On Goals (& My 2014 Word)

Happiest of New Years to you, friends! Can I just say how relieved I am to see 2014? I’m incredibly excited about this new year, a clean slate, and a fresh start.

You see, 2013 was not such a great year for me. While I had some wonderful moments with friends and family, when I look back on the last twelve months the overall tone is one of stagnancy. I’m standing in pretty much the same place today as I was this time last year. I’ve not achieved much of anything. I’ve grown very little as a human. It’s depressing, if I think too hard about it.

Lately, I’ve taken a step back and really reflected on the last year, and I’ve come to realize this bleak feeling that I’ve accomplished nothing stems from the “goals” I set at the beginning of 2013.

(Here’s where I get personal and possibly overshare a bit…)

My “goals” for 2013 were to 1) Sell a book, and 2) Get pregnant.

Simple, right? I wrote a fantastic story. I have an awesome agent. I’ve put in YEARS of writing time. And hello… I’ve already had one child. How hard can it possibly be to have another? People get pregnant every day!


First, let’s address the obvious problem with my 2013 goals…


I can’t control publishing or editors or the literary market. And I can’t control chemistry or fertility. I broke big and obviousΒ goal-setting rules, and I set myself up for failure right out of the gate. Of course I’m disheartened now. Of course. But at least I see the flaws of my ways. At least I can make changes now. At least I can look forward to the brightness of the future, to 2014.

My (attainable) goals for this year…

  1. Revise and polish the manuscript I wrote last year.
  2. Get CP/beta/agent feedback on said manuscript.
  3. Face future submissions with a smile and a shrug and a “work harder” attitude.
  4. Be the best CP/beta I can be, and learn from my friends’ writing.
  5. Approach fitness differently; nourish and strengthen my body instead of beating it up.
  6. Cherish time with my family. Be present in the moment.
  7. Worry less; take deep breaths.

And with those goals in mind, I’ve decided on my focus word for 2014…


It’s an idea my husband and I both want to work toward this year. Living stoically basically means that we’ll try not to stress about things we have no power over. We’ll try not to let our emotions control our actions. We’ll live ethically, and with clear heads. Instead of getting upset, we’ll adjust our expectations and try to make the best of things.

Already, we’ve been reminding each other… “This isn’t very stoic of you,” I told my husband the other day when he was irritated about a move-damaged piece of furniture. “You’ve gotta know adversity,” he noted when I grumbled about how impossible it was to move a crazy-heavy armoire up four brick stairs. Sure, the reminders can be a little annoying, but they also make us laugh, and they help us take a step back from whatever situation is threatening to ruffle us.

Nothing like a cross-country move to put stoicism to the test. πŸ™‚

So, that’s me.Β 2014 is going to be a good year.

Tell me… What are your goals for 2014. Do you have a focus word?Β 


58 thoughts on “On Goals (& My 2014 Word)

  1. Elodie says:

    This is a wonderful word for 2014 and I’ll cheer you on for your goals (with the selfish wish to read your manuscript soon).
    And like you I’ll try to worry less and take deep breaths.
    Hugs from Germany!

  2. Rebecca B says:

    That’s a wonderful word for the new year, Katy–and it’s wise to approach the past year and the future by focusing on what a person can control. I hope the new year is full of joy, balance, and success for you!

  3. Jaime Morrow says:

    Great word for 2014, Katy. I might need to borrow it from time to time. πŸ˜‰ This is such an honest post, and I appreciate that, especially since I can relate to your #2 goal for 2013 (and the disappointment that comes with it not happening). Here’s hoping 2014 is a good year for both of us that way and in every other way. Stoicism…I like it.

    • katyupperman says:

      While I don’t wish for anyone to experience fertility challenges, it is somehow comforting to know that we’re not alone, isn’t it? Wishing you lots of happiness and and wonderful things in 2014, Jaime. We can be stoics together. πŸ™‚

  4. Krispy says:

    I think I’ll keep this word in mind for the year. It’s a good bit of wisdom, along with not making goals based on things we can’t control. I’m always forgetting that. I hope 2014 is even better than the last year! πŸ™‚

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks so much, Alice. I’m happy that so many people are getting behind this idea of stoicism. I think it’s going to be a great year for both of us. πŸ™‚

  5. Lola Sharp says:

    *loves Katy and her awesome, stoic attitude* <3333

    I love your goals, your approach, for 2014. πŸ™‚ Healthy, positive, doable. ❀

    And '13 wasn't stagnant, because it propelled you to this new and improved perspective and approach to life. Thus, #winning.

