Friday, January 4, 2013

Setting Goals

Just as an ice hockey player sets his eye on the goal with the objective of getting the puck past the goalie, so you should set your eye on the upcoming year. But instead of just one goal into which to cast your lot, you should have several.

To begin, take a look at what you’ve accomplished in the past year. Make a list of your writing accomplishments. Don’t limit them to just pieces you’ve gotten published, but to what you think you’ve done that was not only good but super, even if editors didn’t think so.

What’s missing from this list? Were there pieces you wanted to write but didn’t get time? Did you miss the mark on the better markets? Was there something special you wanted to write about but never had the chance? And finally, did you make enough money?

After you’ve analyzed your accomplishments, it’s time to set down some goals to make this year, 2013, better than last. Your main goal in your freelance writing business is to move forward. If you fell back a few steps or remained stagnant, then it’s time to give yourself a kick in the butt and get moving.

Goals come in two types: long term and short term. The former helps you plan way ahead while the latter helps you stay focused on the here and now.

Long term goals usually span three to six months, sometimes even as much as a year or more. These might include creating and working on a book idea or breaking into new markets. Ask yourself where would you like to be with your writing in, say six months. What would you like to accomplish?  What skills need improvement to enable you to achieve your goals?

Short term goals are more current, covering as little as a week or as much as a month. They’re also more specific. For instance, you might set a goal to get a particular article or story published. Or you might promote yourself on one of the social networks.

For both long and short-term goals, you’ll want to list what you need to do to accomplish them. Limit these needs to three. That’s realistic, given the amount of time you’ll have to devote to accomplishing them. More than three may overwhelm you, causing you to avoid that particular goal.

Above all, keep things simple. Don’t list too many goals for a specific amount of time. Set only the number of goals, both long and short-term, that you can easily accomplish in the time you’ve set.

Once you have your goals in place, set time to review them. The obvious is at the end of this year. But you’ll want to review your short-term goals as they come due, much like a certificate of deposit. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Did you fall short and if so, by how much?

If you failed to accomplish a goal or two, don’t fret. Just roll the unfulfilled goals over to the next time period. For your yearly goals, there’s always next year. And for your short-term goals, there’s always next week, next month, or next quarter. Generally, review all your goals at the end of each quarter, at least for the first year. Doing so will enable you to see where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, and what you need to do to move ahead.


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