[10KWC] Tool Number 7: Setting Goals

A quick trawl of the web will uncover many fun and useful quotations about goals and targets and what happens if you don’t have them.

A common theme is this:

If you don’t set goals, you won’t reach them.

It’s tempting to avoid setting goals for that very reason. If you haven’t set a goal then you can’t fail.

This, of course, is the most simple recipe for failure – and continuing to fail.

This is failure in the sense of failing to even try – not the legitimate failure of coming up short.

When you fail to reach a goal that you have set in all good faith, you can step back and try to work out what stopped you hitting the mark. Was the goal too ambitious? Were there things in your life going on that were unavoidable and stopped you putting the work in?

If you’re honest – and compassionate! – you’ll be able to account for missing the goal. Then, you have a decision to make: you set a new goal or give up.

The Reasonable Goal

When you set a goal, it’s important to make it reasonable. If you’ve failed previously to reach a goal, you have some information already that can help you in your decision.

A reasonable goal is one that is achievable but requires a bit of a stretch.

Finding that balance between too easy to be considered worth doing and too hard to even take seriously is probably the trickiest part of goal setting.

It’s easy to dream up a goal of writing a 100,000 word novel in a month but if your daily writing total currently hovers between the 0 and 200 word mark, that’s not so much a stretch as a month on the rack with the Inquisition.

You may feel pumped and charged and excited by the challenge – for a day or two. But soon enough something inside will rebel and you’ll start to resent the goal and treat it with disdain. There’s not a hope in hell that you’ll come anywhere near your target word count and you’ll probably give up writing any words at all.

The other side of this is setting the goal too low. If your current daily word total is less than 200, setting your target to less than 200 will, at best, keep you treading water. You may hit that goal every day for a month and experience no sense of achievement. That will make you less likely to continue goal setting.

Using Stepping Stones To Reach Ambitious Goals

When I set my goal of reaching 10,000 words a day, I was stuck in the 0 to 200 word range. Closer to 0 on most days, if truth be told.

Obviously, there was no way I was going to go from 0 to 10,000 within a month.

Or two months, however desperate I was to up my writing output.

But it was that desperation that forced me to accept that I needed to make small steps of achievement towards the almost ridiculous final target.

So I gave myself six months and set monthly stepping stone goals that felt achievable – at a stretch.

This is key: reasonable goals act both as end points and beacons of encouragement.

Even if you have no crazy end goal in mind, set a daily word count you can commit to reaching. The commitment is important. Without it, you’re just playing a game.

Committing publicly is a great way to add a bit of beneficial pressure. That can mean posting your goal online or simply telling your significant other and a group of close friends. Invite them to check up on how it’s going from time to time. (I have a weekly meeting with a business coach in which we share our goals and progress. No lying allowed!)

Setting The First Goal

Now I’m guessing that you’re not writing as much as you want to. Who does?

Start with this: add 200 words to your current normal daily total. So, if you write 200 words a day now, make your goal for a month to hit 400. If you write 0, then 200 is your new goal.

Try that for a month.

That’s it.

That’s it?

Yup. The next step is up to you.

Let me know what works for you in setting writing goals.

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