How to ensure you reach/achieve your writing goals

By Ruth Barringham

If you’re anything like me you have multiple goals for your life. We all want to achieve things whether it’s getting more exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking, being a better parent, eating healthily, spending more time with our family, saving more, spending less.... the list goes on.

And do you know why so many people, in fact most of us, fail to reach our goals?

Because they’re not goals. They are merely resolutions which means they’re not concrete and not actionable.

Usually people make resolutions at the beginning of every New Year, or should I say at the end of every old year, and they’re usually something like:

  • Lose weight
  • Set up a money-making website
  • Write a book a month

And while these are noble resolutions they are completely unachievable which is probably why they’ll fail.

So what makes them unachievable?

They have no actionable steps. They also have no starting point and no end goal. So how can you do something if you don’t know how you’re going to do it or where to start or what your end goal is?

Just look at the first resolution, ‘lose weight’ for example. For a start, there’s no set amount of weight to lose. There’s also no time frame. How quick do you want to lose the weight? Also there’s no day-by-day instruction of how to do it.

So what if you said you wanted to lose 20kg in 6 months. That would be more doable but it still doesn’t tell you how to do it or where to start.

A better way would be to say you want to lose 20kg in 6 months by cutting out fried foods, having more vegetables on your plate with every meal and only having fruit for snacks. That’s doable and it’s a plan to follow, plus if you find it’s not working you can alter it to something more suitable.

Let’s also look at the resolution of ‘write a book a month’. Again, there’s no actionable steps. But with this goal, you also might not know where to start or what to do, unlike losing weight where we all know what to do, we just don’t want to do it.

So if you want to write a book a month, you might start by taking a course in how to do it.

You could also read a couple of books about how to write a book quickly. You’d also need to know what types of books you wanted to write and what would be the word count.

You’d also need to figure out where you’d find the time to write (J K Rowling wrote her second Harry Potter book in her lunch breaks at work), how long you could write every day, whether to write by hand or straight to keyboard, and whether to outline your books first or not.

You see, whatever it is that you want to do, you need a plan that you can follow, not just a goal, otherwise it’s just a resolution because it isn’t actionable.

Once you have your plan and you start working it, you can make adjustments as needed - and this is necessary because no plan is perfect, especially if you’re trying to do something you’ve never done before, like write a book a month.

The important thing, is that once you start working your plan, stay on track and never think of quitting.

And only have one goal for each area of your life at a time otherwise you’ll overwhelm yourself.

Just remember that sacrifice will be necessary. You can’t eat cream cakes AND lose weight, and you can’t watch 5 hours of TV every night AND write a book every month.

The good news, is that you’re completely in control of your time and your actions. So it’s up to you how you use them.

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