    May 2014 be your very best year yet!

    • katyupperman says:

      “And ’13 wasn’t stagnant, because it propelled you to this new and improved perspective and approach to life. Thus, #winning.” <– I honestly hadn't considered this at all, Lola, but you make a fabulous point. Perhaps I'll start to look at 2013 as a growing-in-hindsight year instead of a stagnant year. Thank you, lovely. ❀

  6. Jessica Silverstein says:

    That’s such an interesting word! I think it’s too often dismissed as a surface trait–not letting your feelings show–but the way you write about it makes me consider it in a whole new light. I especially love the idea of not stressing over things you can’t control. I tend to be good at this once a thing has already happened but terrible at it *before* something has happened–or if I think it might happen–or if I’ve heard something bad happened once to someone doing something like I’m doing! I think I’m going to share your goal #7 this year, for sure.

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, Jess. I am so with you. I worry about EVERYTHING — all the worst possibilities. Like, worry to the point of not being able to sleep. It’s an awful way to live, and it’s so silly when you get right down to it. That’s why I like the idea of stoicism. It’s not about hiding feelings, but more about assessing feelings and deciding how to best react to them. Here’s to a wonderful 2014 for us both. πŸ™‚

  7. Alexa says:

    I love your word Katy and your goals. I hope 2014 is fabulous for you and your family. I loved the photos of your road trip and hope you settle in quickly in Florida.

    I’m sorry 2013 didn’t pan out as you hoped. I can emphasise, especially with no 2. I’ve had a hard time accepting that some things are beyond my control.

    Here’s to a good 2014 πŸ˜€

    • katyupperman says:

      Alexa, I’m so sorry you can relate to personally to my challenges, though it’s comforting to know that we’re not alone. I hope 2014 proves to be a wonderful year for you. Hugs!

  8. cahillwitch says:

    Katy! I love this post. I think you have a fantastic outlook – I love that you and your husband are making each other laugh with those “that wasn’t very stoic” reminders! – and I’m wishing you lots of luck with your attainable goals. I am also hoping to sell a book or two (the first half of the year) and get pregnant (sometime in the second half) – but as you said, I know those things don’t always happen in accordance with our own timeframes, so I’ve tried to create some really measurable goals to work toward, like developing a consistent writing practice and healthy routines that will serve me well regardless. Happy 2014!

    • katyupperman says:

      Consistent writing practice and healthy routines are what I’m hoping to center my year around, Jess. Then, at least I’ll know I’m doing everything in my power to move toward the things I want. Best of luck to you in book sales and baby-making (;-)). Here’s hoping we both have lots to celebrate in the coming year.

      On another note, I’m embarrassingly behind on blog commenting, but I read your post about expectations and goal setting the other day and I thought it was so honest and beautiful and heartfelt. Your books are nothing short of amazing, and they deserve all of the attention and marketing they’ve gotten, and then some. Thank you for writing incredible books (and super swoony kisses!).

      • cahillwitch says:

        Thank you so much – I’m so glad you liked the blog post! And thank you for the kind words about my books too. ❀

  9. Tracey Neithercott (@T_Neithercott) says:

    I just want to wrap you in a bear hug. I’m so sorry you had a crummy 2013, but I think you’re on the right track setting goals you can actually control. Good luck hitting these 2014 goals. And who knowsβ€”maybe you’ll reach those 2013 goals this year with a lot less stress. πŸ™‚

    • katyupperman says:

      I accept your virtual bear hug and return it with one of my own. Here’s hoping we both have lots to cheer about in the coming year, Trace. Thank you a million times for all your support. ❀

  10. Jessica Love (@_JessicaLove) says:

    OMG Katy, I can relate to this so much. I don’t want to blog in your comments (or get all TMI), but I’m going through similar struggles. I know I do have a book coming out, but, well, I’ve shared my fears about that with you before. And it’s not *my* book, and I’m worried that *my* stuff will never sell. I mean, I’m still revising the same ms I was revising at this exact time last year. *sigh*

    And, yeah, fertility issues suck. I’m sorry it’s something you’re struggling with, and I hope things turn around soon. xoxo

    You know I’m always an email away if you ever need to vent. And I love your focus on things you can control. I struggled with my goals this year because I feel like so much of what I want to accomplish hinges on things that are totally out of my hands. I know I just need to go with the flow and see where things take me, but that’s difficult. I like your goals a lot.

