Set Goals Instead!
By: Trista Herring Baughman
As 2021 comes to a close and 2022 approaches, for many, it’s once again time for making New Year’s Resolutions: get fit, quit bad habits, get organized, spend less time on social media, and more time with loved ones, etc. These are noble ambitions, but I am not one of the many. I stopped making resolutions long ago.
Although well-meant, my resolutions tended to be feckless aspirations. I suppose resolutions are a good starting point, but they aren’t enough. What I needed were goals.
What’s the difference? I can track my goals and see the progress I have made. I assign smaller milestones for each objective; each milestone is time-bound.
I don’t do this solely at New Year’s but throughout the year. I often re-evaluate goals to ensure they are still the right goals. Here’s a checklist to help form and maintain your goals.
Goal Evaluation Checklist
- Is my goal specific? If your goal is too general, too vague, you’re likely to wander around aimlessly–especially if you’re a list-maker like me.
- Is my goal realistic? Can you accomplish it in the given time?
- Why is this my goal? Your why is very important. If you don’t want this, you will not succeed. Motivation is key.
- What is the deadline? Not every goal will have a deadline. However, giving a deadline helps with motivation. If I have only a certain amount of time to complete a task, I’m more likely to get it done.
- What is the consequence if I do not reach said deadline? What’s the reward if I do? Didn’t finish your 1000 word per day writing goal? NO cookies for you!
- In which category does this goal belong? (daily/weekly/long-term) It helps to prioritize your goals. You want to make sure your top priorities–your big rocks–come first. You will want to check these often to ensure you stay on task.
- What steps should I take to meet this goal? Smaller objectives to reach long-term goals are often more attainable. Baby steps!
- Is this goal still relevant; should I adjust it? It’s ok for goals to evolve or change completely. You don’t want to be too wishy-washy, though, or it will defeat the purpose.
For me, goals are exceptionally vital for writing. Think about some things you want to accomplish with your writing: getting your work out there, marketing your book, finding a literary agent, becoming a freelance writer–whatever you’re hoping to do as a writer–to help form your goals. Also, think of things you want to stop: procrastination, being too hard on yourself, etc. Doing so will help you formulate plans and construct manageable steps to ensure their realization.
Your assignment? Take out your writing notebook and take that first step. Make your list of goals.
Goals to get you started:
- Write daily. It doesn’t matter what you write–just do it. You can write your story outlines, character sketches, journal, or work on your current project. Set a writing goal of words per day. 1000 to 1500 words is a good start. Find time the best time to write and be diligent. Commit to finishing your projects. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them.
- Learn to say “no”. Is Facebook calling your name? Look away! Neighbors and friends dropping by in your designated writing time to chat? It’s ok to say no. If you don’t take your writing seriously no one else will.
- Learn to say “yes”. Enter contests. Submit your work to magazines and send query letters. Self-publish. Start a blog. You don’t have to do it all, but pick a few things and say yes. Share your talent with the world.
- Prioritize. There’s a Chinese Proverb that says, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” Choose your goals wisely and pursue one at a time. Multitasking is not always your friend.
- Read more. At least half of your job as a writer is to read. Reading fuels your imagination and feeds your writing soul.
- Travel. Nothing boosts your creativity like going to new places and experiencing new things.
- Update your website and social media pages. Let your readers know about your current projects. Reply to comments on your posts, that sort of thing.
- Stay positive. You won’t reach every goal on time every time. Don’t give up. Find some inspirational quotes to cheer you on. Print them and hang them near your workspace.
- Enlist an accountability partner. Having someone to swap reads and edits with is a fantastic motivational tool.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Consider your other obligations and choose three or four goals to start. Once you have your list, be sure to implement it. Now is as good a time as any to begin good habits. You can do this!
Whether you’re smashing plates at midnight, watching the ball (or Moon Pie) drop, kissing your sweetheart, or something else, take time to reflect and to soak in the traditions. I wish you a very happy, productive, and blessed New Year on behalf of Pikes Peak Writers and myself.
Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama. She isthe author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find out more about her books on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.