Setting my sights on 2013


The year is almost over, and while a lot happened in 2012 I’m happy to let it go and focus on 2013. (Unlike 2010, which I kicked severely on the way out.)

It’s been a few since I last set myself goals (at least publicly), and I while I didn’t achieve them all it was still nice to have something to aim at. So I’m doing it again.

But this time I’m giving myself plenty to aim for. I doubt I’ll achieve them all, but even if I only manage to cross a few off the list I’ll still be happy.

So here, in no particular order, are my goals for 2013… and beyond.


Learn more

The year after I finished my course in creative writing I was miserable. (This was before the whole depression thing.) Eventually I realised it was because I wasn’t at university any more. I wasn’t learning.

The following year I enrolled in a journalism course.

I probably won’t be going back to university any time soon. But I still want to learn, and I have a heap of books, e-books and bookmarked websites that can teach me everything from Photoshop to freelancing.

That being said, I’m still eyeing off the online travel writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre. If it’s anything like their online magazine writing course, it will be fantastic.


Build up my business

I was going to say ‘expand the business’, but I’m quite happy with what I’m doing now at Sharper Copy. I just want to do more of it.

That means adding a heap of content, getting the SEO stuff done right (and I have a heap of learning resources to teach me), and promoting the hell out of it.

It also means lots of networking, marketing and all the other stuff businesses need to do.

The goal for this year is to earn more than I did last year. But the long-term goal is to earn enough that I can not only support myself but also build up my savings and have a little bit left over to have some fun.


Get on top of my finances

I’ll admit it: I haven’t exactly been frugal with my money over the past couple of years, and this year it came back to haunt me. Fortunately things are starting to turn around, and if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll be okay.

But I really need to work on managing my finances, and that’s definitely something else I’ll be learning about this year.

I also want to…


Learn to live with less

Call it what you will–minimising, de-cluttering, de-owning. The aim is to not only stop buying stuff because I think I need it, but to also get rid of the stuff I don’t need any more. I’ve managed to sell quite a bit on eBay this year, and I’ll be selling more next year.

And if it doesn’t sell then I’ll either give it away or just dump it.

(Those of you who follow me on Twitter will probably see a lot of eBay announcements over the next few months.)


Stop collecting and start consuming

Picture of reference library

My reference library

Picture of reading library

My reading library

Here’s what my bookcases look like at the moment.

At one point I was pretty much up-to-date with my reading. I could honestly say I’d read all but a dozen or so books up there.

But now there’s about 40 books I haven’t read–even more if I include the ebooks I’ve downloaded.

I’ve gone from being a consumer to being a collector. (Booko is both my best friend and my worst enemy.)

And it’s not just books. I’m the same with computer programs, games, apps, websites, and just about everything digital. If I see something remotely interesting I’ll download it.

And then it gets lost on my hard drive somewhere and forgotten.

I want to stop collecting stuff (unless it’s absolutely necessary), and start working through the stuff I already have. If it’s useful, it stays. If not it goes (sold/given away/deleted/whatever).

The good thing is another one of my goals is to…


Read more

I’m not sure why I’m not reading as much as I used to. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time online, afraid I’ll miss out on something if I don’t keep up-to-date with Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Or maybe it’s because I no longer take the train to and from work (when I used to get a lot of reading done).

But when I do manage to put the laptop/iPhone down and pick up a book instead, I really enjoy it.

So my goal is to get back into reading big-time, and to start making a dent in those bookshelves.


Travel more

I’ve never really had the urge to travel, probably because I hated flying so much.

But my trip to the UK was an amazing experience, and not just because of who I was with. I loved being in a place that felt completely foreign, and I’d love to do it again soon. (Mind you, I’ll probably stick to countries that speak English, at least for now.)

Mind you, I’d be just as happy to travel interstate, or even to places in Queensland that I’ve never visited before. And who knows? If I get around to doing that travel writing course I might even make some money from it.

It will also give me a chance to…


Meet new people

One of the downsides of working from home is it’s turned me into a bit of a social recluse. Sure, I have Twitter and Facebook friends to keep me company. But it’s not the same as talking to someone over a cup of coffee.

Thanks to Meetup I’m getting to meet people with similar interests, and I want to do more of that. (And Brisbane freelance writers out there who feel like getting together every so often for coffee? Let me know.)

I also want to catch up with some of the people I’ve known on Twitter for years but have never actually met. It’s strange to think a lot of them live in the same city, and yet we’ve never caught up with each other.

Even if I don’t meet up with people, I still want to…


Get out more

I’ve always boasted how being freelancer means my days are pretty flexible. I work whenever I want, from wherever I want. And so if I want to head down to the beach for the morning, and then work from a nearby cafe in the afternoon there’s nothing stopping me.

But lately I haven’t even been getting to Starbucks, let along the Gold Coast. It seems easier to just stay home. But I don’t think it’s doing me much good, and I really want to get out more and feel more connected with the outside world.

I won’t be able to do it all the time. (Sometimes you need familiar surroundings and lots of peace and quiet.) But I need to do it as much as I can.

I also want to…


Walk more

Just as I’ve almost stopped reading, I’ve pretty much stopped walking as well.

