IMPORTANT NOTICE My Writing Blog is no longer being updated and has been archived. Please do not submit comments, as they will not be read or published. If you wish to continue following Nick Daws, you can do so on his new writing blog at www.entrepreneneurwriter.net or his UK personal finance blog at www.poundsandsense.com. Any queries about WCCL writing courses should be directed via www.myhelphub.com. Thank you!
It may just be another date in the calendar, but the start of a new year is undoubtedly a great time for taking stock and setting goals for the year ahead.
I'm a great believer in the value of goal setting for writers. So today I thought I'd share a few tips for setting your goals for 2015 so as to gain maximum benefit from them.
I'm going to suggest a four-step process for your goal setting. The four steps are: (1) Visualize, (2) Set Goals, (3) Plan and (4) Take Action. Let's take these one at a time...
1. VisualizeIf you just pluck goals out of thin air, perhaps because they are things you feel you "ought" to do, you are very likely to fail. For goals to be effective, you must be engaged with them on an emotional as well as a cognitive level. The more passionate you are about achieving your goals, the greater the likelihood you will succeed in doing so.
In my view it's much better to start with the end in mind. Imagine yourself a year from today, after having had your "ideal" year. What is different compared with how you are today? What have you accomplished? What are you most proud of in the year looking back? How does life look for you now?
Envisioning this desirable scenario will help you work out what things you most want to achieve in 2015 and prepare you for setting goals to achieve them. And yes, this applies equally to writing and other areas of your life as well!
2. Set GoalsOnce you know what you want to achieve in 2015, you can start setting goals to make this happen.
Vast amounts have been written about goal setting, but my personal favorite advice is to make your goals SMART. If you haven't heard this acronym before, it stands for: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Specific. I'll say a quick word about each of these.
Specific - Rather than "I want to boost my income from writing", a specific goal might be "I want to be earning $2,000 a month from writing by this time next year."
Measurable - This might be in financial terms, as in the last example, or simply in terms of numbers. For example, "By the end of this month I will have contacted fifty potential clients for my writing services."
Actionable - By this I mean that your goals should be expressed in a way that can be put into action. A goal such as "I want to be a successful author" is too vague to provide a useful target. A goal such as "I will complete five short stories by the end of next month" is actionable, and therefore much more helpful.
Realistic - Goals should be challenging, of course, but they must also be realistic. Only you will know what this means for you; but if you set goals that are simply impossible to achieve, you will only become discouraged when you fail to do so. Far better to set yourself more modest goals to start with, and make them more challenging if you find you are achieving them easily.
Time-specific - Always set yourself deadlines for achieving any particular goal, and do your best to meet those deadlines. If you fail to do so, it's not the end of the world - but immediately set yourself another deadline (maybe a more realistic one) and do all you can to ensure that this time you succeed in meeting it.
Long-term goals can be broken into short- and medium-term ones. For example, if your long-term goal is to become a successful Kindle author, your short-term goal might be to get your first Kindle e-book written and published within six weeks, and your medium-term goal to have six e-books published within six months.
3. PlanOnce you know what goals you wish to achieve, you can plan for how you will set about achieving them.
I have already talked about breaking down long-term goals into medium- and short-term ones. At the planning stage you can break these down further into specific action steps, each of which will (of course) have a deadline attached to it.
For example, if your first goal is to have a Kindle e-book completed by the end of January, your first action step might require planning and outlining your book by the end of the first week. Another term used for action steps is micro-goals. Whatever you call them, these are the building blocks you will use to ensure that every day you move another step closer to achieving your overall goals.
Write down your goals and action plans, and review them regularly to see how you are progressing toward achieving them. Inevitably, other events in your life can intervene from time to time, so try to retain an element of flexibility. It's important, though, to have at least a basic written plan to guide you. As I said earlier, you can always revise your plans if you need to. Just aim not to have to do so too often!
4. Take ActionHaving set your goals and prepared your action plan, all you now have to do is follow through on it in 2015!
Some days, inevitably, you will do more toward reaching your goals than others, but try to ensure that every day you at least do something toward achieving your writing goals.
One other tip is to make yourself accountable to someone else, by sharing your goals with them. Some writers find it helps to have an accountability partner, with whom they exchange goals. They can then help and encourage each other to achieve them.
You might also choose to share your goals via social media, or even in a comment on this blog post (see below). Knowing that other people are aware of your goals and are rooting for you to achieve them will help spur you on when the going gets tough.
Before I close, I'd just like to mention a few resources available from my sponsors/publishers, The WCCL Network. These can help you achieve your writing goals in 2015 by providing practical, step-by-step methods and action plans to follow.
Write Any Book in Under 28 Days - This is my original CD-based course which many thousands of students have used to help create their first book.
Novel in a Month - As you will gather, this course by my colleague Dan Strauss focuses specifically on creating a novel (my course covers both fiction and nonfiction book writing).
How to Write a Children's Book - I'm a big fan of this popular course by Mel McIntyre. If writing for children is something that appeals to you, you'll find plenty of inspiration here.
Kindle Kash - Publishing your own work on Kindle presents some amazing opportunities for writers. My Kindle Kash course will take you through everything you need to know to get started.
Blogging for Writers - Or if 2015 is to be the year you launch your own blog, my very latest course will guide you through it, step by step.
Those are just a few possibilities, incidentally. To see a full list of the writing courses published by WCCL (also known as the Self Development Network), check out this recent blog post.
IMPORTANT NOTICE My Writing Blog is no longer being updated. Please do not submit comments, as they will not be read or processed. If you wish to continue following Nick Daws, you can do so on his new writing blog at www.entrepreneneurwriter.net or his UK personal finance blog at www.poundsandsense.com. Thank you!