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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Goal Setting for the Organizationally-Challenged

C’mon in. It’s safe here. Sit anywhere.

Believe me, I understand how difficult it is to submit your free-wheeling creative side to the strictures of goal setting, accountability, and—shudder—planning. I fought that fight for years, and still strain against the leash.

You want to be successful and accomplish something meaningful, but setting goals is difficult and takes energy away from being creative. What to do?

Even the most unorganized creative has heard about the value of setting goals. Most people even understand that goals work best when they are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.
See more on this.)

On some level, we organizationally-challenged even understand that. But … but … oh crud, it’s drudgery.

So, how do we gain the benefits of goal setting while retaining the belief that we can sashay through life, taking it as it comes?

Broaden your horizons
Who says goals have to be set a year at a time? Just because January 1 is approaching doesn’t mean you have to kowtow to tradition and set your goals for the entire year now.

But if you do, stay away from grandiose resolutions such as bringing about world peace by December 31. I’d even suggest foregoing “Finally finishing this blasted novel after 22 years.”

Instead why not aim for something you know you can achieve? “I will eat chocolate at least once a day,” for instance. It is arguably writing related.

What’s wrong with bite-sized chunks?
Sometimes smaller is good. Is it better to proclaim your intention to finish your novel in 90 days or that you’re going to finish Chapter 13 (which is half done anyway) by the end of the month?

Is it better to vow to spend three hours a night, butt-in-chair every night for the first quarter of the year, or to choose Thursday nights (and sometimes Tuesdays if American Idol has
jumped the shark ) as your writing night?

Small successes build confidence.

And when you see that you can write more consistently by piecing together small chunks of time, maybe you’ll decide to write on Tuesdays also—after all, Wednesday is Idol results night. And results are what matter, not how you get there, right?

Interested in the 2011 goals of the staff of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild? Go here.

Michael Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He has written for newspapers and other print and online outlets. He edited several nonfiction books, was the senior editor for a faith-based financial services and insurance organization, and is the ezine editor for American Christian Fiction Writers.


  1. I admired your word choices in this, Mike. Cool pic as well. Love the frame.

    Chocolate every day. I can do that :)

  2. Yeah, we have to feel we've accomplished something ... chocolate always works. Thanks!


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