Taking Action on Your Goals

220px-Kepler_track_alpine_ridgeline

I have been focused on taking action on my writing goals over the last few weeks. Researching and exploring the reasons we don’t act on our goals. In particular I’ve been trying to determine why my own action taking cycles.

I am a planner.

Hang on, I hear you say, no she’s not, she’s a pantser. Yes, in my writing I am but otherwise I really love my lists and calendars and mindmaps and goals.

I think it is important to set our goals (in ink) and plan our time and set deadlines for ourselves.

This is not enough. To reach our goals we need to take action – to follow through with the plans and work through the lists.

Sometimes it can be hard to take action even for something we really want.

This inability to take action can be due to a number of reasons:

  • Energy levels
  • Motivation/inspiration
  • Fear
  • They are not the right goals
  • lost sight of goals
  • too many goals
  • Distraction
  • Lack of commitment
  • Failing to plan

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading about how to move through these issues/problems to take action on my writing goals and write more.

I don’t want to be productivity focused – I know I can write more, I want to write more – so how do I do it?

Energy management – Knowing when you work best and working to that cycle. I have discussed this in greater detail here. Remember not to beat yourself up when your energy levels are low.

Fear – Whether it be fear of failure or fear of success or something in between, fear can be so overwhelming it can slow or halt all action.

Motivation – Are you working towards what you really want or what you think you want?

Too much or too little – Are you trying to achieve too much and just don’t have the time. Focus on what is most important to you first. Overwhelming yourself with too many goals will only stop you achieving.

Distractions – Understand what distracts you from taking action and find ways to reduce or remove those distractions.

I know that if I check my email before I do any writing of a morning then I can quite happily fill my whole writing time with reading emails and following up on links to articles and Facebook and so on.

Aware of this I don’t allow myself to even think about email or blogs until after dinner, or sometimes during lunch time at work. Even if I want to check for something, as soon as it is open I know my hour is lost.

 

Finding the tools to help you

  • Everyone is different – I have said this before when looking for tools for your toolbox; see what others are doing and what works for them and then take from them what will work for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix it up – take tools from various areas
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment – try something new and if it doesn’t work for you walk away, or change it to suit yourself.

 

This isn’t a complete list

There is far more that I could go into. And action taking is different for everyone. Some of you will find it easy to sit down and do what is needed; others will struggle even though you know taking action will get you closer to what you want.

Can it be that easy?  What does it take to be able to action your goals?

 

Image courtesy of Wiki commons

Goal Setting to Reach Your Mountain

 Mount_Mulanje Painting

We started the year with a discussion around goal setting and that you need to know where you are heading before you can start. Or perhaps, like myself, you needed to check that you were on the right path that led to where you want to be.

I asked you to think about that path and where you wanted to be. To focus on your values and what is important.

The next stage is to think about how to get there.

There are different ways to set your goals. There is a lot of advice out there and many goal setting tools, some easier than others. When I started drafting this post I had it all mapped out for you, but I think it would be better if I just pointed you in the right direction rather than drag you down my chosen path. So here are some steps that I think are important no matter how you set goals…

 

Write your goals down

It helps to see where you are going when you have it laid out in front of you.

Checking your goals regularly helps and knowing where those goals are is important – in your planner/diary, on the study wall, desktop. Wherever it is you need to be able to see them.

 

Each goal needs to lead to your overall goal or value

You have spent time thinking about where you want to be, the goals you now set are based around how you are going to get there.

To help determine these goals consider:

  • What you need to do every day or month to reach your goal.
  • What skills you need to learn or sharpen.
  • Who can help you.

Some goals may be short, or take longer to achieve or may lead onto other goals. You will have a range of goals that lead to your ultimate state or mountain.

If you need some inspiration to reach your mountain, check out Neil Gaiman’s inspiring speech.

 

Write each goal as a positive, achievable statement

Write each down as you want to achieve it.

For example: I will be a happy writer, spending each and every day writing exactly what I want to.

 

Set deadlines for your goals

Know when you want to achieve your goal by. Open ended goals simply don’t get finished, they just go on and on and on.

Consider:

  • When do you want to be living your dream?
  • And when will you complete each step on the way?

Working full time as a writer is on my 10 year plan. But I would prefer it to be my life in five years…so what do I need to move forward? Or do more of to get there faster? This is what I consider when I set my annual and monthly goals.

 

Use to do lists and action plans to reach your goals

Writing down your goals is not enough, you need to act on them every day.

 

Share at least one goal that leads to your mountain by clicking reply.

 

Photo by africankelli africankelli (originally posted to Flickr as Mount Mulanje) and adjusted by Georgina Makalani

Are you heading in the right direction?

The first month of the year has slipped by already.

‘We tend to wish our lives away, wishing for something better,’ someone said at the water cooler this morning. ‘Nearly another weekend.’

‘I’m not wishing mine away,’ I thought. ‘I’m working toward something better.’

Are you wishing your life away or do you know what you want? Where you want to be?

This year marks some big decisions for me. This has meant some big changes and maybe some hard times (including squashy times as I’m living in my parents’ spare room) but I think the sacrifice is worth it to move closer to what I want.

