Just as most people make lofty resolutions about things like losing weight in the New Year, writers often take a deep breath and make resolutions about how they will improve their skills, their marketing and production in the New Year.
Well, we are nearing the end of January, so the question is what have you resolved to do?
It has been proven over and over again that goals, particularly if they are written, actually internalize and help a person move in the right direction, much the same as setting out on a trip with a road map. Take a good hard look at what kind of goals would work for you, and commit them to a list. It’s a good way to wrap up this first month of 2012.
Some things to keep in mind when setting goals
Goals should be realistic
It is one thing to scratch out a list of very ambitious and possibly unattainable milestones you resolve to reach. Although it is definitely good to challenge yourself to work up to your potential, the goals should be ones that stand a chance of really being something you can achieve—not pie in the sky.
If you are able to project the outcome as a number, that often helps
Sure you can create a list without this step, but what makes a better goal? I resolve to make more money or I want to increase my income by 15% this year or maybe the goal is to earn an extra $3,000. Simply saying “more money” is open ended and doesn’t give you a number to work toward. If we use the $10,000 for last year’s income, it may not sound much yearly income but the majority of writers actually don’t make the big bucks from their writing. By using $10,000 and 15%, it translates to I resolve to increase my income by $1,500 this year. Now figure out various ways it would be possible to add that figure to your income, and pick one or two of the best options.
Action—Once you have the number, list actions that might get you there
Think about action-related verbs, and wishing or yearning don’t qualify. Do you need to work smarter, produce more marketable work, write some freelance articles…think in those terms. Maybe you give talks. Do some research to see what kind of talks could pay an honorarium or result in selling books you wouldn’t sell ordinarily? For example, I wanted to earn an extra $1,000 last year. I wrote several articles for HowTo.com. The articles didn’t pay much and did take away time from writing fiction, but by the time I’d written the last article, I’d also earned close to my goal amount.
Give yourself a time limit
It is so easy to put things off when you know you have loads of time. With calendar in hand estimate how long you give yourself to reach each of the goals. Again, be realistic. If it is six months, circle a date six months down the road. If something might only take a week or two, put that in short-term goals. By setting short, medium and long term goals you’ve created a roadmap to achieving what you want to in 2012. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned them. Life gets in the way or events all fall into place and results appear quicker than you thought they would. Simply adjust the dates depending upon the situation, but keep your eye on the finish line.
Hmmm. Better pull out my 2012 calendar tomorrow.
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