Setting Goals for 2014

I love goals.  They are the things that help me focus on what I want to accomplish.  I think if we’re going to look at writing as a business, we need to have some goals.  The good news is, each goal can be tailored to your specific situation.

With that in mind, here’s a list of things I’d like you to consider…

1.  When we’re looking at goals to set for next year, the key is to pick things we have control over.  

A goal that says, “I will make it to the Top 100 Kindle Paid List on Amazon” is not something we can control.  While it would be nice, it’s something others have to do for us.  So what I like to do is pick things that I have a 90% chance of making.  These are things that you can do.  While I might not be able to make my book sell so well it hits the Top 100 Kindle Paid List, I can write four novels in a year.

And yes, I think writing them down and keeping them in a notebook, folder, binder, or even on the wall in front of you is an excellent idea.  People who write goals are more likely to keep them.  Also, the more specific you are, the better.  For example, “I will write 2000 words five days a week.” That equals out to 10,000 words a week.  If you include, “I will write 500 words in a half hour, and I will write from 1-2 and again from 7-8 with no TV or other distractions,” you can realistically make such a goal.  Or, if you don’t like the idea of writing that many words, something like, “I will sit down with no distractions for 1 hour 3 times a week and write.  When I’m done, I’m done.”

2.  Find ways to get your social marketing life in order.

This can be a tricky one, but I find scheduling for these things can remove a lot of stress from the whole thing.  Pick a time when you’ll be answering emails, when you’ll be participating in a discussion board, when you’ll be on Facebook or Twitter, etc.  Whatever time limit you impose on yourself, stick with it.  You can set a timer to let you know when time is up or watch the clock.  Either way, you don’t want to waste so much time doing the social marketing thing that you neglect to do your job, which is to write.  (Even if you have a day job that pays the bills, I think it’s helpful to treat writing like it is another job. And it’s a job you enjoy, which makes it even better.)

So here are some ideas I gathered from other people on how to make your social marketing life easier:

  • Dedicate one hour each morning to answering emails.  When you’re done, don’t go back to them until tomorrow.
  • Spend only 15 minutes on Facebook on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  (Hint: avoid browsing through pictures or playing their games.  Those things are way too addicting.)
  • Spend the first Saturday of the month writing four blog posts and schedule each blog post for each week in the month.
  • Retweet two interesting tweets you found on Twitter on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • There are other things you can do.  But you get the idea.

Make a list of your social marketing goals and check them off as you finish them for each week/month.

3.  Challenge Yourself

We might not be able to reach all our goals, but I think it’s important to present a challenge so we have something to aim for.  For example, if you are used to writing one book a year, then maybe a good goal would be, “I’ll write two books this year.” Now, these don’t both have to be full-length novels.  Maybe one is a novella and the other is a novel.  By adding a little bit more as a challenge, you are opening yourself to more opportunities for growth.

4.  Don’t forget goals to cover other areas of your life.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in working (aka writing) that we neglect the other areas of our lives that are also important.  Our personal relationships, our health, our spirituality, and our finances are just some areas we should consider.   I think when other areas of our live are thriving, our writing will be better.  Some of the goals I have down are “Get at least seven hours of sleep each night,” “walk for 30-45 minutes at least three times a week,” and “eat one fruit salad and one vegetable salad a day.” These might not directly impact writing, but since I’ve been doing them, I feel much more focused and energetic when I write.  You’ll notice on those goals I listed, I’m specific about them.  I give a number with them, such as “seven” hours of sleep each night.  The numbers make the goals more obtainable.

So think of some other areas you’d like to improve.  Perhaps it’s talking to a loved one on the phone for 30 minutes one time a week or baking one new dish a week.  Whatever it is, it should be something that will benefit you in your personal situation.

5.  Make Good Habits Out of Your Daily Goals

I read that it takes 21 days of doing something to form a new habit.  So I suggest writing down a list of daily goals.  I’d keep this list short.  This list should have at least one thing on it that has to do with writing or marketing.  The key to the daily goals is to form good habits that can help you improve your overall life while helping your writing business.

A sample of this might be:

  • From 9-10am, read and answer emails.  (this is a marketing goal.)
  • Eat one vegetable and one fruit salad. (taking care of your health)
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep. (taking care of your health)
  • Read 1 bedtime story to my kids. (building personal relationships)

6.  Make Weekly Goals

These are easier to fit the writing goals into.  I know some people can write every day, but this isn’t the case with me.  It’s easier to think of writing in terms of weekly goals.  I think that’s the best way to avoid writer burn-out.  Also, sometimes it’s necessary to take a vacation from writing to rest the mind.  So the weekly goals aren’t necessarily set in stone but should be part of the routine.

