Goal setting is something I strive to do on a regular basis. It’s something many of us attempt either consciously or subconsciously at some point in our lives. Suddenly, we become serious about something we want and decide to make a change.
For some this could be an annual event, for example a New Year’s resolution. For others, if could be an accomplishment deadline; recognition for a promotion at work, or a certain level of health achieved by a wedding date, graduation date, or birthday. Sometimes we have ideals in the back of our minds, and we allow ourselves permission to be unaccomplished until a certain date… by the time I’m twenty-five, or thirty, or before I’m fifty…
I’ve read all about writing your goals down. I’ve even quoted the infamous Harvard study about writing down your goals as a proven method to assuring completion. Although, I have since learned this study is a myth. Not to worry, a group did set out to create a new study and received the same results. https://sidsavara.com/fact-or-fiction-the-truth-about-the-harvard-written-goal-study/ As we can all imagine, it does help to write down your goals. It makes sense, because writing things down helps us better remember them. But is this enough?
I used to write down my goals all the time. I also adjusted them when deadlines crept up too quickly, or changed them all together if it appeared I might not succeed. Sometimes, I even forgot about them feigning (or truly experiencing) busyness. However, in my other life (the one that pays the bills), I am required to make SMART goals. Specific, measurable, action-planned, realistic, and timely goals. I always kept these versions of goal-setting for work, and not my personal life. But, as I am now working towards intentionality in my writing life… why wouldn’t I apply a SMART goal to help myself?
You have to analyze what you really want in your life, to the answer the five questions below, and that’s when things become real. They become authentic and serious. I guess my days of little girl wishing are long gone.
Here is an example of my own “writing” SMART goal (which is causing me some anxiety to share it with the world, but here it goes):
S – I want to find a quality agent for my YA/Fantasy manuscript (and publish my book).
M – I will know I’ve met my goal when I receive positive responses back from a query, and ultimately find an agent I relate to, and who gets my book published.
A – I will fine tune my query, synopsis, and first chapters by getting feedback from other writers. I will research and query agents within my genre in small batches, as per author, Tomi Adeyemi (I’m in her FB Writing group and she talks about querying in small batches at a time, learning from each batch as you go). I will keep a record of agents and feedback along the way, and I will continue honing my craft as a writer by reading resources for quality writing, creating a critique group, and writing every day.
R – I have a completed manuscript (with positive feedback from three separate groups of beta readers).
T – I wish to have an agent and working to publish my book before the next PNWA Conference, September 2018.
I encourage you, with any kind of goal you may be striving for, short-term or long-term, to apply the SMART concept and see what happens. My guess is you will see more accountability. It’s that dang A in the word… like high school all over again, that makes all the difference. For me, though, seeing that A for ACTION is more helpful than the gate-keeping power of the A in ACCOUNTABILITY. For some reason my act of doing something… no matter how small, keeps me energized and focused. Then, even if I don’t reach my goal by the deadline, I can see the progress I’ve made, and my new goals, based off my previous ones, will become even tighter.
Do you see? When you apply SMART goals, then it becomes about the progress, and not necessarily the end-result. When you apply ACTION towards your goal, you have specific evidence as to what is or is not working. You can analyze along the way, adjust as needed, and not wait for the surprise result at the end. You can guide your goal the direction you need it to go. And if you can’t, then you work to conquer the problem along the way, still creating action towards your goal.
In the end, when that deadline falls, you’ll have information. You will know what you did or didn’t do to accomplish your SMART goal. This doesn’t mean you look for fault or blame if your goal isn’t accomplished. There is no time for self-loathing in goal-setting. Obviously, you had the best intentions when you went through the process of setting a SMART goal to begin with. Or why bother?
What this does mean, is that you recognize what worked and what didn’t work. Adjust your ACTION-PLAN, and move forward on a new specific goal (countering the obstacles that invaded your flow the last time). Was your goal too big? Do you need more time? Was the deadline realistic? Do you need to break your goal into smaller, more specific steps? Then, make the fixes needed and GO!
And guess what? January is not the only month for goal-setting. You can start… and restart at any time.
Draw the line behind you, so you don’t trip over it, and move forward.
Start fresh every day.
All of this advice I learned from other people. But, it is good advice. We have to work toward our goals with a growth-mindset (don’t get me started… that’s another subject for another post). Just put your rosy glasses on and trust me.
One more thing…
Regardless of your success, make time to celebrate your progress. You’ve either accomplished your goal, or maybe part of your goal, or possibly identified areas of adjustment for your goal. But, hopefully you’ve celebrated even your smallest steps along the way. It’s essential to be your own cheerleader, (I will write another post about the importance of small celebrations, soon). Surely, you have saved that bottle of wine, or planned a nice dinner out to celebrate any amount of accomplishment. Why not?!
And just to say… There is nothing wrong with assessing your results at your deadline, and creating a Plan B. It’s your goal, and you can make it what you want. So, put on your SMARTy-Pants and get goal-setting!
Links I used in this post: (I made reference to author, Tomi Adeyemi, in my goal, so here is her website: http://www.tomiadeyemi.com/
SMART GOAL LINK: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=jXvaz5jC&id=F4ADDDBB78F2EFF20722B1EA7C2E4315047435AB&
Categories: Thoughts on writing...