    BTW, I owe you a crit BIG TIME, so send over this ms whenever you have it ready and I will (lovingly) tear it up for you. πŸ™‚

    • katyupperman says:

      First, thank you so much for your offer to crit. I absolutely accept and hope to have something for you to shred very soon. You’re the best.

      I’m so thankful to have you just an email away to offer support and laughs and commiseration. Goals are so hard, and this industry is so hard, and I suppose all we can do is our very best. I see amazing things for you this year, Jess — you, PUSH GIRL, and that other fantastic story that you’re in the midst of revising. (On that note, I’m not “done” with a manuscript until I’ve revised it for years, so you’re certainly not alone there!)

  11. Meredith says:

    Ok, so I just wrote a huge response to you and WordPress ate it. :/

    But the gist of it is that I’m so sorry 2013 was such a difficult year for you. SO sorry. But I do think you’re going into this year with the right attitude. There’s so much that’s outside of our control, especially in the publishing industry. It really feels like sometimes the people behind the scenes are just flipping a coin. For real. And I understand your frustrations on the second thing completely. It took me much, much (MUCH) longer to get pregnant with my second than I had originally thought, so you get alllllllll my sympathy there. It sucks. It really, really sucks. No other way to put it.

    I love the concept of living stoically. Like, LOVE it. I’m going to incorporate it into my year as well, and I hope 2014 gives you everything you want and more!

    • katyupperman says:

      Yay for living stoically! When I first started to consider the word, I thought it simply referred to someone who didn’t reveal her emotions. But now I think it’s much more than that, and a very healthy way to live, actually. Maybe you and I should help to hold each other accountable.

      Also, knowing that your second girlie came after much more time than your first is very reassuring. Perhaps that will be the case for me? Regardless, I’m incredibly thankful to have one girl to endlessly spoil. πŸ™‚

  12. Liz Parker says:

    Oh Katy, I’m sorry 2013 was so rough. This makes me want to send you lots of hot chocolate–or whatever you’d rather be drinking in sunny Florida. I don’t feel like there’s anything I can say that hasn’t already been said, but thank you for your honesty and for opening up here. Here’s to hoping 2014 is a better one.

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks so much, Liz. The comments and support and commiseration I’ve gotten today have been amazing and encouraging. I’m glad I shared. In other news, it’s actually been quite cold in FL since we got here, and now you’ve made me crave hot chocolate. πŸ™‚

  13. Nicole McLaughlin says:

    Oh, Katy!!! I’m glad you shared, one obviously I was aware of, and the other…ugh…KEEP TRYING!! (At least the trying is enjoyable, UNLIKE publishing! πŸ™‚ I will be cheering you on in my thoughts! haha

    But here is what I take away from your post and of everything I see you put into the world for that matter- You are so lucky! I know you know, and I know that seems corny, but I always find pleasure when people point out to me what I take for granted. You have a beautiful family and a husband whom you admit you can grow and more importantly laugh with. Everything else is bonus and will come in due time because you work hard and have diligence and passion!

    I think I’ve said this before, but if you ever need fresh CP eyes…SEND!! πŸ™‚
    I think of you and our publishing journey often…this will happen!

  14. Nicole McLaughlin says:

    I just reread my comment, I don’t meant to imply that you take your family for granted…just that sometimes we need a reminder of all the things that are going right when we are feeling sad about whats not. I figured you knew what i meant…but wanted to clarify. πŸ˜‰

    • katyupperman says:

      I totally understood what you meant, Nicole, and THANK YOU for the awesome reminder. Thank goodness for my awesome family; they are who made me smile and laugh in the last year. It’s often easy to focus on what we DON’T have (yet), but you’re right: It’s important to step back and appreciate all of the amazing parts of life. Oh, and thanks for your offer to read… I might just be taking you up on that someday soon. πŸ™‚

  15. Rachelwrites007 says:

    Oh Katy, sending lots of hugs. On all the things. It is so hard to accept things we cannot control and although I am at neither place, I understand the feeling. (And…as someone whose parents had to try for about 7 years before having me as an only child…*fingers crossed on #2*) You just never know.

    I hope the move etc. is settling in okay. We should email sometime – I have been reading a lot of fabulous books and so want to share about them! I am taking a Twitter break as I revise/edit my ms (getting ready to query in the next few months), and so can’t spread book word until I’m done via 140 characters πŸ˜‰

    • katyupperman says:

      Yes, I need some book recs, Rachel! I have Christmas money to spend. πŸ™‚ Best of luck with your revising/editing, and I am thinking a million positive thoughts for you regarding the querying. Best of luck, friend!

