I’ve been reading a lot about setting goals lately. I think we’ve all heard about setting SMART goals (the ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely, in case you forgot).
I know what my long term goals are: to publish a novel (more than one, but one is a good starting point), and to work as a freelance writer. Now, how do I get those two goals broken down into a small enough step that I’ll actually remove the cat from my desk chair and sit down to work? Removing the cat can be hazardous to my health (she bites like a hyena), so I need a powerful incentive to brave the jaws of Angel Kitty to get my chair back. I have to know I will accomplish something.
Having so much to do sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out. So I’ve started making a list of five things I need to accomplish each day towards my various writing goals. Each goal has to be something that I can accomplish in no more than a few hours. That’s the SMART part of my goals. My goal is not “work on freelance articles” but “find submission guidelines for ___ magazine” or “write query for xyz article”. Since I’m in the Anne Lamott mentality of shitty first drafts, I have to allow time to read and revise everything, including my queries. But that’s tomorrow’s project, and I like to think the downtime and extra attention to detail are only helping me.
So far, my day has gone something like this: sleep late (I was up writing until 2 AM – fortunately I don’t have to go to work), drink coffee, 3 journal pages, a donut while reading a couple chapters of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (second time reading it), and then I finally signed up on Facebook. After that, I had to call my mother to tell her she better friend me. That brings me to early afternoon.
What remains on my to-do list? Writing this blog post, looking up submission guidelines for a couple magazines I want to query with freelance articles, and finishing my writer’s resume for a residency I want to attend next summer. After that, I get to spend part of the evening working on my other love – designing crochet patterns.
If I complete all of that, it’s going to be a very productive day.
What about you? What’s your goal? How can you take a tiny step toward that goal? For the record, I do consider writing a to-do list to be a step. Mine are five steps I can take today towards a goal. For bonus points, check one item off your list.
And if today is not the day to accomplish much, there’s always procrastination. See last week’s post (Procrastination: A Refresher Course) for more details.