Every year, I make goals. I found this old post here where my goal was to finish GILDED. It’s crazy to think at that time I had no idea that book would someday go on to be published and hit #4 of all books on Amazon and #1 in the YA category.
I’ve found creating manageable goals that I have control of are powerful and effective. Here’s my process for goal setting and (more importantly), the action plan.
One of the keys to developing goals is to reflect over what has worked and what hasn’t in the past.
1. Pull out that calendar! Look back through the last year. See what you did and when you accomplished things. For writing, I love using Word Keeper. At the end of every writing session, I type in my daily word count. This program graphs my progress so in one glance I can see which months are my most productive months.
2. Question yourself. What were my busy months? When am I most productive in the day? What projects did I enjoy working on the most? The least? What inspired me? What was discouraging?
3. Friends and co-workers. Always surround yourself with people who are not only positive, but also push you to become a better you. This year take the time to build those relationships and let go of the relationships that are toxic.
I’m a part of the MiG Writers, a group of six writers from all around the world, who critique each other and offer support.
I also a part of the YA Chicks, a group of Florida writers. We tour together and offer school visits. Then I have my crit partners like Beth Revis and Casey McCormick who not only give me honest and deep critiques, but are great as sounding boards. Having these groups revitalizes and stimulates me professionally and mentality as well as offers that support system I need.
Once you have a solid handle on what worked and what didn’t, create your goals for the new year. Remember:
1. Make manageable goals. Goals are created so you can be successful.
2. List your goals and post them in a visible location in your work place.
3. Break down your goals into chunks. For instance, by early January my goal is to send my agent 3 chapters from two new YA projects I’m working on. My goal for February is to revise my middle grade project.
4. All goals must be in your control. So getting a movie deal would not be on my list because I am not the person to decide if GILDED or THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE would be picked up by a producer.
5. Set up a support system. Find friends who will keep you accountable to hitting those goals. My MiG Writers Group emails each other from time to time with our goals and how we are doing on them. Here’s our post with examples. Debbie Ridpath Ohi set up a team on #Slack for a group of writers who wanted accountability. It’s a great place for me to tell the group my goal and then return with my results.
1. For each goal, determine the actions to achieve that goal. For instance, if I want to finish a novel by February, then I need to write 2k a day. Am I having trouble finding time to write? Maybe I need to go to bed earlier so I can wake up earlier? Or cut out TV for two months so I can write for an extra hour that night.
2. Rewards. Build into your schedule freedom days. Know that if you meet your weekly goal, then you get a day off. Or once you finish a draft of a book, celebrate by going out to dinner.
The Reach-for-the-Stars List
Last year I attended the Lucky 13 and One Four Writer’s Retreat. One of the exercises we did was to share something that we secretly really wanted for our writing career that was a big reach goal such as movie deal, selling or hitting a bestseller list. This is the list that is NOT in your control.
Why keep this kind of list?
1. Pushes me to be better.
2. Forces me to not settle or get too comfortable.
3. Allows me visualize hitting that next level.
The important thing is to remember that this is a fun/dream list. If you find yourself getting discouraged or it’s dragging you into despair, then set this aside until there’s a time that you are able to pull it back out.
The most powerful aspect to goal setting is to be steadfast in your daily delivery. Think of your goals like a marathon—one mile at a time—until you reach the finish line.
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