Set a Goal You Can’t Miss

Once again for my ROW80 update, I have to report that I fell short of my goals. I’ve seen a lot of this with NaNoWriMo, too. And of course, we hear other people besides writers, having to-do lists and goals they can’t possibly accomplish in the time allotted.

I didn’t think my goals were unreasonable when I initially set them, yet I feel like I worked the past three days on this revision, and I still didn’t quite get through as much as I wanted. I got through Chapters 15 and 16, and almost got Chapter 17 revised – then I found one more scene, one that had been moved from earlier in the chapter. I also ran into a plot point that won’t work the way I wrote it, so I need to come up with something else. And the type-in? Stop laughing.

So this week, I want to set goals the Writers’ Boot Camp way. But the principle doesn’t just apply to writing, we can apply it to any big task. Writers’ Boot Camp is a workshop taught by author and former Army Ranger Todd Stone, and if you’re a writer and have the chance to take it, do it! He may even show up to teach the workshop in a camouflage kilt. 😀

Anyway, he started out the workshop talking about goals. Usually, we’re encouraged to set goals that are attainable, but not necessarily easily. Stone takes the opposite approach: he suggests setting a goal so low, you can’t help but make it! Here were the examples he gave:

Can you write a page a day? If you’re not sure, how about a paragraph? Or even a sentence???

Yes, that small. The thing is, we usually are able to go much further – so we get more done, AND we have that sense of accomplishment in saying Yes! I met my goal!

This could easily be applied to decluttering, getting your house in order, or working on a big project of another sort.

So I am going to set a small goal this week. I just can’t bring myself to say I’ll only revise one page, so I’ll go for that last remaining scene of Chapter 17, and the type-in of Chapter One.

How are you doing on your goals, whatever they may be? Have you ever tried this tactic? How did it work for you?

12 Responses to \

  1. That sounds like a good idea. I had a great day on Friday when I wrote beyond my goal. But, then yesterday I couldn’t get it done. I felt extra pressure as I sat and stared at the screen. All the time I had set aside for writing and not much came of it. I think it may have been the pressure of an unrealistic goal. I have to figure out how I can treat writing like it’s a job, but not crush myself under the weight of unrealistic goals.

  2. Emma, that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday! LOL The pressure isn’t helping me get the work done, so time to let up on it. Good luck to you!

  3. I’m a big believer in goal setting, Jennette, and I’ve tried all sorts of strategies. Like diets, they all work — but you have to actually do them to make it happen! 🙂 The “baby steps” approach has gotten me through many a project that I was procrastinating over. Thanks for suggesting it.

  4. Diane, isn’t that the truth! Even though I know baby steps work, it’s still easy to get caught up in all-or-nothing thinking. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I’ve heard of a method like that. It’s a good way to establish the positive and build on it at the same time. This may be just what the doctor ordered for you. Good luck!

  6. I have tried that tactic, but I also have to be reasonable in my goal setting. If I want to finish a novel by a certain day, then my daily/weekly goal has to be reasonable to meet that end goal. I know how long it’s taken me to finish a book, so I know what’s doable, thus I set my goals accordingly.

    Daily goals are great, but since I can’t always write every day (or the same amount every day), I stick with weekly. If I can make the average every day, great. If not, I don’t beat myself up. Weekends are perfect for catching up!

    I also know goals for writing are a heck of a lot different than goals for editing. Some pages need no work while others are bare bones. It’s hard to account for those. Good luck in finishing. I’m looking forward to reading your next book!

  7. Stacy, what you said is why I’ve been reluctant to try this – I’m afraid if I set it too low, I’ll never finish! I’m with you on the weekly, rather than daily, goals too – that always works better for me. When it’s a challenge is when there are too many other obligations on the weekend to catch up! I think you nailed why this whole revision thing is so tricky, too. Thanks for your encouragement!

  8. I think small steps is a great place to start. (This is actually a great tactic for paying off debt. Can you add $50 over your minimum payment? $25? Maybe just $10? Still, it’s something.)

    I like that my ROW80 list has a mixture of ambitious and small goals. I’m okay with not achieving everything, but I do want to see progress. I have indeed made progress thus far; however – like you – not as much as I had hoped. Best wishes!

  9. Yes, this definitely works. I always give myself a lot of goals in a weeks time.

    Last week, I gave myself only one… One that’s I’ve been ptuuing off for weeks because it was going to be really hard. You know what? It’s finally done, and my novel is now that much closer to being complete.

  10. @Julie – thanks for the reminder – we are not alone! 🙂

    Jennifer – Congrats on completing your tough goal – that’s exactly the sort of problem that hangs me up. Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. I really like the idea of setting small goals, especially when it comes to writing. I think that’s where NaNoWriMo goes wrong for some people. The goal is just too big and seems unattainable, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up. It’s better to develop a small daily habit than to try and cram a year’s worth of writing in a month. Great post!