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You're Setting the Wrong Goals: 5 Practical Planning Tips for Authors

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 12:54 PM

Goals: every author's got them. Whether it's to hit a bestseller list or to write 500 words a day, everyone who's writing a book has some type of goals. The frustrating part about goals is how often we set them and fail.The problem is that these lofty ideas are dreams, not goals. A goal has to be concrete (you can describe it), it has to be quantifiable (you can measure it) and it has to be logical (you can do it). You can set goals all you want about selling millions of book copies, but if you don't sit down and write every day it's never going to happen. Instead of always feeling like you're failing because you're never reaching your goals, it may be time to look at your process of goal setting to find a better way.

author planning

Get Real

A great goal is one that you can reach if you stretch yourself. There's no victory in doing something you'd already do every day. Nobody celebrates brushing their teeth every morning except toddlers.You know yourself best, so choose a goal that seems just a little bit out of reach. Not so much that it looks impossible, but enough of a stretch that you have to work at it to succeed. A goal you've genuinely had to make an effort to reach is a goal worth celebrating when you achieve it.

Taking Steps

As Tony Robbins once said, the key to reaching your goal is simple: Look at where you are. Look at where you want to be. Write down the steps needed to get there. Take the first step. It may seem simplistic, but the most important part of this advice is the steps. Once you break a huge goal down into smaller chunks, it looks much more achievable. Don't just mentally break the journey into random pieces. Write it down on paper. Set a schedule. Assign a day on the calendar for each step to be taken, and set an alarm on your phone or computer to alert yourself to the daily goal. Make it such a part of your life that there's no way you can avoid or forget it. Small steps make it real instead of a dream for some far-off future. You're no longer wanting to get somewhere, you're actually on the road to getting there, and you've got a good map on the seat next to you.

The Gradual Rise

Break each goal into a series of mini goals. No one loses 100 pounds in one month. They lose it 1/2 pound or a pound at a time, week after week. Every time they reach a small goal, the work gets a little bit harder. It should be the same way with your writing goals. If you want to work your way up to 2,000 words a day, start out with a number that's within your reach but not easy. Once it turns into a habit, turn up the volume a little bit and increase the intensity. You should never be totally comfortable with your work, but you should feel like you can reach the mini goal if you try just a bit.

Educate Yourself

None of us live in a vacuum. No matter what your goal is, there are others who have been in that same position, and who've likely found a better way to do some of your steps. Seek out new apps and widgets. Take an online class. Ask questions in forums and in groups. Set yourself up for success by finding and using the most information possible.

Celebrate Success

If you're slogging through a long rise to the top, it makes no sense to acknowledge all the work you put in to get to where you are. You break your work down into mini goals. Reward yourself in a small way when you reach each goal. Buy yourself a latte. Download an audiobook. Choose a small treat to celebrate, then turn up the pressure and head toward the next goal. If you look ahead during your work day and see a small reward just ahead of your grasp, it will be great motivation for increasing your effort to reach it. One giant final goal can seem too far away, and it's easy to get discouraged it the journey ahead looks too long and difficult.

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!


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