A New Year Means New Opportunities: But Wait It’s February Already!

Okay, I admit it, I’m a bit behind. But since there’s a meme on Facebook that says January was a practice month, that 2019 started with February, I’m on time!

Because it is the new year, it’s time to talk about goals. Or rather about goal-making.

Not successful at achieving your goals? Maybe I can help.

The SMART goal approach is becoming a hot item among writers; well, at least with two, Maris Soule and Diane Burton I know through my writer’s group, Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America (MMRWA). In fact, both recently blogged about making 2019 goals using the SMART method.

I learned about SMART goals when I taught English classes at Davenport University, a business college. Our students saw the SMART goals methodology used in most of their classes. All the committees I worked on used them, too. In those committees, spreadsheets were used to identify and then track our goals.

Is it any wonder I learned to love spreadsheets? Well, actually, no. I was already in love with spreadsheets before my academic employment. My love for spreadsheets occurred when I was working at W.K. Kellogg Institute for food & nutrition research, where I was a liaison between the cooks there and the procurement department at Kellogg headquarters. I had a wonderful supervisor who taught me how to create cell formulas and create pages that talked to each other. Some of those skills I was able to teach to my academic peers, and now I continue teaching those skills to my writer friends.

I’m big on goals. So are Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, and Norman Vincent Peale. These three men, through their books which I read in my 20s, showed me the value of having SMART goals, even though they weren’t called SMART back then. Well, at least, not in their books.

I’m a fan of making to-do lists, too. Daily ones. So, naturally, my goals end up on my daily to-do lists. I have a master lifetime list of goals, a yearly list, which then gets broken down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

Do I achieve all these goals? Heavens no. But, here’s the secret. Because of these lists, I achieve way more than I if I didn’t have goals or the lists.

Only when I start getting specific with the weekly and daily tasks is when I start crossing off items. The more items I cross off the list, the more I want to do. It’s truly addictive. And, there’s something magical about writing the goals down. If you’re already a list maker, you already know the best part of any list is crossing it off the items. It’s a rare day, though, when I cross off all tasks.

So, what is the SMART goal?  It’s an acronym for:

Specific

Measurable

Action Oriented

Realistic

Time Bound

SMART goals are why I love our writing group spreadsheet so much, because it’s a way to Measure the Specific, Time-Bound, Action-Oriented, Realistic, monthly, writing goals we individually set up. I use present tense verbs, or as infinitives (To + Verb) when writing the goals:

  • To finish editing [book title]
  • To clean out files
  • Research [book title]
  • Write one chapter of [book title]

I then take those goals and break them down into daily, sizeable chunks, doable in 10-15 minutes, others in an hour or so and place them in planner’s calendar. In the years I’ve been doing this, there’s only one month where I completed all the goals. Most of the time, I feel good to accomplished half of them.

Without the spreadsheet, without the SMART goals, I wouldn’t be doing much. Yup, I’m that lazy. That forgetful. Get that sidetracked. I refer to my list multiple times throughout the day.

Bottom line, it really doesn’t take a new year to create new opportunities. Each day is a new opportunity to start a SMART goal, even at 11:55 p.m.  After all, a lot can be done in five minutes. Such as creating a goals list for the year.

So, what are my goals for this year?

  • To republish two of my first three books published. The first one, Determined Hearts, is already published.
  • To plot out the four remaining novellas in my Laurel Ridge novella series. The first one, Shattered Dreams, is published. #2 & #3 have the first drafts written. Ideally, I’d like to write the first drafts for the remaining four, then start publishing them at the end of this year and next.
  • To edit 2-3 screenplays and publish them. My first screenplay, David & Goliath is already published.
  • To sort materials for writing how-to series
  • To plot out a historical (can’t decide if as a novel or a screenplay)
  • To write quarterly blogs (A huge improvement over last year’s few postings)
  • To schedule on calendar promotional days throughout the year. DONE!!! (On these days, I’ll spend creating Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest promotional posts and/or ads. During 2018, I recognized I was doing promotions 80% of the time, writing only 20%. I want to flip those percentages.)

Actually, I do have a few more goals, but you get the idea. And you can see how I cross them off and write DONE at the end of the line. It’s both thrilling and fulfilling to write DONE.

And, that’s what this blog is: DONE! One-quarter of the way done for this quarter’s blogs.

So, how about you? Do you use SMART goals? Does this blog make you want to try using them?

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About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
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8 Responses to A New Year Means New Opportunities: But Wait It’s February Already!

  1. Lucy Kubash says:

    Our MiWriMo group has definitely helped me in setting goals. Now I just need to accomplish them! I’ll have to try applying the SMART method to be better organized. I have a lot of goals, just not clear on how to make them happen. I do like to make lists, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kara O'Neal says:

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pamelasthibodeaux says:

    I’ve heard of SMART goals and it is a wonderful thing to do for so many reasons!
    Thanks for sharing
    Good luck and God’s blessings
    PamT

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Diane Burton says:

    Having organized goals really helps with accomplishing them. I, too, love crossing off items on lists and writing DONE is emotionally rewarding. Good luck on your goals, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

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