The most successful people in almost every industry use goals as the roadmap to help them reach their desired destination. It’s no different for writers. If you want to produce a successful article, essay, book, or career, you need to set goals. Setting goals before the New Year or in January is a great idea. Maybe you did that this year…maybe you didn’t. Even if you took on this task and accomplished it (met the goal), it’s important to set goals regularly—and to review them. That’s how you guarantee that this year won’t be just like last year. If you really crushed it over the past twelve months you might like to have a repeat performance. However, you may find yourself feeling like you could have done more, achieved more, earned more, or produced more last year—or even last month. Isn’t it time you stopped feeling that way? If you want to follow the lead of other high-performers and increase your productivity, you must set writing or career goals. Although I’ve written about this topic before, I’d like to take it a bit further before the year gets away from you.
SMART Goal Setting
In his classic bestseller Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill offers six steps for setting and reaching goals.
- Have a specific goal.
- Have a specific time to achieve your goal.
- Write down your goal.
- Develop a plan to achieve your goal.
- Decide what price you are willing to pay.
- Think about your goal every day.
Hill’s strategies for goal setting have often been called SMART Goals. To make your goals effective they must be:
Specific: Goals should simplistically and clearly define what you are going to do.
Measurable: Goals should be measurable so you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal.
Attainable: Goals should be achievable yet stretch you slightly so you feel challenged.
Realistic: Goals must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.
Timebound: Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a sense of urgency or results in tension between your current reality and your future vision.
It’s a smart (excuse the pun) idea to apply Hills’ strategies, or SMART goals, as you create and review goals for your writing career and business.
The New SMART Goal
However, take this idea a step farther and utilize a new type of smart goal. When you create your writing goals, make them:
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 or be aligned with your passion and purpose.
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 in other people’s lives.
Relevent: 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. They should relate to your “Big Why.”
Timeless: Your goals should be attached to a “big picture,” or vision, that extends beyond this moment and into the future.
Take time to define and review your writing and career goals using both types of SMART goals. Then read these goals two or three times per day every day.
7 Tips for Setting—and Achieving—Your Goals
Over the years, a debate has arisen about whether or not goal setting works. I’m a firm believer in using goals to help me achieve the success I desire. So are some of the people I admire and whose advice I follow, such as Brian Tracy, Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard, and Michael Hyatt. I’ve successfully used goals with my clients as well. That said, you have to know how to set and use goals if you want to achieve them. Use them incorrectly, and you might find they hinder, rather than, help you. First, try not to overwhelm yourself. Too many goals will leave you unable to accomplish any of them. I suggest you write down three major goals you want to accomplish this year and three minor goals you’d like to achieve. Second, use these seven tips to achieve your nonfiction writing goals:
- Create goals that feel like a stretch, but not too large of a stretch that it feels impossible to achieve. The idea of accomplishing some really large goal can seem positive, but if you fail, you’ll be less likely to attempt any goal, let alone a related one, again. Set yourself up for success. Your goals should be attainable and realistic—but still a bit beyond your current skill or comfort level.
- Line up your goals up with your passions. Remember, you create your writing goals; you should be passionate about these since they constitute your career. Develop a career around the work that inspires you.
- Create goals that are built upon your sense of purpose. Don’t let your goals revolve only around accumulation of things or getting more—making more money, having a larger platform or selling more books. All of this might help you succeed, but you will find it easier to achieve your goals if you tie them into your values and your sense of purpose or mission. That is why sometimes you will see SMART goals with the “realistic” changed to “relevant”; both words make a huge difference to actually achieving your goal since it must be both realistic and relevant. Consider what has been called “Your big why”—your sense of purpose, mission or calling. The purpose behind the goal will drive you to accomplish it every time.
- Keep in mind the difference between your intentions and your goals. An intention has a huge amount of power once set. It is the direction you want—intend—to take or the action you intend to pursue. Hopefully you do so with passion and purpose, lending even more positive energy to that intention. If you intend to become a bestselling e-book author, for example, because this fits with your values and a sense of purpose, you will find yourself creating goals easily and effortlessly that are always “on purpose” with your intention. You’ll also accomplish these with less difficulty.
- Avoid the negative sink hole of focusing on what you don’t have right now. This will produce negative emotions that make it difficult for you to move toward achievement of your goals. Be grateful for what you do have and for every baby step you make toward your goal. If achieving your goal requires what you don’t have, that acquisition becomes a step toward your goal you must achieve.
- Be kind to yourself. Accept where you are now as you look toward the future. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are traveling at your own speed toward your own destination.
- Be accountable to someone. This can make a huge difference to whether or not you achieve your goals. For this reason, sometimes the “realistic” in SMART goals is changed to “reportable.” Consider sharing your goals in the comment section below.
Set goals that excite you because they align with your sense of purpose and passion and push you to fulfill your potential. Remember, when you combine your passion and your purpose, you feel inspired. That helps you take inspired action toward your goals on a regular basis. That’s the SMART way to create and manifest all the things you want in your life and career as a writer and author.
If you want to increase your writing productivity, you may need more than just goal setting and regular goal review. You need to become a high-performance writer. Check out the tips and tools here.
Photo courtesy of iqoncept