Setting Goals

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

– Douglas Adams

Jess asked us yesterday, “So do you want to be a writer?” and encouraged us to just do it. Amanda talked to us last week about “The Business of Writing” reminding us to treat our writing like what it is, a business. So if I want to be a writer and I want to treat it like a business, what are some of the things I need to do to take my craft from something I want to do into something I am actually doing?  For me, that meant setting some writing goals.

I’ve always been a writer at heart for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t start making progress as a writer until I started setting goals for myself. It made the abstract idea of wanting to be a writer a more concrete task to be accomplished. It also made something that could seem unattainable seem possible.

My brothers-in-law really impressed me with a five year plan they laid out to accomplish a goal they had in mind of starting a new business in a new place. They set a realistic time line, made practical plans, did research and went about making it happen. Today they are living where they want, doing what they want and they accomplished it by setting and sticking to their goals.

Last year I set myself a challenge to write every day. My plans weren’t as solidly laid out as they might have been, but just setting a goal to write every day, even with loose restrictions on what I had to write, helped me get into the habit of writing. I didn’t set a word count limit, though some people do. I didn’t set a time limit, though some people benefit from setting a specific required time. I didn’t even make what type of writing I had to a part of the goal. For me, just having set the goal to write every day pushed me to make real my desire to write.

To set a goal that works for you, first you need to decide what exactly you want to accomplish. Where do you want to end up once the goal is met? How much time do you want to allow to get there? Is the goal less about where you want to be and more about improving how you manage to get there?

Once you’ve set a goal and set about accomplishing it, you might find the plan you’ve put into place isn’t working for you. Allowing a little flexibility and an ability to shift as needed can help you make it to the finish line, instead of quitting halfway through the race.  When I set the goal to write every day last year, I had originally thought I would blog every day as well. I quickly learned that I couldn’t manage both. Many people can, and do, successfully, but I realized with my work and family life it just wasn’t possible. Tweaking my original idea of what I would do rather than abandoning it all together meant that I continued working toward what I want.

I’ve still got quite a few goals in place now and am always looking for others I may need to put into place. What about you? Do you have any goals you have set and met? Any you are considering setting for yourself? Do you work well with goals or avoid them? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

Thanks and have a great week! 🙂

~CJS

5 responses to “Setting Goals

  1. When my dad passed away, and everything that happened after, I discovered that setting goals was the only way I could accomplish what I wanted to achieve. So I wasn’t where I wanted to be? Why not? What did I need to do to get there? Goal setting is an important part of writing, I think. Even if it’s just to sit down and write 500 (or in AJ’s case 99) words. Some days I’m lucky to just get in three good sentences (and those are hard days, let me tell you). But a goal is necessary.
    Great article CJ!

  2. Some days a few good words is best we can ask for 😉 Thanks!

  3. My goals aren’t usually all that specific. No word count aimed at…just, “All right, today I’m getting some %&%$@# writing done!”
    Then I’m not beating myself up because I didn’t reach my 1500 word count goal. If I finished a paragraph, then I got some &*%#$@ writing done. Goal met!

  4. An excellent goal – and pretty close to my own. Just a little more colorful 😉 Thanks Joe!

  5. I respect your continuing journey … keep striving – you have enriched your life and brought joy and encouragement to others through sharing your journey. thanks for sharing …

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