For the last two weeks I have received emails from over eight different companies offering to teach me how to have a wonderful and amazing year next year. Their premise is that I will have a wonderful year if I complete a goal. Since I am a writer, perhaps I should complete some writing goals.
The companies offer to give me practical advice to assist me. Some of them even offered to give me a certificate of completion when I finished their course. The least expensive offer was close to five hundred dollars.
Today, I will give you my three steps to complete a goal and have a great New Year. And, I won't charge you five hundred dollars.
3 Steps to Complete Your Writing Goals
I will give you a preview of the three steps. Beware, the next three lines contain spoilers:
Step One: Decide what you want to do
Step Two: Write down what you want to do
Step Three: Do what you wrote down.
1. Decide what you want to do.
Step one may seem simple. The most important word in step one is DECIDE. Yes, make up your mind.
You are creative, right? A writer. You have so many story ideas, which one should you do first?
Pick one. Just one. Work on this idea until it is finished. Focus. Finish.
But first you have to make up your mind. You can never finish something if you don't start. So for now, make up your mind.
(If you are not sure what you should decide to do, consider these writing goals.)
People cannot hit what they do not aim for.
― Roy T. Bennett
2. Write down what you want to do.
Step two is essential. Well, all three steps are essential. Don't skip a step.
You have to write down what you want to do.
Don't rely on your memory. When you wake up the next day and your six cats are meowing to be fed, if you haven't written down what you want to do, you might never remember. You have bills to pay and cats to feed. If it is not written down, you might not remember what you want to accomplish.
How many pages will you write today, this week? Decide, then write it down. Find a friend who would be willing to receive weekly updates from you. Send them at the end of the week how much you have written.
If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal — you have a wish.
― Steve Maraboli
Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University of California, after studying two hundred and sixty-seven people, discovered you are more likely to complete goals if you write them down or share them with a friend. Seventy percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend achieved their goal or got more than halfway there. But of the people who didn't tell a friend or write down their goal, only 35 percent made it that far.
3. Do what you wrote down.
Step three is an action step. You do what you wrote down.
You can control your future if you always obey what is written down. Before you go to bed tonight, write down what you want your future self to do. Such as, “Write three pages today.” When you wake up you will see the note you wrote the night before, and you will do what it says.
Last night I had my husband decide what time he was going to get out of bed this morning. First he wrote, “I want to get out of bed at seven.” I had him change it to “I will get out of bed at seven.” Then he signed the statement and I signed it as a witness to his promise. He made up his mind: step one. He wrote it down: step two.
This morning at seven, he hit the snooze button. Dr. Matthews's suggestion to tell your goal to a friend helped my husband this morning. I opened the blinds, turned on the shower, and ripped off all the covers on the bed. Then he did step three and got out of bed.
The Gift of Writing Goals
In twelve more sleeps it will be the first day of a new year. A day of hope; a day where we can begin again. We can have that feeling every day, but the first day of a new year feels like a gift.
So, as you start your new year, think of the three steps. You don't have to buy a fancy course. You can write. You can complete your goal of writing a first draft, editing the novel you wrote in November, or writing the story of why you flew to Asia in 1983 with a one-way ticket to Bangkok.
Decide what you want to do, write it down, and do it. I believe in you.
Tell your story.
Do you have trouble completing your writing goals? What do you do to help you complete them? Let us know in the comments.
Today I want you to take fifteen minutes to think. What do you want to do? Pick one thing. Just one. Now write it down. If you don't want to share it here, share it with a friend.
You can also do this exercise with the protagonist in your story. What does your protagonist want to do? Write down what they want. Then write for fifteen minutes about what your protagonist did. Did they accomplish their task?
When you're done, share your goals or your protagonist's in the comments. Be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers so we can support and encourage each other in the new year.
I wish you all my best. I won't see you again until next year. Twelve more sleeps.