Goals–Love ’em or hate ’em?


Some writerly pals and I shared our writing goals for 2011. After going through the exercise, I realized that I’ve had these goals in mind all along, I just never committed them to paper.

Why not? 

I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment if I failed. (I have enough things to feel bad about already, you know what I’m sayin’?) So, by not writing down mygoals, I had the mental flexibility to tell myself it was okay, I changed my mind, or it was okay to change that deadline I arbitrarily made because, well, I didn’t set it in stone in the first place.

But hold on a minute.

If I’m not a goal-oriented person, then how did I get through high school, undergrad, med school, residency, etc? Why am I looking to purchase a house? What makes me save up some money to buy a super cool Mac gadget? (Well, that would be the sexy Apple Advertising, but hey, y’all get the point.)

Even more than that, how in the world would I spend hours, days, weeks, and months–hell, years at this point–drafting seven novel length manuscripts if I didn’t have a goal in mind?

Which brings me to my point.

I realized that it’s worth writing down goals because then I can see where I’m at and where I’m heading. Sure, things will come up to block me (or advance me) along the way. That’s the marvelous thing about life. And writing down goals by no means makes them permanent and unchangeable. Think about it. How many times do we cut scenes and delete chapters to replace them with better versions? All the time! Why can’t we do that with goals too? I say we can. But, like we need rough drafts in order to carry out revisions, we need a starting point for goals in order to make modifications.

What about you? Do you have concrete, tangible writing goals for this coming year? Do you write them down or do you “wing it?” What happens if you don’t meet a goal?

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Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–we’ll be addressing a NEW topic!

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12 comments on “Goals–Love ’em or hate ’em?

  1. Lynn Rush says:

    Great post. I’ve never really been one to write my goals down. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Depends on my mood. I think maybe that’s because I have an overall goal of doing right by God & people. If I’m in tune with that, then I know I’m on track. Don’t need a list of goals to keep me focused.

    As far as writing. I did that once as a part of an exercise, but since then, I really haven’t. I just fly by the seat of my pants on that one. I write when I can. If I get a new story in my head, I just sit down and write it. I don’t strive to get a specific number of words per day or stories per year. I just write. 🙂

  2. Ooh, great question. My writers’ group sets personal and group goals every year at our writers retreat. We have both lofty goals (sell movie rights to a manuscript, hey I said lofty didn’t I) and tangible goals (submit manuscript to XX number of agents or daily word count goals).

    So far we have just goals, but no consequences. I wonder what would happen if we did. Would we set easily obtainable goals or rise to the challenge?

  3. You are the third blogger to inspire me to write down my goals for the Year 2011. I keep saying, yes! But this time, I think I’ll DO IT!!! I should do it right now or at least begin the list. List, yes, there should be a list, I think. Like the chore list I used to put up on a day when I had more housework than anyone would wish to do in a day. The list, together with start and finish times, and a half-way reward in the middle, spurred me on to accomplish it all without rushing or complaining. Thank you, Laura. I’m going to do it. In detail. Because you made the most important point: Editing is natural and good. Blessings to you…

  4. My writing goals are simple enough that I don’t really feel the need to write them down. Basically my goal is to just ‘keep at it’. Keep writing, keep querying, keep blogging, keep trying to be the best I can be at all three. It’s challenging enough in and of itself:)

  5. Emily C. Sims says:

    I really hear you when you say that writing down goals sometimes feels like setting yourself up for disappointment. A lot of times, I keep things to myself and only tell people about them once they are finished. That way, no one can have any sort of expectation about what I’m doing.

    I changed that with the book I’m working on–EVERYONE knows about it, and it’s actually a good thing! I’ve gotten so much support and encouragement as I’m working toward the goal of getting this book published 🙂

    In my opinion, setting goals is important, writing them down is important, and sharing them with others is important as well.

  6. Stephanie McGee says:

    If I write a goal down and I fail to meet it, I berate myself a lot.

    So I stopped even vocalizing my goals. They’re floating around up there in my head, but I skirt around the edges of them, aiming for them in a roundabout way. Because maybe if I do that and fail, I won’t feel like such a failure.

  7. Ciara Knight says:

    I do have a list in my mind of what I’d like to accomplish over the next year. Now that I’ve read your post, I think I’ll write them down. 🙂 At the end of the year I’ll look it over and see how I did. I’ll be specific, and maybe I’ll blog about it at that time. I’m always planning ahead. LOL

  8. lbdiamond says:

    Lynn–that’s a great goal. Keeping focus on God helps everything else fall in place. 😉

    Natasha–we all need “lofty” goals–theyr’e our dreams. I like how you have smaller goals as steps toward the bigger goal.

    Carol Ann–I’m glad to have inspired you! You’re an inspiration to me as well!

    CQG–Keeping at it is a great goal!

    Emily–isn’t it wonderful to have support to help cheer us along?

    Ciara–I had goals in my mind too…somehow they look different on paper, LOL! 😀

  9. Le sigh. Every time I write down my goals, I change my mind a week later. I suppose that’s why I avoid committing them to paper. 😉

  10. Amie Borst says:

    oh – like you i didn’t write them down for fear of failure. but my husband says what you did in your post all the time. the point of goals isn’t necessarily to accomplish them at the exact moment you set, but to adjust them along the way. besides – there are tons of variables that come into play with any goal. and we have to make adjustments for that because most of the time, those variables are things we have absolutely no control over.

  11. Keri Payton says:

    I love setting goals, particularly writing goals. I don’t always achieve them but I think they are good to have. I like to keep the mindset that I should be achieving more with my writing but if it falls through and I don’t manage it in a certain allotted time space, I am able to be more flexible and not punish myself over it.

  12. […] week, I featured two posts on goals. One focused on how to’s and the other focused on my approach to goals. Today, I’ll actually share my list of writing goals for […]

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