As I write, it is my birthday. No gifts, please! By the time this appears on the blog, I will be into this new year by two days. Maybe because my birthday falls near the end of the year, maybe because I am somehow hardwired to look into the future and consider change, I always see my special day not (just) as a celebration of life, but as a milestone/measurement and a reason (excuse?) to examine that special subject I love….making, meeting, breaking and beating GOALS.
Not too long ago, one of my co-bloggers addressed the subject of goal making and several commenters reminded me that I’ve given a writer’s workshop on goalsetting, and one astute reader/visitor mentioned that she had held onto a handout from that workshop — which I no longer had. I promised to post some of my “Goal Making Tips” in time for those of you who spend December thinking about goal setting instead of gift buying. (Both of you. You know who you are.)
All right, all right. Truth out. I’m a goal junkie. I’m task oriented to a fault, an objective-meeting, race-running list-maker who gets almost as much pleasure out of crossing something off than actually *doing* it. This personality trait has a downside, believe me — life can be spent in a constant state of “yeah, but, I never did….” But it has a good side, too. I’ve got my eyes on the prize, whether it is a glass of wine at the end of a 3,000 word day or a new contract.
I won’t give the entire workshop here, but I will share some of my major points, many of them learned from the great and brilliant Debbie Macomber — an overachiever if there ever was one! — as well as a mentor and a “goalie” for me for many years. (A goalie is a friend who helps you keep track of your goals. More on that in a second.)
But here’s the heart and soul of the workshop, and I hope it will help some of you as we near that time of year we junkies revere and have adopted as our own, New Years Day.
1. First of all, a goal is not a dream. It is attainable solely by your own hands and it is in your control. Getting an editor to buy your manuscript or readers to buy your book aren’t goals, no matter how much they feel like they are. Submitting your manuscript to a specific number of editors or finishing back to back books in your fantastic series are goals.
2. Don’t just jot your goals down in five minutes like a shopping list — really consider what they are important, how much you want something and are willing to sacrifice to get it, and what it will take from you to reach that goal. Debbie Macomber says it should take one whole day to “do” your goals for the following year, and she recommends talking your goals over with someone you love, someone who knows what you are (and aren’t!) capable of accomplishing.
3. This one is (allegedly) scientifically proven: when you record your goals, you have a far, far greater chance of achieving them than if you simply think about what you want. Get a notebook, journal, dry erase board, something that will help you see and track your goals, making them so much more tangible and real.
4. In the case of goals, quantity matters as much as quality. A goal should be measurable with specific numbers — this is such a great trick to know. The goal isn’t “write more pages” it is “write 10 pages per day.” The goal isn’t “enter contests” it is “enter six contests in twelve months.” A goal, generally, has a quantitative element to it.
5. After you record your goals, keep them somewhere you will see often, like right over your computer or in a notebook you actually open on a weekly basis. Every single month at a minimum, you should study those goals and consider your progress. If you wait six or eight months, they will seem like strangers to you.
6. Accountability is key. Have a “goalie” you meet or talk with monthly to help each other track progress against goals. This really makes a difference. You are far more likely to meet your goals if someone else knows what they are. When Debbie Macomber, Martha Powers and I meet every January to review goals, the first thing we do is look at last year’s to measure how well we did. That’s the celebration segment of our lunch. Over dessert, we review next year’s goals.
7. Structure your goal list in “life segments” — health, career, family, relationships. This really helps you focus on what’s important, as well as to recognize that each aspect of your life has its own priorities, and objectives.
8. Do one task every single day, first thing in the morning, that’s on your goal list. Never miss, make it a habit. Glance at your goals and do just ONE thing that helps you meet them before you get into the day. Trust me, this works.
9. Don’t think of meeting your goals as a chore, think of them as the most fun thing you do all day. They are your life, not your laundry!
10. This is my favorite tip, and this one isn’t just for goals, it’s for dreams: Visualize. This is the powerful, potent, proven tool of sports psychologists, the strong advice of some of the most successful people in the world. Visualize yourself achieving your goal, experiencing your dream. I’m a huge believe in visualization — I could do a whole blog on the topic. When you go to sleep, don’t stress about what hasn’t been done that day, imagine the sensation when you get “the call” — picture where you are, what the phone feels like in your hand, the sound of your agent’s voice when she breaks the news. Imagine the feel of the podium in your hands, the blinding stagelights when you accept your Rita. Go ahead, visualize the ink of the New York Times Sunday Book Review that stains your fingertips when you open it and stare at your name on the list. Experts will tell you this technique is very effective. (Anybody read THE SECRET??? This is the essence of the book.)
Got any goal setting tips of your own? Please share!