New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them. We all break them.
But, with a little forethought and proper planning, it is possible to aspire to a resolution that you can embrace.
Let’s be honest, the main reason people give up on their New Years Resolutions is because they’ve made their goals too grand – unattainable even for those with the most sincere heart. But it is possible to create goals for successful writing in 2015 – ones that you will not be tempted to break.
First, you need to know the difference between goals and desires.
desire: to wish or long for; crave; want.
goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
Here’s the skinny on the two: Desires require control that you just don’t have, because others are involved. Goals rely only on you. Period.
Wow, right? When I first heard this, I was blown away by it’s simplicity, yet knew right away that this was where I erred. Like, on a daily basis.
Frustration comes when you focus on desires, not goals.
Here are some examples:
‘Find an agent to get my book traditionally published’ – Guess where this falls? Desire! You got it! Why? Because you can send out a million query letters and still not find an agent to represent you. Finding an agent relies on someone else, other than just you. That agent must choose to represent you. And you just can’t control other people.
‘Write 1000 words every day’ – Where does this belong? Goal! Yep. Why? Because you have control of your day, you can decide when to stop tending to other things in your life and to sit down at your laptop for an hour or two. This idea does not rely on other people. (Although, you might be affected by others, which we will get to in a bit.)
Great, now you know the difference between the two – so how do you set good goals, that aren’t desires? Let’s talk about that!
Make realistic goals. It is quite a noble goal to write every day, but if you have an outside career where you work 12 hours per day, plus you’re married with children, that might not be attainable for you. (At least not without sacrificing other important things in your life!) But what about your days off? Is there one day you could commit to writing, where you put it on the calendar and others know this is your undisturbed time? If so, then maybe having a goal of writing 3000-4000 words per week will do, and you can mark down which day(s) you will accomplish this. The main point here – you must make sure your goals are realistic and attainable for you. Otherwise, your writing will get lost with all that junk mail in your email box. What works for other writers, might not be what you have to do to complete that novel burning inside you. Don’t demand of yourself what you can’t do.
Make your goals measurable. If you aren’t able to measure if you’ve achieved your goal, this will only frustrate you. Instead of setting a goal of ‘Be more disciplined with my writing’, change it to ‘I will write for 2 hours, every Friday’. That way, at the end of the month, you can look back and realize you achieved the goal you had set. In that one small step, you were successful! So much more encouraging than beating yourself up for not having finished your masterpiece this month. (Again.)
Know your obstacles. What sorts of things will hinder you from accomplishing your goals? Are you addicted to social media? If so, you might want to consider closing all tabs that might draw you away from your writing. Turn your phone over and turn off the ringer, so you can’t see when you get your latest email or Twitter update. Do you have children that constantly knock on your door while you’re writing? What about a ‘Do not disturb’ sign? Maybe a literal one to hang on the door, or a symbol that tells your children they need to give you more time before interrupting you. ‘When I hang the red scarf on the back of my chair, please don’t disturb me unless it’s an emergency.’
**Note: Some of these obstacles may conflict with what those that you love and what they expect of you. Have necessary conversations to avoid a struggle down the road. If one of your obstacles is that you obsess over keeping the house clean, and you decide to relax a bit to make time for writing, be sure your spouse knows this so they don’t have the expectation that it will be done only by you. Ask for their understanding and support and see if they will contribute in a few areas so you can have more time to dedicate to writing.The bottom line, don’t sacrifice relationships with those you love because your goals are realistic for you, but not for those important in your life.
Take steps to overcome those obstacles. If social media is a distraction for you, designate one day per week where you only do marketing, so you won’t be tempted and get off track. Or set a timer so you don’t lose an hour or two that you hadn’t intended. If children are a distraction, identify your most productive time of day and fiercely protect that time as your own. If you don’t have a room dedicated to writing, create a work space that is your own – use a familiar mug that you drink your coffee in only when you write, decorate the space with encouraging words or pictures that will help set the tone for your session. Set deadlines to keep yourself moving.
The idea behind this is to create goals that you can attain and to feel successful. The more you focus on your desires and frustrate yourself, the more likely you are to allow outside distractions pull you from what you love. Writing.
Inspired to set some goals? What would you like to focus on in 2015? Feel free to comment below or message me with any questions you may have!!
Happy New Year, friends! 🙂