Setting and Meeting Goals

Most people I know are addicted to setting goals. It starts in January with New Year's Resolutions, picks back up in Spring when we swear to get into swimsuit condition by the summer, floats into the Fall when we promise not to wait until the last minute to do our Christmas shopping and continues through the holidays when we commit to avoiding all those extra Winter pounds. Let's face it, we love goals.

As writers we set all kinds of goals. Daily word counts, finding the perfect coveted agents, spending less time cruising the web. When we achieve them, we treat ourselves to time off and high calorie chocolate products. When we miss the mark, lingering self-doubt comes out to remind us how much of a failure we really are.

So how do we capitalize on our success and minimize our destructive downward spirals? For me, it's all setting realistic goals. Things that require me to act, but I know can be accomplished. For example, I set a goal for the month of May to become more active on the YALITCHAT website. (FYI: if you write YA and aren't on this site, what are you waiting for?) When I set this goal, I intended to sign up as a Tier II member and post more critiques for my fellow writers (getting feedback is a major component of the site). So that's what I did. And then, one of the group coordinators posted that she needed to step down and was looking for a replacement. Hello, Opportunity! A small act on my part opened up doors I hadn't even considered.

But if we only set small, easily achievable goals, we're likely to find ourselves limited by our immediate view of our abilities. We need to set those larger, pie-in-the-sky goals. You know the ones. It's the I want to write a book so popular that movie studios are fighting over the film rights kind of goal. I want to walk the red carpet after my glamorous interview on the Ellen show type of dream. We need these dreams, but we need to keep them from sending us to the pits of doom when that first book is only mildly popular.
That's when it's important to remember that being a writer is like a long-term investment strategy. I'm in it for the long haul, no matter how long it takes. I don't intend to sell off my stock at the first sign of a setback. I'm going to weather the ups and downs because someday my writing investment is going to pay off...I'll talk to you then, Ellen. :)