One of the most important parts of organizing your life is establishing goals. You probably have plenty to organize already, but I firmly believe that one should always be working on one’s self, too, in little increments.
Goals are slippery things. We chase them and chase them, but sometimes if we fail or fail to see measurable success, we let them go. The reason we do this is because our goals are not smart.
As in SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
There are plenty of posts out there that go into detail about these, but I’ll give some examples.
Some examples of SMART goals:
I want to write 100 words per day for the next year to help me achieve more discipline in writing. (Not: I want to write more.)
I want to go to yoga once a week for the next month, then twice a week for the month after that, so that I can become flexible enough to touch my toes. (Not: I want to be fitter.)
I want to spend 30 minutes a day reading a nonfiction book for the next six months so that I can become conversational about new topics. (Not: I want to read more.)
You get the point.
Progressing from dreams to SMART goals
Remember my love for my Passion Planner? Well, this is part of the reason. The Passion Planner has a great method for goal-setting, and The Professional Student has a great run-through of the process:
Basically, the Passion Roadmap method involves jotting down short- and long-term dreams, choosing the most important of them, and listing out the steps to achieve them. Passion Planner has free downloads available for all their planners, and if you download one of the “full” PDFs, you can view and print the Roadmap and try it out yourself (it’s located in the very front).
Here’s a photo of mine:
The goal I started out with was: Get a traditional publishing deal. The due date was December 31st, 2016.
Then followed a game of, “well, what do I need to do for that?”
Finish book > rewrite book > edit book > find beta readers or hire a professional editor > edit book again > research agents and query letters > write a query letter > query agents > get offer for representation > get publishing deal.
Then came the breakdown of those steps even further. What did I need to do to finish my book?
I needed to write 70,000 more words of a draft, at a rate I knew I could sustain (1,000 words a day). I could’ve set the completion date for my draft of the book at March 11th, 70 days after my Passion Roadmap began. To be safe, I gave myself till May 8th.
What then? I calculated the word count I should be at for every week. 15,000 on Jan 2, 21,000 on Jan 9, etc. etc. I filled in those checkpoints on my calendar so that when I opened up a new spread every week, I knew exactly what I was shooting for.
Recently (although I should have done this much earlier), I actually went through my weekly schedule and blocked off time for writing. 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Scheduling time for your goals is just as important as scheduling appointments, events, and everything else.
The only thing that’s left after that is to actually do the thing you’ve said you’re going to do. If you fail, you try again. If you succeed, you celebrate and then move on to the next step in the plan and break it down.
These steps can be applied to any goal, not just writing–other goals just require a different setting-up of steps and a different quantifying of the goals. Maybe someday soon I’ll do a complete, in-depth rundown of my plan.
See you tomorrow for letter F!