’t happen. Every conference was canceled, though I did get one gig in before March. I spoke at an AIGA Hi-5 event. Then, I gave a talk on YouTube within the Create Your Purpose Collective, and spoke to the Yukon Writer’s Society about building an author platform via Zoom.

Obviously, I’d love to speak at more events, but I’ll probably keep this off the official list of goals for a while since there aren’t going to be a lot of options for speaking in the near future, and it’s unclear as to when there will be. Though, I have already booked a virtual speaking gig for February.

004: Enter 5 writing contests. I entered two and have functionally swore them off until the end of time. One of the contests I had no business entering, nor am I the sort of writer who wins stuff like that. But the other one…

Some day when I’m huge and famous, I’ll share that story. Until then, I’ll be humble. Or humble-ish. But if after this pandemic is over and you take me out for a drink, know that I’ll spill the details so freakin’ fast.

005: Get the Paper Man in querying shape. I’m still working through this. I wrote the zero-ish draft in April, and have done a significant amount of editing since then. I’m still working through it, and really re-imagining a lot of what I want it to be. I’m mostly in love with the story still, so that’s a very good sign.

What’s Changed


Honestly, that’s not the only thing that’s changed. Though, that was really the catalyst.

As I continue to work as a writer, it’s important for me to constantly assess what’s working and what isn’t. Usually this just means looking at the things I’m doing and how they make me feel.

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Pay off is important, but it’s not the only factor. So, I try to pick projects and goals that will elevate my platform, or that will help me earn money. And I definitely choose projects that I will enjoy. (This is why the guest posts goal largely sits uncompleted.)

And because of the pandemic, a lot of my goals have really shifted to making money, just because I lost a lot of my freelance work. But even so, I don’t pick things that will make me incredibly miserable.

I’ve also begun the process of leaving a ton of groups that I belonged to. I’ve left all the free groups, but I am slowly leaving paid groups that don’t 100% align with my goals.

I’m not an important part of these groups, but I’m really impacted by my environment and too many notifications kills me. Also, I just don’t like getting bad information, which is honestly just information that doesn’t fit my ends.

In the end, I just want to make sure I’m doing what I need to do, and also what I want to do. And that’s how I’m setting goals these days.

Oh, and if you’re looking for help when it comes to setting goals, check out the HB90 Method course. It’s jam-packed with advice on how to plan your creative year, and break those plans down into quarters.

My Goals for 2021

I have finally comes to terms with the pandemic and I know I can control what I can control. That’s why these are my goals for 2021.

001: Write a lot.

I know this isn’t incredibly specific. But I’m okay with that.

I’ll be doing a lot of stuff under a pen name. (Don’t ask. I won’t tell you. It’s purely a money-making venture.) I also want to self-publish two short story collections under my own name in 2021. One of them is drafted, but needs an editor’s love and care.

I want to finish The Paper Man. I want to go on a lovely retreat and fall back into this story and just write my little heart out. I don’t know if a retreat will be possible. But I’ll hold out hope. And if it’s not possible, well. I’ll make one happen in my home.

I also know that I’ll be doing a lot with Medium. I’m running a Medium challenge in the Creator Coven for all tiers, and I’m not 100% sure what the start day will be, but it’s going down in 2021. My goal is to post every day for 30 days at some point, but otherwise, I’m thinking 30 posts a quarter. This is largely to raise my brand awareness and to earn money.

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002: Up my online content game.

I really just want my Instagram photos to look better and I want my YouTube videos to be cooler.

I know exactly how to achieve this, so please don’t slide into the comments with all your critiques of my work. The first thing on the agenda is to get a new camera, which will be happening shortly. Then, I want to take my time more.

I feel like the issue with Instagram and YouTube is that it’s always in service to the editorial calendar, which is in service to my brand. I don’t necessarily want to change that.

I do want to change the amount of time I take to make things happen.

So, I think videos will come out on a different schedule. I don’t know if it will be regular anymore. But I want to give myself time to learn a new editing software, and to make some stuff that’s really cool. It’s always clear to me when I watch YouTube videos that I’m just waaaaaay under par when it comes to video editing.

I want to change that.

I also want to enjoy taking photos a lot more. I feel like Instagram has potential to be really pretty, or at least a good documentation of my life. But right now, it just feels weird and like nothing I post really matters.

So, I’m going to prioritize content making next year so that I actually make good stuff.

What goals are you setting for 2021?

I’d love to know what you have planned for 2021. What goals will you tackle? Has the pandemic changed how you make goals? How do you choose your projects for the year?

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