- 78% of Americans wish they were more productive
- People who set goals are 13% more productive than those who don’t
- People who write down their goals are 1000% as productive as those who don’t
And perhaps most interesting…
- Only 4% of Americans explicitly define and write down their goals.
Short version? Setting goals is important. Writing them down is even more important. Writing them down in a way that helps you meet them is even more important than that. Here are two key rules to doing just that.
Dave Kovar, a mentor and hero of mine, once told me that most people set their short-term goals to large and their long-term goals too small.
In the short term, we fall into a cycle of excitement. When we set goals, we’re excited and motivated. We feel full of energy and we’re usually in a space where we have a little extra time (otherwise we wouldn’t be taking time to examine our goals, we’d be working on other projects). The end result is overcommitting on our short-term goals. We promise ourselves we’ll write ten new books in three months, lose 10 pounds a week, and other impossible tasks.
The result of promising ourselves the impossible is failing to keep those promises. After a couple of repetitions, we become discouraged about our ability to meet goals at all. That leads to the second half of this problem.
In the long term, we lose sight of the power of doing small things every day over time. Remember: if you write a page a day, you’ll have a complete novel in one year. Another mentor of mine, Tom Callos, had made me do 55,000 pushups and run 1,000 miles per year for two and a half years now. That’s possible because I don’t try to do it all in the first month. I spread the load out over an entire year, making the task manageable.
When you set goals for your writing, keep both of these common mistakes in mind and review your plan to make sure you avoid them. With my business writing coaching clients, it’s part of the process.
Use SMART Goalsetting
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
This rule helps you to form and express your goals in a way that makes them more likely to actually turn them into reality.
- Specific goals clearly define what success looks like using unambiguous language and exact detail.
- Measurable goals attach definitions, and metrics whenever possible, to make it clear when progress is being made.
- Achievable goals are possible to complete with the time and resources available.
- Relevant goals are checked to make sure that the success condition actually brings you closer to your definition of success
- Time-Bound goals set a finish date, with large goals setting benchmarks for defined points of partial completion
Bad Example: “Be more active on social media”
Good Example: “Post ten times each week on Google+ for the next three months.”
One point about how the good example is achievable. Note how it says “post ten times each week” instead of “post twice every day.” The reason for that is you’re going to have a bad day at least once in the next quarter. If you promise yourself you’ll post every day, you have failed in your goal when that bad day happens and you don’t post. Promising ten posts a week means you can double up your posts the day after something goes wrong.
What are some experiences you’ve had with setting, attaining and falling short of your goals? Tell us about it in the comments below or come chat on G+.