I'm not a big fan of new year resolutions. Too often when we make a list of everything we want to achieve in the coming year, we set ourselves up for failure. We put too much pressure on ourselves to perform, as if this is a one shot in the year deal. Personally, I think goals are much more fluid and should be re-looked and changed throughout the year.
Setting goals will help you achieve more in life.
I believe it is crucial to have goals. Without them, we flounder around in the dark. With them, we set ourselves up to achieve. There is enough evidence available to show that people who set themselves tangible and achievable goals are way more likely to achieve them than those with a vague 'I want to do better this year' aim. This is why there's such roaring business for life coaches!
So how do we set goals for ourselves that are realistic but still make us stretch ourselves?
A tip for goal setting, which I'm sure you've heard before, is to make your goals SMART:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time-based
There are three questions you should ask yourself as you're setting your goals:
What actions do I need to take to achieve my goal?
Who can help me achieve my goal?
Is this goal something I have control over?
While a goal like 'sign a publishing contract with a Big Five publisher' is admirable, it involves a great many things beyond your control. However, a goal like 'submit my manuscript to 20 agents before the end of the year' is not only within your control, it's also specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
Before you start setting your goals for 2018, however, I'd like you to take one step back. I want you first to look back at this past year and to find three achievements you've accomplished in 2017 that are worth celebrating.
No matter how big or small those achievements are, I want you to acknowledge them. Whether it was completing a manuscript, or letting someone else read it, entering a contest, joining a writers' group or attending a workshop or conference, celebrate the steps you've already taken.
Okay, now you're ready to start looking forward. Now, I'd like you to start your fresh, new writing year by setting three goals.
Why three? Because there is so much more to writing than getting published, though that is our ultimate aim. Other goal ideas could include taking a course to improve your craft, meeting other writers, or researching publishers and agents.
I'd like you to try to make at least one of your goals process oriented (eg. I will write 500 words every day, Monday to Friday).
One of your goals should be resources oriented. Who or what can help you achieve your ultimate goals? (eg. hiring a coach, finding an agent, joining a critique group, or signing up for a class). Make one of your goals be something active you can initiate in pursuit of a larger goal.
And finally, at least one of your goals should be outcome oriented (eg. to submit to X publishers or agents before the end of the year).
Breaking it down further, I'd like you to ensure that one of your goals is a 'minimum' goal, something you can achieve fairly easily. This is to give you a positive sense of accomplishment to spur you on to achieve even greater things. And one of your goals should be an ideal outcome goal (eg. I will complete my novel and start submitting to publishers in 2018).
Once you're happy with your three goals, I'd like you to print them out and stick them up close to your work space, somewhere you can see them every day. (I keep my motivational graphic stuck inside my car's sun visor.) If you' want to create a pretty little graphic to represent your goals, check out Canva, it's a free internet design site with loads of ready-to-use templates.
If you'd like to work with someone on these goal statements to make them as SMART as you can, or if you're looking for someone to get you kick-started on your writing journey, and to keep you accountable, please do consider hiring me as your writing coach.
To find out more about what a writing coach can do for your career, check out my website here: www.writingcoach.co.za/coaching
I'd also like to do a punt for my good friend and life coach, Mandy Verbaan. Working with Mandy these last few months has given me a fresh and more dynamic approach to life. (And she's given me the kick in the butt I needed!) If you are looking for practical ways in which to turn your life around, not just your writing, then Mandy's your gal.