It seems like just yesterday I composed my list of goals and wrote a vision for 2015. Now the end of January has arrived. It feels like the month flew by! It’s time for an honest evaluation of my progress: Have I made strides toward achieving my goals?
That’s the focus of this writing prompt. The majority of people set goals but never look at them again. You won’t get far that way!
Hopefully, you did, indeed, set goals and create a written vision (or a vision map) for the New Year. (Click here to read the first in a three-part series of posts on setting goals.) It’s not important that you make big steps toward your goals each month, but you want to at least take baby steps.
Nonfiction Writing Prompt #39: Evaluate Your Progress
To complete this nonfiction writing prompt, determine if you have taken any action toward achieving your goals. To do this, begin by re-reading your goals and vision. If you created a list of action items to complete, have you checked any of them off?
If you haven’t managed to check off any items (or few items), you might need to evaluate the goals themselves. Be sure you have:
1. Written down three to five major things you want to accomplish this year and three to five minor things you’d like to achieve. You should end up with no more than ten goals for the year.
2. Created SMART Goals. The elements included in this type of goals help you achieve them. They are specific—posses a clear description or definition, measurable—you can determine if you have achieved them, attainable—stretch you but feel reasonable and achievable, realistic—are not out of reach or beyond the scope of your ability, and time-bound—include deadlines.
Take this idea a step further by creating goals that include my definition of Smart Goals:
Sensational: Your goals should excite and inspire you and possibly be part of a larger goal or bold, audacious plan.
Moving: You should feel emotionally attached to your goals; they should “move” you.
Aspirational: Your goals should involve things you strive toward. Taking action toward them should create a sense that you are taking steps to fulfill your purpose and to make a meaningful and positive difference in the world or other people’s lives.
Relevant: Your goals should have meaning in your life and to the “big picture” of what you hope to achieve, the legacy you want to leave, how you want to serve others, and the difference you want to make.
Timeless: Your goals should be attached to a “big picture,” or vision, that extends beyond this moment and into the future.
3. Prioritized your goals. Which ones take precedence over the others? Create a prioritized order.
4. Created an action plan (to-do list) for each goals. This plan helps you navigate your map and ensures you reach your destination (accomplish your goals). This chunks your big goals down into smaller ones—those baby steps I mentioned—that you can accomplish each day, week or month.
5. Plot your action items on your calendar. This is how you ensure you make progress on those baby steps!
People who set goals but never read them on a regular basis or evaluate their progress don’t make progress. That means the likelihood of them achieving their goals declines.
Today, make sure you have goals, and then evaluate the progress you are making toward them. Otherwise, time will fly by and you won’t achieve the success you desire.
How did you do this month? Did you achieve any of your 2015 goals already or take baby steps toward them? Let me know in a comment. (I’ll go first!)
For more information on goal setting for writers, join the NFWU. When you do, you’ll receive the January Nonfiction Writers’ University (NFWU) challenge, an assignment which contains a more in-depth look at how to set goals. Plus, you’ll have access to the growing archive (13 months) of past homework assignments and NFWU event recordings as well as recordings of and access to live coaching as well as introductory gifts worth well over $100 value! Members also get additional bonuses during the year.
Next NFWU event: FREE teleseminar on 2/11 at 5 pm PT: Taming Your Nonfiction Projects with Scrivener with Scrivener expert Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies. Register here. (No membership required.)
To find out more about or to join the NFWU, click here.
Photo courtesy iqoncept