6 Simple Secrets to Making Goals You’ll Reach


Resolutions! Goal-setting! Accomplishments! A new year invites us to plan for our future. We writers have lofty goals. We want to write books, articles, poems, and screenplays that will entertain and inspire the world for generations to come.

But everyone knows that wanting to do a thing is very different from doing it. Setting a goal without a plan of action for reaching it is the sort of good intention that paves the way to hell.

To kick off the new year, consider these 6 simple secrets of setting a reachable goal.

2.  Include Yourself. You should feature prominently in your goal.  If you’re tempted to say your goal is: “Complete at least 5 articles for publication in magazines with a circulation of over 250,000,” reconsider, because you aren’t mentioned anywhere. It’s as if your goal exists without you.  Beginning a goal with phrases such as “I will…” or “I commit to…” keep you connected with your dream from the beginning.

3.  Be Responsible. “I will sign with an agent” and “I will sell my manuscript” are worthy aspirations but they make lousy goals. You cannot take responsibility for making them happen. Which means that you place your ability to reach your goals in the hands of someone else.

Make your goals something you alone can accomplish.  Goals such as: “I will research and query 5 agents every month until I sign with one” or “each month, I will identify and contact at least 3 acquisitions editors of publishers in my genre until I have made a sale” mean the responsibility for making them happen is entirely up to you.

4.  State Your Steps. Once you have spelled out your Grand Goal, identify the process you will follow to reach it. For instance, if your goal is to write and edit a full-length novel before the end of the year, you might break it into the following 12 monthly steps:

JAN:  Outline entire project and begin required research.
FEB:  Write the hook, complete required research, create character notes.
MARCH – JULY: Write 20,000 words / month (5,000 words / week) until project is completed (100,000 word total).
AUG:  Read and edit first 50,000 words. Solicit criticism on the edited draft.
SEPT:  Read and edit final 50,000 words. Solicit criticism on the edited draft.
OCT:  Rewrite. Incorporate necessary changes.
NOV:  Polish prose until squeaky clean.
DEC:   Edit for grammar and punctuation.

5.  Know Your Penalty. Determine a suitable act of penance if for any reason you fail to meet your goal. It should be significant enough to motivate you to pursue your dream, but not something that demoralizes or depresses you. It should also be non-negotiable.

For instance, consider donating $100 to your favorite charity every month that you miss completing a “step” or making a $1000 donation at year’s end if the goal remains unmet. That way, even if you don’t do what you’d planned, your quest still holds great meaning and you still get to be a hero.

6.  Plan for Success. Set your sights upon a worthy reward for making your goal.  A mini-vacation, a night out on the town, signing up for lessons to learn something you’ve always wanted, or a (within reason) shopping spree might be appropriate. The key is to not allow yourself to indulge until your goal is achieved. Then the taste of success is doubly sweet.

So there you have it: start with a specific goal that you have the power to make happen, then devise a step-by-step plan, a penalty for falling short, and a reward for hitting the mark. See? Simple!

Why not take a few moments to share your goals for the following year below? Here’s wishing you every success in your writing endeavors.

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Contributor: Janet Morris Grimes

Woody Allen puts it this way, “80% of success is showing up.”

Though I do not seek the wisdom of Woody on a regular basis, I think he got this one right. It matters not what he was referring to at the time. Exercise? Cooking? Spirituality? Financial Planning? Education? Marriage? Parenting? Absolutely, it applies to all of these and more.

He is not saying that I will be 80% successful if I show up, but rather that by simply making the commitment to show up on a daily basis is 80% of the battle. The remaining 20% can never happen if I fail to show up. Hoping for success in any area of my life is futile if I abstain from the journey.

If I long to be a better mother, I need to be there. A better wife? Show up, even when I may not feel like it. A graduate? I must go to class. A millionaire? Well, first, I need more money, but then I must make an effort every day to manage it effectively.

This principle is so true when it applies to writing. I am convinced that both starting and finishing a new project are the hardest steps in the process, but neither of these can happen if I fail to show up. I make an appointment with my chair at the same time each day, setting daily and weekly goals. I allow room for chasing down unforeseen opportunities and inspirational moments. I map out a plan to be creative, confirming my goals and recognizing that those who get stuck are the ones who are not sure of what they truly want to say. Or more importantly, why they want to say it.

That first and last 10% of my projects continue to taunt me, daring me to plunge deep enough to discover them. But with every day I add to my “perfect attendance” record, the stronger I become, the more I learn, and the journey to success becomes its own reward.

Success waits for me in the future. I’m sure of it, as long as I continue to show up every day. Because the best part about my future is that I still get to write it.

But if I fail to show up, it will remain unwritten.

About Janet

Janet is a writer, wife and mother of three who recently relocated to Canton, MI from Nashville, TN through her husband’s job transfer. After finding herself unemployed for the first time since she was fifteen years old, she admits that her dreams of writing finally wrestled her to the ground to the point of surrender. She is currently working on her first book project for Atlantic Publishing, and has several more projects on the horizon. Janet also writes about health and beauty, her latest article is on as how to treat pimples (beauty). Janet is also the manager of a review site about inversion tables, which deals with treating back pain.