Goaling to Success – Day 5

20 Jan

Poor Sabrina, the only one left posting – left to be the guinea pig 🙂

Today in some ways is the first really important post. Anyone can scrap together a list of things they’d like to do, but making that list into a true set of goals is where we jump into the new success realm.

And to do that, we need to make our goals SMART.

SMART: Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Timely

SPECIFIC – We talked a little about this already, but let’s talk more specifically about it. Yeah, I know. Groan.

Specific drills down. Every time you think you have a specific enough goal, run through the who/what/where/how/which/when type questions and see if you can get even more specific.

For example, writers always say “Finish the WIP” or “Write a book”

  • Write what book
  • About who
  • What genre
  • How are you planning on writing it
  • etc

So, instead of “Write a book” you might have something that looks more like, “Write the YA Historical Paranormal Shape Shifting Fairy Tale about the werewolf huntress in regency England” (that’s still getting worked on by the way *w*)


Being measurable is a positive move for several reasons. First, it makes  you really think hard about what you want. Do you want to “lose weight” or “be a size 8” – those are two different things. If I was a size 16 and lost 5lbs I’d have met the “lose weight” goal in all its glorious vagueness. But if I truly wanted to be a size 8, then that goal is still off in the distance a bit. If you don’t know where you’re going, what – you’re chasing – then how will you know what direction to run and when you’ve gotten there? Second, who doesn’t like to win. Having a measurable ending game allows you to win. Last year Mr. Gwen Hayes and I spent all day putting SIMS on my computer because Gwen enjoys it so much. I played it for about 15 mins and then asked, “How do you win?”

Well, as the self-competitive person that I am, you can imagine my response (and the time spent uninstalling all those new shiny files) when I found out you can’t win.

While not everything needs to be about winning, goals are. They are about winning the life you’ve pictured for yourself.


Let’s say my goal is, “Become a NYTBS author with my YA HPSSFT in 2011” – Yes it’s measurable (there’s a definite list and I have a deadline of the end of the year) – Yes, it’s specific (we know which book and we know which very clear list) – but is it attainable?

Um, no. Absolutely in no way is it attainable. We all know that there’s a long path from “start the book” to “NYTBS” – That book is going to need to get written, revised, edited, queried, agented, bought, revised and edited more, printed, promo’d and published. Not possible in the 11 months we have left.

But, let’s say my goals was “Write the YA Historical Paranormal Shape Shifting Fairy Tale about the werewolf huntress in regency England by 11/11/11”  it is most likely attainable. That’s where someone who knows my writing habits would have to push back. If my last book took 4 years and nothing in my life has changed, my goals buddy might say, “Um, really?” But, if I’ve made the commitment and the time, then here we go with the goal!


Realistic might feel the same as attainable, but it’s not. There are attainable goals that aren’t realistic. You COULD write 3 books this year, but will you? The could is Attainable. The but will you is Realistic. You need to look at each goal, each sub-goal, and ask yourself not only is it doable, but is it doable for you?


There are two ways to look at Timely.

One: Is this the time to be doing it? For example, let’s say one of your goals is to query your top 20 agents… but the book isn’t done. Well, you’re doing it at the wrong time, right?

Second: is it time grounded. I will be a size 8…one day? Or I will fit into my size 8 jeans by September 21st? For a goal to be really strong, there needs to be an end date. If not, it’s just floating around out there as a One Day type of dream. Dreams are great, but goals are dreams in action.

So, look at your goals list and make each line SMART. It takes some practice, but don’t give up. You’ll also start to see if your list may be too heavy. If you know it takes 6 months to write a book (for you) and you list 3 books to write this year, slotting that Timely and Realistic will have you rethinking those.


3 Responses to “Goaling to Success – Day 5”

  1. Amanda Hoving January 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    Oh, all good advice! I particularly need to work on “realistic.” My daydreams of writing grandeur often get the better of me 😉

  2. briaq January 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    I think we all do! I know I do *blush*

    That’s why writing them out and squeezing them in a timeline is always good for me 😉

  3. Sabrina January 21, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    This is my lunch assignment today. Enjoying every minute of this and think it will be immensley helpful!

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