Here’s a sample:

  • Walk 30-45 minutes/3 days a week. (taking care of your health)
  • Write 2000 words/5 days a week. (allowing for some rest time)
  • Blog 2 posts a week.  (marketing goal)
  • Spend 15 minutes on Facebook/3 days a week (marketing goal)
  • Answer friends’ blog posts/2 days a week (personal relationship goal)

7.  You can also make monthly and a goal for the year, too.

The further out you go, the harder it is to be specific, but I do like monthly and a year list of goals.

Monthly goal sample:

  • Start New Book on May 15 (writing goal)
  • Read Book X by Author Y (could be business related or personal relaxation based on the kind of book it is)
  • Take Mom out to Lunch (personal relationship goal)
  • Outline Next Book (writing goal)

Yearly goal sample:

  • Write and publish four full-length books. (writing goal)
  • Attend at least one writer’s conference (writing/marketing goal)
  • Lose 20 pounds (health goal)
  • Go on vacation with the family (personal relationship goal)

The further out I go in writing goals, the more vague I get.  It’s easier to be specific in the daily and weekly goals.

Of course, none of the goals are set in stone.  That’s why I suggest going back and evaluating your progress every couple of months.  I’ll make a post about that soon.  The next post, though, is on forming a routine.

24 Comments

  1. Elke Feuer says:

    Great post, Ruth(Ann)! I love what you said about being specific. So true. I used to set goals like ‘I will be a published author’, but it wasn’t until I started saying ‘I will submit three query letters a month’ that I got published.

    The same was true about thinking of my writing as a career and business. I wouldn’t have gotten this far if I hadn’t created a business plan.

    My next step is doing a better job with my personal goals. 🙂

    1. Same here on the general goals. I used to have, “I’ll write this week.” But when I didn’t set a word count goal for the day, it was harder to make any notable progress.

      That’s awesome that you got published. 😀

      I love the business plan idea. That’s something I haven’t sat down and written out yet, but it’s what I want to have before January 1.

      Good luck on your personal goals.

  2. Specific and obtainable goals…you can’t beat that. And I’m really going to work on setting those next year. I already started with putting a deadline on finishing my WIP this year, and I did it.

    I realize that your goals won’t be the same as other people’s goals, but I wanted to mention this just as food for thought. To me, answering emails and being on Facebook should take more time than what you are allowing. For ME, that is. In order to be effective when marketing on FB, I think I pretty much have to STAY out there. I don’t mean constantly commenting, but popping in and out all day. This might not work for everyone, but I have to. I used to balk about being on FB at all, but I saw a friend’s business explode just by being on FB and interacting with the right people. Business is so good that she can barely keep up with it. That’s what I want for me. And I keep plugging along. LOL. Also, I keep my email up all day. I check it from time to time. If it’s not important, I save it for later. But if it is, then I’m there to answer it when it needs to be answered. For some people, though, and this might be true with you, those things are such a distraction that you can’t get your work done. We all just have to decide what to do.

    I truly hope you don’t take all that as me disagreeing with you. Although, it kind of is. LOL. But, seriously, what works for one person might not work for the next person. I just wanted to throw that out there since I’ve seen FB (and emails BECAUSE of FB interaction) really grow a business. I definitely agree that setting time limits can help you stay organized. My time limits are just different.

    I love that your goals include other things besides writing/work. For instance, walking or spending time with people you love. Our physical and mental health relates directly with how well we can write. You hit that nail right on the head.

    On the “attend one writers’ conference”…I wish you would come to RNC. 🙂

    Thank you so much for these posts! They are so helpful in reminding me about goal setting. If I had done more of that this year, I might have written two books instead of one. This is the first year I only wrote one book. 😦

    1. Feel free to disagree all you want. 😀 The examples I gave were examples, not things I expect everyone to do. At the end of my “Tracking Your Progress” post (which is scheduled on Dec. 23) I mention how important it is that we find our way of best doing things. We shouldn’t base our writing and marketing schedules according to what someone else does. We are all different. For me, Facebook and emails are draining. They wear me out because it’s hard to think of what to say. I worry I’ll sound stupid. I can spend at least five minutes working on one single Facebook comment because I keep rewriting something. Emails are worse. I can spend all day on You Tube or the Kindleboards if I don’t put a limit on how long I’m there. But You Tube and Kindleboards don’t require me to participate (and potentially look like an idiot). 😀

      What I think is important is setting down the time that is best for each activity that fits your situation. I’m hoping the goals I outlined can be flexible enough to work with anyone. I go into setting routines in my next post (which should be out on Wednesday, if I remember right). I don’t remember if I said it or not, but anything can be used in the routine. It’s not a question of what you do but how long you want to do it. 😀

      Is the RNC going to be in Vegas again? I’ll have to see if I can get my friend to tag along. I don’t like going to conferences alone. Right now we’re looking at possible places to go next year.

      1. I think you worry too much about what to say. You NEVER sound stupid. 🙂 You’re right that we all have to decide how to use our time. The important thing is to set the goals, whatever they are.

