I am reading a lot of posts at the moment on various loops with people setting themselves goals for the year. It’s the time of the year when people do set their goals for all sorts of things, which is all very good. I think goal setting is essential to long term success, as long as you are sensible about it. Goals are a reflection of what we dream for ourselves – and if you are a creative person, you are already half way there because it is in your nature to dream.
However, the goals you make do need to be achievable to a certain extent, otherwise you are always going to fall short and fail at whatever it is you are trying. I really love this picture I found on dreamstime.com – it sums up completely how I think your goals should be set.
This being a writer’s blog, I am of course going to talk in relation to writing goals, but this is true for goal setting for any pursuit.
Goals like: I want to finish writing a novel/I want to enter a competition/I want to submit to an editor/agent are all good, reasonable goals that are all about head down bum up and personal determination. Goals like: I want to become a NYT best selling author or become a world famous author like JK Rowlings, are perhaps a little more out of your control. They still may be achievable, and certainly could/should be on your list as one of those pie in the sky kind of goals, but they shouldn’t be what makes up your list. Goals like: I want to get a perfect score/come first in that comp or have everyone love my books, are most likely not achievable as you can’t control how people are going to feel about your writing, no matter how good you get at it (case in point, this blog from NYT bestselling author, Nora Roberts).
I know when I started writing, one of my dreams was to be published and now that dream has come true after a lot of hard work and perseverence (head down, bum up). Now that dream has turned into being continuously published, having print books as well as digital and making a career of some sort out of my writing. This dream is part pie in the sky, part head down, bum up (fingers on keyboard). Pie in the sky, because some of it is beyond my direct control ( whether editors will continue to be interested in my writing and I’m writing something readers want to buy in an overcrowded market), head down bum up because I need to keep working at my writing, doing the actual writing, taking advice from my critique partners and writing groups and agent and working on that, building my author profile through social media etc etc etc. With perseverence and plenty of head down bum up, I should achieve the pie in the sky because my goal isn’t unreasonable and isn’t completely out of my control, and if traditional publishers won’t publish what I’m writing, I am educating myself about self publishing and will make certain I’m in a good position to give that the best go I can – and that is in my control. It speaks to the D.R.E.A.M picture above – I am dedicated to my writing, I am responsible about it (making sure I do it), I educate myself to improve and find out more about the industry, all of this indicates my attitude is good and I keep myself motivated to do it by being with and talking to others with similar goals and loves.
Some of the lists I’m reading about from other writers are a good mix of goals in the person’s control and a few pie in the sky ones thrown into the mix, but some are completely made out of pie in the sky – and in my experience, these last are the people who always end up giving up. I have to say I think this is because they can’t achieve any of their goals. A new writer saying they want to become a NYT bestselling author by the end of the year when they haven’t even submitted to an editor or finished their first manuscript is perhaps a goal that isn’t going to be reached. It would be like a 40 year old who had never run before saying they were going to win the 100m at the next Olympics. Very unlikely to happen unless your fairy godmother happened by and hit you with a zap of magic that gave you the legs of a champion runner half your age.
So, when goal setting, mix some sense in amongst your dreams.
I have to admit that I’m not in the mood for setting goals for the year to come right now. The last part of last year was pretty tough on the personal front and on the professional front and it’s really left me feeling drained, however, I do feel I need to give myself something to aim for. My overall goals haven’t changed – I want to write and edit up for submission a few more books and submit them and put this on repeat until I achieve my overall goal of an established, ongoing writing career – something that does seem to be a little more achievable now than it did part way through last year because I’ve recently been nominated as Best New Author on AusRom and have also made it into the finals for Best Paranormal Romance in the ARRA (Australian Romance Reading Association) awards – so people are liking what I write. Very nice to know. 🙂
So, that will continue to be my goal for this year on the writing front – at a minimum, finish writing the Dark Moon series (I’m editing up book 3, Blood Moon at the moment and have a few chapters of book 4, Ghost Moon, written) and finish writing the romantic suspense I’m working on and submit them to my agent. At a maximum I will also finish re-editing the first book in my Seer’s Blood series and resubmit that as well. Plenty to get on with, but it is achievable and working toward the ongoing goal.
How about you? What are your goals? And when setting them, remember to D.R.E.A.M big, but also dream sensible.