Five years ago I wrote a blog post that garnered quite a bit of attention. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. I skipped 2013, but got back on track in 2014 and have stuck with the tradition. Now it’s time to reveal successes from 2016, and I’ve asked participants in my 12 Days of Christmas for Writers program to do the same.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation… Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done

It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Because I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself, I’ve invited 12 Days of Christmas for Writers participants to post their successes on their blogs and websites too. Feel free to share links to your posts in the comments here!

Now, I’m going to be honest and say 2016 was NOT my best year on any front — professionally, personally, etc. I did NOT want to sit down to write this list. On the one hand, I want 2016 to be gone and on the other, I am afraid for the unknowns of 2017. Sitting down to reflect upon this year seemed like a final torture.

But guess what?

When times are tough, when you start feeling as if your dreams are outside of your grasp, it becomes MORE IMPORTANT to reflect on your accomplishments and give yourself credit for all that you DID achieve. When I put my list together, I was surprised because I accomplished far more than I thought I did. I had a FEELING that 2016 was full of failure, but the truth tells another story.

Here is my list of my major professional accomplishments for 2016.

  1. I wrote six new picture book drafts this year. Honestly, I thought the number was much lower and found myself quite pleasantly surprised when I did the tally.
  2. I did countless revisions on multiple manuscripts. I did complete re-writes of two stories based on editorial feedback from publishers.
  3. Two of my manuscripts went to acquisitions at major publishing houses. Although they were ultimately rejected, they garnered positive feedback from the editors along with requests to see more work in the future.
  4. I set a goal of completing four manuscripts to submission-ready during the month of October. I fell a little short, but got two completed and two others into solid draft form.
  5. One of my completed manuscripts from October is now on submission.
  6. I hosted a showcase at the SCBWI booth at the Bologna Book Fair. During the showcase, a major U.S. publisher expressed interest in rights to MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. I never expected another publisher to bring it back into print. We shall see what happens, but that was validation I needed at the time.
  7. Speaking of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN, the Korean version was released this year.
  8. With the help of Julie Gribble and my friends at KidlitTV, I hosted a 5-year anniversary party for the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing challenge in New York. I was touched by the number of people who came, and it felt wonderful to celebrate all that EVERYONE in the challenge has achieved in the past 5 years.
  9. Speaking of KidlitTV, I was honored to record an episode of Storymakers with My Love for You is the Sun illustrator Susan Eaddy.
  10. I once again shepherded the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge participants through a year of writing, revising, submitting, and SUPPORTING. With 800+ members in 2016, I take pride in the fact that the community becomes MORE of a family each year despite its growth.
  11. Once again, hosted 12 fantastic and inspirational webinars during the 12 x 12 challenge.
  12. Launched my Teachable website to offer the webinars for purchase to non-members
  13. With my partners Emma Walton Hamilton, Katie Davis, Jon Bard, and Laura Backes, hosted the second annual Picture Book Summit online conference to the same success we had in 2015.
  14. Due to the generosity of 12 x 12 members, we were able to increase our number of available scholarships in 2017 from four to six.
  15. I had the pleasure of teaching at the first annual Writers Who Run Retreat.
  16. Formed a new online critique group
  17. With the help of a fantastic bookkeeper, I have kept my finances in fairly decent order this year.
  18. I opened a new retirement account.

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list! Share in the comments if you’d like! 🙂

Categories: Goals, My Love For You Is The Sun, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Writing



  1. Congratulations Julie!! This is a great list. You really accomplished a lot. Wishing you all the best in 2017. That would be awesome to have your SUN back in print. It is so lovely.

  2. Wonderful post. It is sometimes difficult celebrating successes. I’m not sure if its a fear of “jinxing” them or being overly modest. I really like the idea of trying to build on successes from 2016. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for all this! I am amazed and inspired. I posted my list on my blog.

  4. You should be very proud of all these accomplishments! Congrats!

  5. I remember that first new year’s post of yours! And so many others… This feels like a revolutionary year coming on. I reached a good share of my year’s goals, and I’m looking forward to doing more this year. The key for me was to stop being so hard on myself. I want to encourage everyone to celebrate whatever you did, and to not beat yourself up for what you didn’t do. And for goodness sake, don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up! Happy new year…

  6. I agree with Deb Lund…2017 is going to be a revolutionary year of great happenings for all of us in this fabulous kidlit community. And one of the reasons for that is YOUR efforts on our behalf, Julie! Picture Book Summit, 12×12, oh my goodness…your leadership and inspiration are at the root of so many of our successes in 2016. And you wrote! And your finances are in order! And you opened a new retirement account! Woo-hoo!

    I’m thrilled with my accomplishments in 2016…attended my first real SCBWI conference in Chicago, successfully navigated a bilateral mastectomy, applauded the cover reveal for SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, held a remarkably well-received #50PreciousWords Contest that had 128 entries, and helped dozens of critique buddies with their manuscripts.

    Excited to participate in your 12 Days of Christmas which I almost missed, Julie…thanks to Ingrid Boydston, I saw a post about it. Guess one of my anit-resolution resolutions will be to clean up my email inbox. 😉

  7. Terrific accomplishments, Julie. And the 5th anniversary party, in New York, was amazing and so much fun! So glad I took a risk and attended the NY Conference and came a day early so I could join the 12×12 party. Sounds like 2016 was a pretty great year for you! Here’s to a terrific 2017.

  8. Wow, Julie! Very impressive!

  9. Well done. Looking forward to the New Year and what it brings, what I bring to it, and what grows as a result.😸

  10. Enjoyed your post. I don’t do resolutions, but I usually choose one or two virtues I want to work on daily during the year. This past year my focus has been on remembering a joy in my life (personal) and acknowledging the beauty/greatness in others instead of saying something negative. Will continue in 2017.

  11. I really love your idea of starting from a place of strength and celebrating what I did right in 2016. Wow! I actually accomplished so much more than I realized! The exercise of writing down my successes forced me to look at the good, which is not my usual instinct. Thank you so much for this gem of a writing assignment. It’s one of the best I have ever encountered.

  12. Julie, congratulations on so many accomplishments during what you thought was a tough year & especially for all you do to help so many other writers via 12×12, Picture Book Summit & more. 2016 has been a tough year for me, too, but your post has inspired me to think about what I did accomplish & tally & post those in the next few days. To our continued success in 2017 & beyond. Happy New Year!

  13. Julie, the 12×12 PB Club has motivated me to write 5 new draft and do revisions. A lot of work remains since all need still more revision.

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