Monday Minute is a weekly post in which I’ll share short writing pieces, writing prompts, a thought or question for discussion, or quick writing tips. I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and talk about the cliché topic of New Year resolutions.
If 2014 has taught me anything, it’s that to accomplish things we need achievable goals. Those goals require careful planning and thought, so this year I’m taking the time to think about my writing goals, specifically what’s important to me and how I’m going to accomplish those goals.
There’s a lot of advice on goal-setting but one really useful method I know of is the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. It’s an acronym used in project management and personal development. I thought I’d share it with you below.
Specific: The objective is clear and specific rather than ambiguous and general. For example, one of my writing goals is to complete one of my fan fiction stories by the end of February. So, I’d start with a specific goal like “Complete a fan fiction story.”
Measurable: A goal must also be measured. This means that we need things like measures of progress, deadlines and indicators of success. For me, I would expand on my goal above and say, “Complete a fan fiction story by writing a minimum of 500 words daily.”
Attainable: The goal must not only be specific and measurable but achievable as well. Ask yourself: Is this realistic? Can I accomplish this? That’s why I set a minimum of 500 words daily: it’s not too small and not too large. Reaching 1, 000 + words a day consistently can be difficult, especially with other constraints or priorities.
Relevant: Your goal should be relevant and meaningful. What will accomplishing this goal do for you? For me, completing a fan fiction story may seem trivial and meaningless to some but I see it as a way to discipline myself, to consider my readers and to feel proud of an accomplishment.
Timely: The goals should be time-bound, meaning that you have to set a target date or deadline. This helps you focus your efforts, using a marker of time to move you along. I think this is why writing challenges like NaNoWriMo work so well. My goal would then look like this, “Write a minimum of 500 words daily to complete my fan fiction story by the end of February 2015.”
I find this approach definitely helps you focus your goals in a more organized fashion. I’ve used it in school and in the workplace. It gives you an idea of what exactly you’re trying to accomplish, how you’re measuring your success, whether it’s realistic and attainable, how it will be beneficial and advantageous to you, and when you’ll accomplish this goal.
What are your goals for 2015? Any New Years’ resolutions?