Setting Writing Goals, Not Just Writer Wishes

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Have you ever thought about what you’ll be doing in five years? Or what you WANT to be doing in five years? Do you have any clean objectives in your author career, or are you just floating in a sea of revisions and unfinished chapters? 

Goal setting is one of those things we’re doing all the time, regardless of whether we understand it’s passive or active. But, it’s only when the action becomes active that we understand and can fully benefit from what we’re doing.

When we’re conscious about our decisions, we can make great goals that further our reach and potential through passion and drive. 

Goals are the thing that propel you forward into uncharted territory and make you realize that accomplishing your dreams and living your passions is a very real possibility. 

Setting Actionable & Intentional Writing Goals

Setting goals has made so many things happen for me. And by that I don’t mean goals simply handed me all the things I’ve done. No. However, the goals I set really started honing and focusing my drive to help me start jumping from stepping-stone to stepping-stone.

A large part about being human is the search of meaning and purpose, but what many expect is far different from reality. Many think their meaning and purpose will come to them like a spark, but that isn’t always the case. And by always, I mean that’s never the case.

Sure, your passion might crop up on you in a dream or epiphany of some sort, but it’s what you do after that that really grinds your spark into something tangible. Into your true purpose and drive and something you can take with you and create.

Thus far you might ask yourself why I’m talking about meaning and passions, but I think the reason should be obvious. I’m talking about it because this is the “why” behind every goal we create, and it’s those goals that will propel you to the next phase in your journey.

Until this point, you might have some semblance of what your passion is, but that passion doesn’t become your dream job or dream career until you turn those wishes into goals. 

As part of the New Year, we’re going to talk about SMART goals and how you can best situation yourself for success.

When it comes goals, it definitely matters how we set them and our intentions behind each goals as to whether we’re successful in achieving them. 

I want to share my process with you so you can better understand the mindset I have around goal setting; but before we get into that, I want to go over the one question you’ll want to ask yourself (and answer) before you can decide which goals you want to tackle.

The question is: How is this goal meaningful to me?

As writers, we’re often making sales goals and goals that will help you attain that next level, whatever that next level might be. Whether it’s finishing your WIP, promoting an existing book, up-leveling your platform or learning something new, it needs to attribute to whatever your ultimate dream is.

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking to learn something new, use my link to access two months of SkillShare Premium for free.

Quick Guide for Setting Writing Goals

Okay, so you know your goals have to be relevant to your dreams, here’s my quick guide and method as to how I decide upon and set intentional goals:

Step 1: Decide.

The first thing I do it sit down and decide what my three or four overarching goals for the quarter are. Do I want to increase sales, increase my social media following, finish a novel, or…? 

Step 2: Write it down.

Whatever my overarching goals are, I decide upon them and write them down. I typically write them on paper and then transcribe them to my goals list on Trello

Step 3: Break your goals down.

At this point, I’ll create 5-10 mini-goals that I’ll need to do to accomplish my main goal. Do I want to promote something? Will I send it via email, post about it on social media, or write a blog post? You want to ask yourself what things you’ll need to do to tackle each of your goals. 

Step 4: Set a deadline.

Like I mentioned, I typically set quarterly goals, but each of these mini-goals will need to also need to have deadlines to ensure I’m just doing them all the week before the end of the quarter. By creating this action plan, you’re creating an outline for your goals, making them easier to focus and accomplish. 

Step 5: Follow through.

What’s the point to these goals if we don’t follow through and gauge how well we did? Try setting a reward at the end of each quarter that you’ll receive once you’ve accomplished at the end of the timetable. You’ll just have to have some restraint and without your reward if you don’t accomplish your goals.

Step 6: Review.

You should review your goals daily, but at the very least you should be touching base weekly to ensure you’re on track to complete your targeted mini-goals and overarching categorical goals. 

Did you notice anything about my goals and process?

Breaking Down the Writing Goals Process

When we think about it, step 1 is about creating three or four categories you’d like to improve. Perhaps it’s increasing sales or your social media reach. Then, we broke down those overarching goals or categories and created mini-goals that helped get us towards our overarching goal categories.

Writing Goal Tip #1: Don’t Focus To Heavily In One Area Of Your Business

You might ask why I do this, and the answer is simple. I don’t want to focus too heavily on any one area of my business. Instead, I want to have one business-focused goal, one marketing/promotional goal and one goal that really dives into my passion. It’s just one more way I keep myself balanced.

Just like when you’re setting up your sales and promotions, you MUST create a sense of urgency with your goals. Otherwise, what’s stopping you from putting them off and putting them off until whenever you get around to it. 

