Blah, blah, blah New year's Resolutions, blah, blah, blah. You've already broken some, haven't you? A study out of University of Scranton (I know! Scranton really actually exists beyond The Office!) says that by this time in January approximately a THIRD of us have FAILED at our resolutions. One third. That's within the 2-4 week period after New Year's. And only 8% of resolution makers are successful in achieving their resolution.
Okay, before you go shove your mouth full of cake and give up on your publishing quest and writing resolutions… listen to this:
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Source
In other words, keep making resolutions and keep making GOALS as you are more likely to succeed.
But why do we fail and what can we do about it?
I'm so glad you asked.
5 Reasons We Need to Set Goals in Order to Succeed as Writers
1. We can be likely to take the path of least resistance (i.e. a tad lazy).
People who make goals (not talking resolutions now, just goals because goals are a PLAN, not a HOPE or a WISH) are 80% more likely to succeed. Goals are plans with timelines, and a specific end goal. When you make a goal you tell yourself some interesting things--and one of them is to get up and get moving. (A powerful way to achieve your goal is to remind yourself of that goal as soon as you get up in the morning--even before a cup of joe.)
How to succeed: Make a goal. Don't talk yourself out of it. Find a way to make it happen.
2. We get vague.
Written goals lead to conscious and an intentional working towards them. Why? Because we've had to write them down and in doing so we can see exactly what we need to get to and then automatically begin breaking down what we need in order to get there. It engages a part of our brain that says, "How do I…?" and "Why do I…?" and "What do I…". We get specific.
How to succeed: Write down your goals and be specific about what you want to accomplish at what level and by what date.
3. We get distracted.
Goals are plans. They are a way to stay on track by giving us something specific to work towards--especially if we check in on them regularly. Writing down our goals helps us focus on the steps to get to our goal.
How to succeed: check in with your goals on a regular basis to see how you are doing.
4. We shrug off our ideas and 'stuff.'
Goals can help us stay personally accountable as well as stay motivated in reaching our 'plan.' But it is easy to shrug it off when faced with diversions, failures, and roadblocks unless we make ourselves accountable on a larger (ego-smashing) level. In other words, find a goal buddy. Find someone to check in with--ideally someone who can be both encouraging as well as willing to give you a swift kick in the denim.
How to succeed: Social pressure. Make yourself socially accountable.
5. We fail to see how far we've come.
One of the coolest things about setting goals is watching your own progress. I used to write down HUGE goals and then only check in once a year. Oh, wow. Look all that failure in a three-ring binder. Ouch. Now, I have a notebook where I write down what I want to accomplish that week or day and I check off all the things I've done as well as keep stats on my platform growth. Looking in that book is the proof that I am actually getting somewhere. I can also feel the success (daily if I want). And that, in turn, spurs me towards more achievements. You could even say it is empowering and provides resilience.
How to succeed: Be kind, rewind. I mean, be kind to yourself if you fall down. Enjoy your successes.
Now that you've looked at goal setting from the write angle, what are your goals for 2013? What stands in your way? How do you plan to leap that hurdle? Share in the comment section.
(And by the way, how are those resolutions going?)
Jean Oram has set more goals than she has time to accomplish, but she is still happily blogging away about writing at Jeanoram.com as well as tweeting as @jeanoram. She has a post-apocalyptic chick lit short story, Crumbs, in The Fall: Tales From the Apocalypse.