How do you set your goals for the New Year? Our accountability group (Hi Ladies!) has been discussing our 2019 goals – what each person wanted to accomplish and what they actually did.
I have a confession to make. I hate these kinds of conversations. I’m excellent at “setting” goals. But actually following through? Let’s just say that I’m easily distracted. Put out a call that sparks an idea and there I go. Or offer me a paying gig. That tends to be pretty distracting too.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I’ve accomplished nothing. I’ve written and submitted three books this year. The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and The Murders of Tupac and Biggie, both in Abdo’s American Crime Stories, will come out in January. I’ve also read something like 140 books ranging from novels, memoirs, and graphic novels, to picture books and juvenile nonfiction.
Last year, I thought I had nailed this whole goal setting thing with Renee’s SMART goals. SMART goals are specific - write 1000 words a day vs write every day. They are relevant which means that they match your larger ambitions. Writing SMART goals would keep me on track. I was sure of it.
Then I started doing something else Renee suggested. In another post, "Write Your Dreams into Existence," Renee asked us to journal about where we wanted to be in 10 years. This method involves writing down ten long term goals that you want to achieve in ten years. Write them as if you’ve already achieved them vs something that will happen in the future. This means that you write “I have an agent” vs “I will find an agent.” Recopy your ten long term goals daily.
When I did this, I noticed the many things in my day that didn’t feed into these goals. I also started to see opportunities that would help me reach them. These are some of the things that “distracted” me from my annual goals.
How then should you set your annual goals? First things first, don’t think of them as annual goals. As Margo recently said in her post, “I've always wondered what was so magical about starting a new year. Why do we make all these promises to do all these things just because January is lucky enough to start a brand new, fresh calendar?”
These aren’t goals for January. These aren’t goals for the New Year. They are your writing goals. Some will be accomplished this year. Others will take longer.
So whether you do this now, at the tail end of December, or in two weeks when it is actually January, think about where you want to be in ten years. Do what Renee suggested and come up with ten long term goals for your future. Remember to write them in the present tense. 1. I have an agent. 2. I do school visits. 3. I have a strong online presence...
Then recopy them daily for several weeks. Do they still feel like solid long term goals? Rework the ones that feel off. Then repeat the process, writing them daily for several weeks.
Once you have long term goals that feel right, you are ready to set your short term SMART goals. These short term goals are the initial steps in realizing your long term goals.
After all, isn’t the whole point of setting goals to help you get where you want to be?
To find out more about Sue's writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey. Sue is also the instructor for Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins January 6th, 2020.