What gets in the way of your success as a writer? Your thoughts or actions? Procrastination? Perfectionism? Negative self-talk? Disorganization? Time mismanagement? Unrealistic expectations? Lack of goals? Perhaps all of the above, but fortunately, usually not all at the same time. So, what’s the cure? A plan which includes goals, a business plan, and daily strategies to accomplish the goals.
Without goals, you have no direction, no measure for success, and no business plan. Have you set goals for yourself and your writing? A goal is a statement/declaration of an intentional result or outcome that describes where you want to end up—your ultimate objective.
What do you need to do first to set goals?
- Relax—goals require change. Give yourself control over the process of change in your life.
- Imagine—think about the changes you desire. What are your dreams?
- Concentrate—bring as much attention and energy as you can to focus on the process of goal-setting. We don’t plan to fail; we fail to plan.
Goals must be specific, achievable, realistic, measurable, and timely. You must also have some control over the outcome. You could have a goal to win a million dollars in the lottery. That’s specific, somewhat achievable, measurable, and timely. Unfortunately, it isn’t realistic, and you have no control over the outcome. You may equate publishing a book to winning the lottery, but let me assure you that you have more control over getting your book onto bookstore shelves than banking that lottery check.
Starting with the broad picture, imagine yourself 5, 10, 20 years from now:
- Which of your accomplishments will make you the happiest?
- Which will you regret having pursued?
- What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in your writing career this year?
- What project will you complete and prepare for sale this year?
- What aspects of the business are you most unfamiliar with and plan to master this year?
- What are you doing to help others toward their goals?
Goals remain pipe dreams unless you have strategies to accomplish them. Just like goals, action plans must be specific, achievable, realistic, measurable, and timely. Goal-setting requires a commitment to change. Studies have shown that twenty-ones days are needed to make or break a habit.
- What am I willing to do today, tomorrow, and for the next 21 days to realize my goals?
- How much time will I invest daily toward my goals?
- What can I do in fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? One hour?
- Are there any small intermediate steps that will contribute to my goals?
Goals are most effective when written and shared. Share your goals with a trusted friend or spouse, and you’ll likely receive a response such as, “That’s nice, dear.” Share them with another writer, and you’ll hear, “Great! Now, what’s it going to take to accomplish these?” When someone holds you accountable for your goals, you are far more likely to put in the effort to achieve them.
Resolutions rarely last more than a couple weeks because they lack the tools to make them work. Goal-setting works when your goals become part of your business plan and give direction to your writing career.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do” – Mark Twain