  16. Julia says:

    Good luck on the new year’s word! I am looking forward to hear did it work for you. Stoicism isn’t my word of choice to describe the things you said you’d want for next year, but I sure do feel those are absolutely positive things to work towards.
    And hope to read your publishing as well! Have a lovely year!

  17. Kitty says:

    I can relate to this post on so many levels! And I love your word for the year. It took us way longer than we wanted between our two girls, too, and it was so frustrating. And there was my sister with her three daughters perfectly spaced two years apart! But eventually we got there … and so worth the wait! πŸ™‚ Hang in there. Happy New Year!

    • katyupperman says:

      Worth the wait indeed. πŸ™‚ I’m incredibly thankful for my girl, and I’m trying to approach this new year with a “whatever happens, happens” attitude. I hope you have a wonderful year, Kitty!

  18. Sara Biren (@sbiren) says:

    Hello and Happy New Year! Now that you’re getting settled in your new time zone, now that you’ve created your goals for the year, things will start falling into place for you, I can feel it. I’m glad to see 2013 fall away – and am looking forward to a successful 2014. Sending lots of warm wishes from brutally cold Minnesota. ❀

    • katyupperman says:

      Thank you for the kind and positive words, Sara! I’m sorry it’s so cold in Michigan. I can’t even imagine, to be honest. Hope you’ve got lots of hot cocoa and great books on hand to get you through the winter. Happy New Year!

  19. Jennie says:

    I’m late to this party, but I just wanted to tell you I read this when you posted it and I’m sending you hugs. I hope 2014, and your new goals, set the stage for an amazing year! πŸ™‚

  20. Ghenet Myrthil says:

    I’m so sorry that your 2013 dreams didn’t come to fruition but I’m crossing my fingers for you in 2014! I can’t even imagine how tough it must be to experience fertility issues (my husband and I are thinking about starting a family soon and it’s something I worry about happening as well).

    I love the word you picked and the fact that you and your husband are embracing it together. All of the goals you listed are great. If you need another beta, let me know! I’d love to read your manuscript. πŸ™‚

    • katyupperman says:

      Well, as far as fertility goes, DON’T WORRY. People keep telling me to quit stressing because apparently stress is a hindrance to the whole process. So, just take it for what it is, Ghenet. Because that’s so easy. πŸ™‚

      Thank you so much for your offer to beta… I might just have to take you up on that. I’d love to get your feedback once I finish revising. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  21. Brielle says:

    What an inspirational post! πŸ™‚ This has really got me thinking on how to set realistic goals. Hope your 2014 goes better! Be stoic haha

  22. Cathy Leaver says:

    My word is balance! My husband and I are also working on this word together this year!!! I will have my 10 year anniversary teaching elementary school in less than a month! By June, a piece of paper and three years of hard work will tell me I can be a principal…! We’re both embarking on new careers (firefighting for him) raising three boys together, and restarting our life as a new family! I love watching your adventures, especially your most recent to Florida! I admire you and Matt so much!! ❀️

    • katyupperman says:

      Cathy! I love that you commented here! Thanks for visiting. πŸ™‚ Congrats on your ten years of teaching (amazing!) and early congrats on earning your principal credentials. I’m super impressed! Best of luck to you and your hubby in your new ventures this year. Here’s hoping you both find lots of balance and have a fantastic year. ❀

  23. Miranda Liasson says:

    Katy, I want to tell you I came back to read your goal-setting blog post because I was so inspired by your blog post from last year. So inspired I kept my own monthly writing goals in front of me on my desk all this past year and it helped so much! But you are way too hard on yourself! You have accomplished so much, as a young busy mom, plus arranged a cross country move! Like you said, as hard as we try, so many factors are out of our control. So we just keep on doing the best we can and leaving it in God’s hands. I remind myself of that every time I sit in front of my WIP. Thanks for the motivation to continue goal setting and I pray for you and your family to have a wonderful and prosperous 2014!

    • katyupperman says:

      Thank you so much, Miranda! Your comment totally made my day. Thank you for your thoughts and your kind words. And yes, perhaps I have been a little too hard on myself. 2014 is going to be a gentler, more appreciative year for me. So far, so good. πŸ™‚ I hope you have a wonderful New Year as well. Best of luck with all of your goals!

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