Having a system in place that streamlines your goal-setting process is key to success. Why? Because many people set goals. It takes very little to think up a few things you want to accomplish, but it takes a little more to accomplish the next few steps to write them down, create an action plan and do exactly what you’ve set out to do. 

And the trickier thing yet is that goals can’t just be something you want. I mean, of course you’ll want them, otherwise they wouldn’t be goals, but you’ll need to want them like you want your passion. 

Because it’s the drive and passion behind your goals that really motivate you to accomplish them. Not the words you write on paper. 

Which is exactly why I suggest 3-4 overarching, categorical goals, with 5-10 mini-goals for each. This should give you plenty to work towards while also not being too overwhelming that you don’t have enough time to devote to each one.

And if you find that’s too much to start out, just start with one overarching goal with an appropriate amount of mini-goals to help keep you focused.

Writing Goal Tip #2: Be Realistic With Your Writing Goals

Being realistic when it comes to the goals you set for yourself is key to committing to the success of each goal, because when we don’t accomplish our goals, we often feel disheartened and frustrated with the results. This can de-motivate us from setting future goals to achieve, and we definitely want to keep setting goals to continue up-leveling our business.

Writing Goal Tip #3: Create Accountability

Do you find yourself struggling to complete your goals? Or are you just being lazy? Create an accountability partner with one of your critique partners and review with them on a monthly or weekly basis. Just make sure it’s someone you trust, who knows how to give honest and constructive feedback and someone who’s in it for the long-haul. 

It would be such a letdown to get all hyped, for your partner to give in half-way through the first quarter. 

Writing Goal Tip #4: Calendar Block Your Time

The next step, after you’ve acquired your accountability partner, is to calendar block time out of your day or week to strictly focus on your goals. While everything you do should in some way relate to your goals, you should be setting specific time aside to write that promotional email or blog post; to create that social media ad, to finally update and finish your “About Me” page on your website.

You create time for everything else in your life. Why shouldn’t you create a block of time completely dedicated to your goals and dreams?

My biggest tip for succeeding in your goals is to review and plan for them daily. This not only keeps your goals top of mind, but it’ll force you to plan for and initiate tasks that pertain to your goals.

And as an aside, I know there are always goals floating around in your head. I know this because there are always things I want to do floating in mine. 

To tackle this and not distract myself from the current quarter’s goals I create a separate “to-do” goals list, which is basically just a long list of goals I know I want to do, but that aren’t on the agenda for this quarter.

Writing Goal Tip #5: Creating A Running Goals List to Review & Set For Future Quarters (so you don’t lose track of any goals!)

This serves a dual purpose. I’ll always have a running list of things I can do for next quarters’ goals, and if I finish early (and you’ll be surprised by how often this happens when you start holding yourself accountable) then I can create an extra goal or two to add to the chopping block. 

Okay, but what if a goal you set doesn’t turn out to be what you want or need? This is exactly why we ask ourselves the question beforehand – to try to avoid this – but if a goal has made it through the initial vetting process and still winds up being irrelevant, then you just need to ask yourself what the benefits truly are for accomplishing this goal. 

Don’t just put it on the back burner. Ask yourself what it’s true relevance is. Maybe this goal doesn’t immediately help, but is it something you’ll need to do, eventually? If so, you might want to check it off now. I mean, you’ve already come this far.

But, if the goal you’ve set is truly unremarkable and completely irrelevant, then there’s no failure in setting it free. 

Just like when you have a book idea you aren’t passionate about, it’s okay to table it for a later date or set it free and forget about it. But if you find yourself doing this every quarter, then you really need to ask yourself if you know where you’re headed, because it’s likely you don’t know.

Remember, goal-setting isn’t a race; it’s a marathon. The goals you accomplish today might not seem big, but they compound every week and month, quarter and year, and before you know it you’re two steps from meeting your biggest goals! And then you get to set new ones!

There’s a million ways to goal-up and tackle your dream, but the main point is to not procrastinate them. It’ll might look like a mountain until you reach a few milestones, but everyone thinks their goals are insurmountable until they surmount them. The mountain gets smaller and the mountains turn into hills, then anthills and so on, until it’s just a long stretch of road in front of you.

When you start leaving your comfort zone and stretch out in the uncomfortable around you, you’ll start realizing it’s just the same world through a different lens. There’s nothing scary about your dreams. Not in reaching for them or accomplishing them.

And if you’re worried about what others will say, because that’s always been my main fear, then just store that away, in the back of your mind, and wait until the day where you’re so proud of your accomplishments that you’re bursting to tell someone. Because goals help you accomplish your dreams, and dreams are what passions are made of. 

Before I sign-off for the day, I’d like to ask you a question. Are you ready to learn something new? If one of your goals for the New year to learn something new every month? Or even just learn more about one specific thing?

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