Goals can help you do a lot of things. They keep you focused, they help you strive to be better, and they challenge you.
There are several different kinds of goals you should set for yourself. I’m thinking of three specifically. And trust me when I say they’ll help you immensely.
How to Meet Your Goals
Before we talk about the kinds of goals you should set, let's look at a few strategies you can use to ensure you’ll even continue to try to meet your goals.
Keep Them Visible
If you can’t remember what your goals are, chances are you’re not going to complete them. Set reminders for yourself on your phone to write, or write up a list and hang it someone you’ll see it frequently throughout your day.
Give Yourself Incentive
It’s easy to put off the hard stuff where there aren’t going to be any consequences to your actions, so give yourself consequences. If you don’t meet whatever goals you have for the day, you don’t get to watch the next episode of that Netflix show, or maybe you don’t get dessert. Make sure it’s something that will really give you incentive.
If all else fails, have someone hold you accountable if you start slacking. If you know that your friend will text you threatening emojis should you decide to skip your goals for the day, you’re probably more likely to get it out of the way so you don’t have to face that horror.
Make sure it’s someone you trust enough not to crush your spirit, but also not to go easy on you.
3 Kinds of Goals
Now for the goals themselves. There are three different kinds I keep for myself.
1. The Daily Goal
The daily goal can be whatever you want it to be, but it should be something that’s consistent so you’ll get into a habit. Some possibilities could be “write 1,000 words” or “write a journal entry.” I like to set word count goals for myself, because I can easily track my progress as I go.
Don’t make your daily goals too hard, though. They’re meant to be attainable enough that you can reach it each day without too much difficulty. It both challenges and motivates you, as well as building upon your next goal.
2. The Long-Term Goal
Long-term goals can be as short as a month (like with NaNoWriMo) or much longer, like a year. It doesn’t much matter what the length is; just make sure you pick a date and stick to it.
Maybe your long-term goal is to finish that novel by the end of the year. Maybe you want to edit that project to the point where you can finally send it out to your critique partners.
It’s best to set this goal before you set your daily goal. That way, you can design your daily goal to help you meet your long-term goal.
If your long-term goal is to write fifty-two short stories in a year, your daily one can be to write a minimum of a page each day.
3. The Lifetime Goal
This is the broader, less exact goal. You can’t necessarily measure it as easily, but it’s still something you can constantly work to achieve.
What is your big picture, ultimate wish as a writer? Do you want to be rich and famous? Get one of your stories made into a movie? Maybe you just want your book to change someone’s life.
Find that longing deep in your gut that made you want to write in the first place and work toward that goal. Work relentlessly. You’ll get there.
Your Goals Determine What You Accomplish
This set of goals gives you a vision for what you plan to accomplish and a plan for how to get there. When you have those two things, you're far more likely to sit down again and again to the daily practice of writing.
Progress might feel slow at first. But soon enough, those days will pile up into weeks, months, and years—and before you know it, you'll have met even your biggest goals.
Then you get to set new ones!
What are your writing goals right now? Let me know in the comments.
Think of the long-term goal you've set for yourself. Maybe it's to write your book in the next few weeks, maybe it's to write a short story this month, or maybe it's something else entirely.
Then, pull out your work in progress and spend the next fifteen minutes adding to it. If you don't have a project already in the works, try out one of these story ideas. Make progress on your daily writing goal.
When you're done, share your practice (and your goals!) in the comments. Don't forget to give your fellow writers some love, too. Have fun!