        Yes, RNC will be in Vegas again.I had fun, but I usually left the parties early. I enjoyed the classes a lot.

        1. The classes look good from what I saw on the website. I have to see how it works for my husband and author friend. I wish it was during the school year. I have more luck getting my husband to watch the kids when they spend most of their days in school. 😀

  3. I can no longer put off specifying goals. I promise in the New Year Ill not only be specific but will stick to my goals. I have a terrible habit of getting side-tracked. Thanks for this post. 😛

    1. Getting side-tracked is way too easy. Each morning, I need to write down what I want to do for the day. If I don’t, I end up in trouble. 😀

      1. Like I said earlier, I must be more specific. A new To-Do list every day is in my future. Ha ha. Thanks for the Aha Moment. 😛

        1. I hope the specifics help out. 😀

          1. Me toooooooooooooooo.;-)

  4. This sounds like a good plan. I’m willing to give it a shot….

    1. I hope it helps. I recently came across the idea of forming good habits out of goals and how to work a routine into the daily schedule. This is new territory for me and I am organizing my binder to get ready to implement things on January 1.

  5. Cat Lumb says:

    This is a great post to remind us to set goals with parameters that we have control over. I totally agree.

    However, that being said goals can get TOO specific sometimes:
    “I will write 500 words in a half hour, and I will write from 1-2 and again from 7-8 with no TV or other distractions,”
    If I set this goal and didn’t make that 500 word target, or something happened one day that made me miss those writing slots I would feel that I had not accomplished this goal.
    I would recommend the slightly broader ones you suggested – ‘write a number of words per day\week’
    This takes into account bad writing days, unexpected events and still holds us accountable for our achievements.

    Goals can be very good motivators and it’s important to set ones that CAN be achieved to keep the positive momentum. Great reminders of that here.
    Thanks,
    Cat

    1. Good point. Real life pops up and it’s not always easy to write. I wrote nothing last week because I got sick and was helping a friend with her book. All of my writing goals flew out the window. But I am the type of person who needs to set aside a specific time to write because if I don’t, I’ll procrastinate all day. Other people will be more disciplined.

      I think regardless of what our goals are, we won’t meet them 100% of the time. I think an overall 85% match to the goals over the course of a month is a good rule of thumb. If that percentage can be reached, I’m satisfied. For someone else, the percentage might be different.

      In addition to setting goals, I am also going to look at finding a workable routine (which I expect will take trial and error). I have scheduled two posts in the upcoming weeks to address routines and tracking our progress. I don’t expect the goals and routines to work right away. Maybe they will for some, but I’m sure I’ll need to tweak mine. 😀 What I’m hoping is that during the course of next year, the goals, routines, and tracking progress will help us learn what works best for us in our individual situations.

  6. dotstry says:

    More than just good advise — made me think about goals that I am currently pursuing and how to accomplish my goals. Thanks

    1. Thank you. I hope you’re able to accomplish them. 😀

  7. As I began to consider my 2014 goals, I also began a search for good articles, ones with meat in them and something to help the writer who had never sat down and created solid writing goals. Today I found you! And this post — just what I needed. I also notice there is a wealth of other information here. I’ll be hanging around to pick up all the tips I can. Thanks for being willing to share your expertise.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad to hear that. 😀 I hope you’ll find the other articles on here useful, too.

  8. M T McGuire says:

    I love the plan. I’ve been trying that, myself. Gym 3 times a week, social networking/emails for the first hour and at least one hour of focused writing (if at all possible) each week day, extra blog posts or review posts in times of blockage!
    Cheers

    MTM

    1. If I get stumped while writing, I’ll write blog posts and schedule them for the future. At least it’s something productive. I hate sitting at a computer and staring at the screen.

      Since you’ve been going to the gym, have you felt like you’ve had more energy? I loved walking for that reason. Now that it’s colder out, I’ve had to resort to my indoor bike or shoveling to keep exercising. I’m looking forward to spring so I can get back out. I love hiking on nature trails more than anything else.

      1. M T McGuire says:

        I definitely have more energy. I originally started it because my dodgy knee was getting too much and I thought I needed to do some strengthening exercises. I got knocked off my bike by a car the day after I joined and now I have a matching set of crap knees but after 2 months, restarted at the gymn and boy yes, it’s really worked. I get less cold, that’s the real thing I notice and I have had a couple of pain free days and I can kneel down for the first time in 7 years. So to be honest I’m not sure if I have more energy, per se or whether it’s just caused by my insane happiness.

        Cheers

        MTM

        1. Yikes on the car knocking you off your bike! That’s awful.

          I’m glad the exercising has paid off. I hadn’t thought there might be a connection with exercise and feeling warmer, but it makes sense.

          I’m happy to hear your knees are feeling better. 😀

          1. M T McGuire says:

            Thanks. The bike thing wasn’t so bad, we were very lucky. Happy New Year.

            Cheers

            MTM

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