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#2017WritingGoals: Setting Specific, Actionable, Personally Achievable Goals

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2107-writing-challengeOne would think that if we’re talking about 2017 goals, we’d already have them set and be working on them, right?

Well, for many of us, not so much. Especially those of us who were still (sort of) doing the FirstDraft60/120 challenge through the end of January. And if you’re like me, you’ve been at sixes and sevens since January 31. Without the structure or accountability of FD120, it was so easy to procrastinate on writing tasks to the point that I wasn’t doing it much, if at all, and rarely on a daily basis.

That’s about to change, and these Sunday posts are a big part of that.

As I mentioned in my comment on Thursday’s post, my writing time that night was spent working on writing out a rough sketch of my short- and long-term goals for the year.

Friday, I posted an image of what that looked like. And I followed that up later in the evening with a couple of posts to Instagram showing the continued process (on bigger paper!):

But most of what I’d written down were more ideas and directions for setting goals rather than specific, actionable, personally achievable goals. And as I’m quite fond of telling other people, if you don’t break a big task down into “bite-sized” chunks, set a timeline, and start working toward marking tasks as completed, you’re probably not going to accomplish much. Time to start taking my own advice.

What Is Meant by “Specific, Actionable, Personally Achievable” Goals?

I’m so glad you asked. (You did ask, didn’t you???)

I linked to the series in Friday’s post, but here’s the Goals vs. Dreams post that deals specifically with how to set goals like this:

Dreams vs. Goals: Setting Goals to Achieve Our Writing Dreams

  • Don’t be vague.
  • Set specific goals with actionable items to be able to measure your success.
  • Determine both short-term and long-term tasks.
  • Develop a timeline and stick to it.
  • Write down your goals (that makes them “more real”).
  • Check each item off the list as you complete it.
  • (Read the full post for more details.)

How Would I Even Start Setting a Year’s Worth of Goals Like This?

I’m so glad you asked. (You did ask, didn’t you???)

(Click image for larger view)

(Click image for larger view)

I prefer working with two screens, especially when I’m doing something as detailed as setting up a schedule like this, so that there’s less clicking back and forth between screens (you can see down at the bottom of the left-hand side how many different applications/documents/folders I had open. And I had my handwritten notes beside me on the desk as well. As I typed each of the items in from the handwritten list, I looked at the calendar on the second screen and plugged in a date. I kept doing that with everything on the list until I came up with this:

(Click image for larger view)

(Click image for larger view)

And look at that—I’ve already completed two specific, actionable, personally achievable goals on the list: joining writing groups!

Most of the specific things on this list are short-term. And most have to do with setting other, more specific goals and/or scheduling tasks throughout the next ten and a half months in order to meet the more vague goals I’ve already written down. And most of that work of breaking these goals down into the specific, actionable items is what I’ll be working on most of the day on Sunday. Which means that by the end of the day, my calendar should look less like the screen shot above and more like this (a week in November 2016 during FD60):

Have you set specific, actionable, personally achievable goals for 2017 yet? Have you written them down? Have you made a timeline? What method for setting, recording, and tracking goals works best for you?

  1. Sunday, February 12, 2017 3:16 pm

    I spent a little while last night, after putting everything into the spreadsheet, creating each as an individual (or recurring) task in Outlook. That way, as soon as I open my email in the evening, the first thing I see is my checklist of writing-related activities that need to be accomplished for the day!


  2. Sunday, February 12, 2017 4:08 pm

    Okay. Now that I’ve had time to sit here and think about how I want to set up my calendar/daily schedule/task checklist, I’m thinking I might do it in my Google calendar—which is what I usually rely on for scheduling everything else in my life. Sure, it won’t show up in Outlook (though I do still have a task list there), but it will allow me to access my schedule anywhere.


  3. Monday, February 13, 2017 5:04 pm

    Using both the calendar and the tasks/agenda feature, I now have this week’s tasks scheduled, printed, and hanging where I can easily see them without having to be on the computer or on my phone.



  1. 2018 Writing & Professional Development Goals |

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