Goal Setting: How to Set Achievable Goals
Happy New Year! As you start to work toward (or give up on) your New Year’s resolutions, now is a good time to think about your writing goals for the coming year. Unfortunately, though, simple thinking about your plans is rarely enough. Today’s post explains a common method of setting achievable goals and completing them to help you complete your New Year’s resolutions.
Setting SMART goals (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) helps you make sure you complete your resolutions.
A goal is not a goal unless it is specific. In fact, a vague goal is little more than a wish. Take, for instance, a goal to write more. More doesn’t tell you how much more you want to write. Do you want to finish a book, write fifteen short stories, or write a coherent sentence? More is subjective, and your opinion of it may change over the course of the year (or whatever time period you set for yourself to accomplish the goal). It may cause you to overwork yourself as you keep reaching for some intangible more, or it may convince you that you have accomplished your goal after writing one word.
Therefore, it is essential that you determine what exactly your goal is. This probably means adding some numbers. I want to write 250 words per day is a much more specific goal than I will write more, which means you can hold yourself accountable and are more likely to achieve it.
This ties into a goal’s measurability. You can easily measure your word count using word tracking softwares or your own spreadsheet. On the other hand, if your goal is to finish your book, you might have to find a more creative way to measure your progress. You might come up with a target word count and see the best way to split that up over the course of the year, or you might outline your novel and make sure you finish each part.
Being able to measure your progress on your goal allows you to recognize when you may not be reaching it and reward yourself when you do reach it.
This seems obvious, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of having unattainable goals to feel ambitious or productive.
Even if you do end up achieving your goals, it might be at the cost of quality. Sure, you could write two thousand words every day if you really tried, but this might result in burnout. There is no point spending two months overworking yourself only to end up writing the same sentence over and over again throughout the first week of March. It is much better to write 500 words (or whatever makes sense for you) five days per week because you will enjoy it more and what you do write will make more sense. Slow and steady wins the race after all.
And knowing that your goal is achievable isn’t enough. You need to know how to achieve your goal. Will you set aside a specific time in your daily or weekly schedule for achieving your goal? Will you tell a friend or family member what your goals are so they can check in with you to keep you accountable?
This will probably come naturally, but your New Year’s resolutions and other short-term goals should be relevant to your long-term ambitions. Avoid giving into peer and media pressure, which may encourage you to adjust your goals. Instead, focus on what you want to do.
Especially when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, ensuring that your goals are time-based is essential. After all, the last thing you want is to discover that you haven’t started your goals by Christmas.
The best way to make your goal time-based is to decide when you will finish different parts of your goal. Say, for example, you want to write a book over the course of the year. You can decide on a daily word count goal that will help you reach a target overall word count, or you can decide to finish a chapter each week, or you can decide to finish certain sections of your book by certain dates.
The point is, longer goals should be taken care of over long periods of time. Distant deadlines don’t mean you should wait to start on your goals. Setting time intervals at which you will achieve different aspects of your goal helps ensure that you achieve it.
All of this is to make sure you actually go through with your resolutions. Really thinking about what exactly your goal is and taking measures to ensure that you are able to achieve it allows you to achieve your goals.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments!
And good luck with your goals!