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    New Years Resolutions 2002: A Goal Setting Plan for Writers

    The Pattern: Smart Goals

    All goals that a person sets for themselves must be able to fit neatly into the following word: SMART.

    That is to say, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Related, and Time Bound. The principle behind that is that to be effective in your life and writing, you need to set these goals with purpose. Think about it: have you ever had a goal you set for yourself work out that didnít fit this profile?

    I read the printed version of a life diary last year on the life of writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh, who wrote Gift From the Sea and many others acclaimed books and articles. And I found it terribly interesting that at a crucial point in her life when she was at her wits-end due to the catastrophic death of her first child and the crushing of many of her hopes in life, she set about putting herself back together again and getting on with life. And the most meaningful thing she says she did at that time was to make a conscious decision to live each of her days with purpose, and then to grow and give from there.

    In that time of desperation and profound sadness, there was a point at which she made a decision not to just merely float along in the stream of her life any further, but to actively take a part in setting goals and directions for herself and by so doing, to keep moving, to create motion, to take actions instead of just being reactive to the events of her life. She made a conscious decision to become proactive.

    And that is what we all need to do, regardless of the situations in our individual lives. As writers, perhaps doubly so, since we are the kind of people who often tend to sit back and watch life go by. We watch everything and take it in, connect it to a thousand other views already stored in our minds, and make written works of what we see. So it is then only too easy for us to get swept up in the tides and carried along without purpose, without our own action in our lives and writing.

    So to take action, then, is to set goals. And the first step in setting goals that donít disappear right after the New Year holiday, is to make sure they fit the Smart Goals model:

    Specific: As clear and precise as possible

    Measurable: Qualifying your expectations in terms of some standard (i.e.: "I will hit four accepted submissions in the non-fiction catagory the next four months time" is very measurable and specific)

    If you havenít already, create tracking sheets and watch your progress. Delineate the path you plan to follow to get where you are going.

    Achievable: You must be able to say with real belief "I can do that" to whatever goal you set. Make sure you have come close before, so that your brain knows that itís doable.

    Related: You have to make each goal related to your own expectations. If you made a resolution, for instance that says that you will get your book sold this year, then you need to make a list of what benefits this will bring to you if you do. What do you expect to gain by this? If you make it clear to your brain that is important to your future, your finances, your ego, etc, your brain will remember and make it happen.

    Time-Bound: setting specific dates for the establishment of your goal is essential. Each goal should be broken down into little pieces so that each day, each week, you work on manageable pieces of your success. No cramming at the last minute. No waiting until the week before your deadline to start. Then, put that date up on the wall. Next to your toothbrush. Beside the toilet, and in your carís dashboard.

    Set yourself a little creative self-pressure.

    Címon, if youíre in this business, youíve got to get used to deadlines anyway sooner or later.

    So why procrastinate: make it sooner and be prepared for your own success.

    And neither do you.

    continue...

    Copyright © Carolyn Burch

    Carolyn Burch is a fulltime freelance professional writer, columnist, and author and mother of four from Phoenix, AZ. With a background in addition to writing in marketing, sales, time management, and human resources, she has written for five national and three international print magazines and journals, several newspapers, and more than a hundred online ezines and sites, and is the lead instructor for 2001-2002 at the Cornerstone Creative writing workshops. Her writing archives can be viewed at http://www.cornerstoneconsortium.com.

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