The fall is a great time to check in on your goals and assess how things are going. I’ve never gotten out of the academic habit of seeing the fall as a fresh beginning. Although I homeschool, my kids begin new activities in the fall, and our schedule changes quite a bit. Even if you don’t have young ones going back to school, the change of the seasons affects us all in a variety of ways. This means it may be time to make adjustments.
Last January I wrote about setting goals. It is so important to have a roadmap for where you want to go. If you don’t, it’s hard to know whether your day-to-day decisions are bringing you closer to or farther away from where you want to be. If you don’t have some clearly-defined writing goals already, then revisit that post and set some specific and measurable goals for yourself.
Setting goals is a great start, but if all we do is write them down and leave them in a drawer somewhere, we’re not going to make steady progress. It’s best to keep them posted where you’ll see them: in your workspace, on the bathroom mirror, in the kitchen. You might set a monthly alarm on your calendar to move your list around so it doesn’t blend into the background. I am a person who craves order and routine, and I also resist change. Only by regularly reassessing do I keep from doing things the same way simply because that’s the way I’ve always done them. When I can see that something isn't working, I’m more willing to let it go. At the same time, I am more willing to keep doing the activities that are working; that’s helpful information too.
Once a quarter and once a month, I like to check in with my goals and habits. How are they working? What needs to be tweaked? Are my goals still realistic in light of what’s happening today? By making adjustments to my goals and routines, I can get a lot more done without compromising my sanity. This means taking an honest look at my circumstances, my resources (time, money, support), and my capabilities. For example, earlier this year I was plagued with headaches and had to adjust my expectations. Now that I’m feeling better, I can get back to my former level of activity.
If you want to improve progress toward your goals, I recommend checking in more often. In Pick Four, an adaptation of Zig Ziglar’s teachings, Seth Godin suggests checking in five days a week. He recommends you list the steps you took to achieve each of your goals on each working day. And, he urges you to ask yourself, “Is this enough?” Goals are accomplished by our day-to-day activities. Taking a moment to record those steps and assess whether they are adequate to get the job done is a great way to successfully move toward your desired achievement. It’s also helpful to look back on these lists when you think, what did I do all week? We often forget to give ourselves credit for the things we accomplish when all we can see is what's left undone. At the end of the week, Godin recommends you list the highlights, what got in the way or didn’t work, and what you learned from that. This helps you craft your plan for the next week.
By checking in with your goals and constantly assessing what is working and what is not, you will more easily accomplish your dreams. The world is pretty distracting, so we urge you to set yourself up for success by keeping track and making necessary adjustments.
Do you have other tricks and tips for staying on task and achieving your writing goals? We invite you to share what works for you in the comments below. Also, if you’re struggling with a particular area of your writing routine, let us know that too. One of our community members may have just the right idea for you.