Back when I was working in the city I used to walk for 40 minutes every weekday just getting to and from the office. And as much as I grumbled about it (especially in the heat and the rain), I quite enjoyed it.

These days I only seem to go for a walk if I’m really angry/upset about something, which takes all the fun out of it.

I want to get back into doing it regularly. Probably in the evenings to start with, because it’s pretty damn hot during the day. Just me, my iPhone and my music. (Okay, so I may also fire up RunKeeper.)

But rather than just walk the streets near my house I’ll  try to find some nice walking tracks within driving distance and try those. I may even walk alone some of the routes in Words to Walk By.


Get back into feature writing

Feature writing was my favourite unit at university, and I loved the course I did on magazine writing. So why haven’t I done more of it?

Beats me.

Oh, I could give you plenty of excuses–no time, not good enough, markets not buying, etc. But I think I just mentally “wandered off” and started doing other things instead.

But I definitely want to get back into it, and next year seems like a damn good time to start.

And while I’m at it, I also want to…


Re-launch my humour website

At one stage I just wanted to get back into writing my weekly humour column. But now that I’m getting paid to write funny blog posts for Brizzy Rubbish Removals and Home Appliance Rentals, I want to write humour for other people too.

So as well as writing my own stuff I’ll be trying to convince other people to let me write for them as well. I have no idea if it will work or not, but I’m certainly going to give it a try.

As for what’s up there at the moment, I’ll probably take it all down, put the best (okay, least worst) columns in an ebook and try to make a bit of money from it.


Learn to cook

For my birthday I was given a copy of  Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. I also have Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals, Cook with Jamie, and a whole bunch of other non-Jamie cookbooks I’ve inherited over the years.

I think it’s about time I made use of them and learned how to cook.

And let’s face it: there’s no better time for me to learn. I live on my own, so I won’t be poisoning anyone else. And the smoke detectors in this place work like a charm.

Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have more than a handful of dishes in my repertoire.


Ignore what I can’t control

Nothing like saving the hardest one till last, is there?

For a while now I’ve been putting my happiness (sometimes even my fate) in other people’s hands. Relying on someone else’s decision. Reacting to someone else’s opinion.

And it’s got to stop.

This is probably the most ambitious goal of the lot, and one I’ll to have to work really hard at achieving.

But it’s something I need to do if I want to achieve my overall goal for this year…


Be happy

If I only achieve one goal this year, this is the one I want it to be.

It seems like such a simple thing. Unfortunately for me it’s anything but a lot of the time. I’m not saying every day has to be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. But I’d like the dark days to be the exception, and not the rule.


Will I achieve all these goals? Probably not. But as I said, it gives me something to aim for (okay, a lot of things). And even if I only achieve a few, I’ll still be better off than if I hadn’t set myself any.

Happy New Year, everyone.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Bonny January 2, 2013, 9:11 pm

    I am with you with the happy, and appreciate what we have xx

    • Bill Harper January 2, 2013, 10:11 pm

      Thanks, Bon. Glad you could relate. And Happy New Year.

  • Rose Wintergreen January 2, 2013, 9:37 pm

    Wow, that’s quite a list! Sounds more like a long term plan to me than a year plan 🙂 Go easy on yourself. Perhaps you could pick 2 or 3 to focus on each month? Just little bits of each? e.g. Jan – walk most days, research places to pitch stories to, send minimum of two pitches…

    I’ve got a lot going on too, and I find this strategy works for me. I review my focus areas every month or so, try to have 2 main ones that are the top priorities, with only 1 or 2 others going at once around the edges, if and when I have time and energy left.

    • Bill Harper January 2, 2013, 10:16 pm

      I agree with you Rose: way too much for one year. That’s why I’m looking at 2013 and beyond.

      And I like your idea of concentrating on a few at a time and reviewing every month. I’ll have the list on my office wall and on my phone so I can keep referring to them. That way I can be sure that what I’m doing is helping me achieve one or more of them.

  • Roxane P-CH January 7, 2013, 8:16 am

    Especially fond of ignoring things out of your control. We were talking about that just last night. Hope you have a brilliant year!

    • Bill Harper January 7, 2013, 5:17 pm

      Thanks, Roxane. It won’t be easy (I’ve already been tested pretty severely), but it’s something I need to learn how to do.

      And I hope you have a brilliant year too.

  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot May 17, 2013, 10:37 am

    Hi Bill,

    Sorry to read about your struggles with happiness. I’ve been having a few of my own this year (all the sordid details are on Get In the Hot Spot) which is no fun at all. I hope you’re kicking some of these goals.

    I loved meeting you at our Sunny Coast meet ups. I should organise another one – it seems to be just an annual event 🙂

    Keep writing and walking!

    • Bill Harper May 17, 2013, 12:47 pm

      Hi Annabel,

      Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with your happiness as well. It’s not much fun, is it? Just when you think you’re making progress, something comes along that seems to just knock you back to where you started.

      I must write another blog post to see just how I am doing with all those goals I set myself.

      And yes, you should definitely organise another meetup at the Sunshine Coast. I’ll probably try and make a day of it so I have time to stroll along the beach for an hour or two.

      Take care, okay?


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