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by Becky Martinez

As we begin the new year we often think about goals and what we want to accomplish this year. I echo Sue Viders’ thoughts on setting goals and writing them down. When they are written down, they become much more real to us. We can see what we are striving for and we can go back later and see what we have accomplished.

Checking back later is also important. A goal that gets written down and never re-visited is as useful as a goal you carry in the back of your head. It is kind of there but not really. If you have written down your goals and posted them where you can see them everyday you will be much more likely to have them in mind as you work and you can readily see what you are accomplishing.

The idea of having a deadline for goals also can work to make certain you accomplish them. For 30 years I worked with daily deadlines. In a TV newsroom, if you don’t make your time slot your work probably won’t get on the air. There was no option to fail. You got it done on time or else. In my case as a producer, I had no choice. My show was going on the air with or without me so I better have it ready to go at 5pm or 11pm. Come 6pm or 11:35, the day and opportunity were over.

Those daily goals worked wonderful for me as a great procrastinator. As a news person I knew that 95 percent of my goals had to be done by the end of the day. Come 6pm, if I hadn’t accomplished everything it was done for the day. It made me work much faster and keep a good daily schedule.

Now as a writer I have much longer range goals, but I still find that if I don’t set some sort of daily deadline for myself I am not nearly as successful. I like the idea of having at least 500 or 1000 words as a daily goal. It means I will get something accomplished. If I know if I set a monthly goal, I’ll find myself busy on the 29th or 30th frantically trying to write 30000 words.

My point is to set a goal that works for you and then add one more thing.

Keep track of your work. It’s one thing to go back and check it off, but I have come up with a chart to keep track daily of how many words I write so that at the end of the month I can check back to see how successful I was.

The idea was a result of NaNoWriMo. I always enjoy that November writing month because it spurs me on to write every single day and to post my numbers on a daily basis so I can see the total accumulate. See, there’s that daily deadline coming back to haunt me. Several years ago I decided I was going to keep a daily total for myself once the month was over.

I made up my own spreadsheet and began keeping track. What I discovered as surprising. When I knew I was going to write down a number I made sure I reached my goal. I hated writing down fewer words than the previous day. Of course some days I couldn’t hit my goal, but that only made me try harder the next day.

By the end of the month I was pretty much on target. Imagine my shock and the months piled up and the totals kept accumulating. I was getting some writing done for a change.  When I finished the book I found myself with some time to regroup, but then I started also keeping track of how many pages I edited. Yes, that spreadsheet grew, but by the end of the year I was amazed at how much I accomplished.

I did the same thing the next year. This is the fourth year I will be keeping my chart, but that brings me to something else.

Celebrate those accomplishments. Don’t just keep the goals but give yourself a special reward when you meet them.

At the beginning of the year I not only write down my goals for the year I also write down what I accomplished in the last year. It always amazes me how much I did accomplish every year. It also provides new drive to try to be better next year.

When I feel like I’m not getting anything done I’ll go back and look at the goals I’ve set and whether or not I’m getting them done, but I also look at what I DID accomplish and that makes me feel a whole lot better and ready to push forward.

So, write down those goals, but don’t forget them, and always remember to celebrate those accomplishments!  



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