Showing posts with label SMART goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SMART goals. Show all posts

When New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

Usually, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I never keep them.  This year I decided I’d make one resolution.  It seemed like an easy one to keep.  My resolution was to give up my gym membership by the end of January.  I had joined the gym in July with every intention of working out twice a week.  I didn’t show up in July or August or September.  As a matter of fact, as December rolled around 'I had not yet stepped into the gym'.  Why didn’t I cancel my membership?  Because each month I thought, this is the month I would get on track.  So by the end of December, cancelling my membership seemed like an easy resolution.  Unfortunately it took me to the beginning of March to cancel my membership.  I have a busy life and resolutions don’t work for me.  That said, when I clearly define a goal that is important to me, I have learned how to support my goal.

If your writing life is stuck, maybe it is time to step back and redefine what it is that you want to achieve.  Why are you writing?  What are your goals?  Dig deep and determine what it is that you really want. Once you are clear on your true desire, I have found that the following strategies will support achieving your goal.
1.       Define your desire as a SMART goal.  Setting a goal that is Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and realistic, and Time bound is the first step to success.

2.       Have daily visual reminders of your goal.  Daily visibility is a key to success.  Use post-it notes on your bathroom mirror or have a vision board above your desk.  You can also set your goal as a daily alert on your phone.  It’s easy to forget about your goal, if you don’t see it each day.

3.       Identify a goal buddy to help hold you accountable for your progress.  Having someone to check in with each week will nudge you towards your goal.  Sometimes it’s not an individual but a critique group which holds you accountable for your writing goals. If you don't have a critique group and you can’t identify someone you know as a goal buddy, consider joining one of the following online communities.

               i. is an online community that matches you with a goal buddy who is striving to achieve a similar goal.

             ii.      Habitforge has an online community and potential for a goal buddy, it is also designed for someone who wants to work on their own.  Habitforge provides daily email encouragement related to your goal.

4.       Track your progress.  You can also use software to keep your goals on track.

               i.       Lifetick is a goal tracking program.  It not only helps you track your goals but allows you to invite others to view your progress.  If you have identified a goal buddy, this is a great way to track each other’s progress and hold each other accountable.

              ii.      Goals on Track is a goal setting software that will help you set SMART goals and track progress. It works with IPhones and androids and best of all it’s free.

5.       Use negative incentives.  Sometimes we need something a little stronger to nudge us on our writing journey.  Try stickK—A commitment contract designed to help people achieve their goals.  According to stickK, people don’t always do what they claim they want to do and incentives get people to do things.  They have found that having a financial stake increases your chances of success up to 3x and having someone as a referee to monitor your progress increases your success 2x.  StickK asks users to sign a binding contract where they commit money that they lose if they don’t achieve their goal.  This is definitely for someone who needs a stick instead of a carrot.

Try a few of the strategies above and your goal just might become reality.  If you have other strategies you use to achieve your goals, I would love to hear from you.

Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, educator, and life coach.   For more information check out

On the writerly resolution

I'm not really a resolution type girl. I prefer goals. SMART goals - that is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Goals can be worked towards - they aren't necessarily met or not met. Instead we use them as roadmaps and progress towards their achievement. If you have a goal to write 12 chapters and only write 6, you haven't failed, you've written 6 chapters. So, as we are now in January 2014, I thought it might be right to define a few writerly goals rather than resolutions that we can all work towards in our writing practice.  There is no non-achievement here.  Every step along the way is to be congratulated.  Here are my five goals for 2014. Maybe they'll resonate with you too.

  • Write every day - no matter where; no matter what.  I don't like to confine myself to word counts - sometimes I have to stop and research. Sometimes I have to minister to the many people in my life that I love and who need me.  But if I touch base with my writing each day it moves forward and stays present in my head. I can then also do a lot of the work in my subconcious, through attention, and application in ways that don't happen if you let a day, or several days, go by without writing. 
  • Write without restraint. Allow yourself to delve deep - sometimes to dark places where there is pain and desire. No one will read what you've written until you let them, so forget about your readers for a bit and go where you must to find your own truth (bet you don't hear that often...).
  • Turn off the lizardy, self-critical voice in your head (she can come back later) when you write. The goal is not to write a masterpiece. That's too daunting and probably not SMART. The goal is just to front up and do the writing. The polishing comes later. So don't criticise yourself. Now is not the time.
  • Look, listen, pay attention. The world is full of characters and material. The more you write, the more you'll notice and find stuff to write about.  Everything (and everyone) is interesting if you pay close enough attention, listen, look, use your five senses, and really take it in.
  • Aim for completion. It doesn't have to be the whole project. Chunking a project into, for example, chapters, or poems, or pieces of finished work is not only more satisfying than endlessly working on something, but it gives you something you can submit somewhere, which really helps keep the writing juices flowing (a few accolades/publications/or positive critiques don't hurt either).
How about you?  Will you be setting secific goals for 2014?  Whatever you'll be spending 2014 doing, have a very happy new year!  

Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sublime Planet, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at

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