The first step (actually made late last year) was to think about whether I was on the right track. Was I going where I wanted to go?

The answer: Not quite.

I was losing belief in ever reaching my goal, meandering toward it on a path that was becoming overgrown and hard to navigate.

Thinking about where you want to be involves asking yourself a lot of important questions. Thinking deeply and meaningfully about what is important to you and the way you spend your time, and how that impacts on those around you. (There are times I consider spending my life living in a shack on a beach somewhere scribbling away in the sun, living off the change I earn collecting flotsam – but probably not ideal for my daughter.)

It is important to note here that there is a difference between dreaming and goal setting. But I think dreaming is a great place to start, or maybe that is because I’m a day dreamer. And don’t worry about whether you have the skills for this ideal life, we will discuss that in a later post.

At a talk presented by fantasy writer Lian Tanner, last year, something she said stuck with me: She had met writers she felt were better writers than she. Yet she was published and they were not.

The reason: Lian was determined. Pure tenacity. She wanted to write and so spent the time and energy writing as best she could.

Anything you want to do will require you to work at it. Finding something meaningful will mean life will be far more enjoyable and dedication will be easier.

 

Action: Where do you want to be? What is your ideal life in five or ten years?

Spend some time thinking about…

  • Your values
  • What you enjoy
  • Where you are happy
  • What is important to you
  • Why it is important

Make a list or mind map or diagram and define your destination.

Mine?

I want to write engaging stories that pull readers into another world. And I want to do that full time, spending my days lost in the worlds I’m creating.

When you know the destination, you can map the path to get there…and that is a story for another time.

Writing Every Day

keyboard flat

Every writer writes differently.

Yet every writer writes.

I find that the more I write the more likely I am to write and the easier it is to enter the flow. Therefore I’m a firm believer that it is important to write every day.

Even if it is only a sentence.

Not everyone agrees with me. There are writers out there only writing weekends and achieving a lot. But I know that too long a gap between writing sessions only increases my anxieties about writing and it takes me longer to find my flow. The writing doesn’t have to be world shaking, or even good. In fact some sentences may be downright bad.

Your writing does not have to be written in a leather journal or into a top of the line writing program. It could be written in your head, or the back of an envelope or be part of the shopping list. The important part is to write.

I was recently trapped alone in a car on a long trip for my day job. Spring was ending and summer was starting and it was a sunny day. I spent the journey trying to describe the grass that grew along the side of the road. The hours of writing various descriptions in my mind while I drove achieved something: I still have the strong image of the grass now, months later, nodding heavy seeded heads as I drove past.

Despite wanting to write every day I haven’t always manage to do it. Something would prevent me doing what I love and usually that was me.

This year I have set myself a challenge: To write at least a sentence every day.

I am trying to write this sentence before I write anything else. But the only rule is that I write every day. There are a lot of other variables:

  • Sometimes the sentence is part of my current writing project,
  • Sometimes not,
  • Some are short,
  • Some expand into paragraphs,
  • Some are punched out and abandoned,
  • Others are edited at length
  • Written at the end of the day
  • Or the beginning
  • At my desk or the dining table or a cafe…

It all boils down to me writing every day and I hope by the end of the year to have 365 days of sentences.

 

I would like to set you a challenge:

Think about when you are or were most productive in your writing. Was it during a particular period, time of day, emotional space or only on a Sunday afternoon when you sit in a particular chair?

Now, what was special about that time or place? And what could you do to replicate it?

Hit reply to share your response.

Goal Setting for a New Year

Goals

Setting Goals

I set my goals for the coming year well before the bell tolls in the New Year. Yet so many leave it until that last minute to think about it.

For me goal setting is an ongoing process and not static from year to year. Each goal leads towards the larger or longer term one, which all boils down to:

Where I want to be and what I need to do to get there.

Once you have the where determined, it is time to think about the what.

I have my goals for the following year drafted by August/September and finalised (written down) by November/December. That way I’m continuing on, rather than starting whole new goals.

 

Reviewing Progress

At the end of each year I review how well I went at achieving my previous year’s goals.

It is worth reviewing:

  • The goals set
  • What was achieved
  • What processes worked well
  • What didn’t work well

For each of the above points, the question why needs to be asked. Where they the best goals for me? Why did I achieve some things but not others? Why did certain processes work and what can I do to replicate them?

This reflective process helps keep focus as well as determining what will work best over the coming year. I also review the year’s goals midway through the year to ensure they are still relevant, achievable and on track.

I will look more closely at goal setting over the next few months but for now I will share with you my writing goals for 2014.

I will write at least a sentence every day…

I will complete my fantasy novel to a polished standard

I will complete a first draft of next novel – Sisters Book 1

I will develop my website and post at least once a week

I will write and publish an ebook via website

I will read more – at least 15 minutes a day of fiction

Some of these goals are continuations of what I started last year, or even before. Some are new and some are definitely pushing my writing limits. Yet I believe they are achievable and all lead toward my ultimate goal – to write full time.

 

What is your ultimate writing goal?

What are you doing this year to work toward it?

(I would love to hear your responses, please hit reply and share.)