Guest Post by Freelance Journalist Dana Sitar

15 Aug

Dana stopped by today with an interesting post about setting up goals and follow through. She’s a freelance journalist and an indie author as well. For the aspiring writers needing help, Dana is your go-to-person.

To achieve a big end goal, focus on what needs to be done NOW.

When you have a Great Idea, it’s easy to  get carried away and execute your plans too quickly in your eagerness to see them complete. I have doomed projects in the past because of my impatience, so now that I’m embarking on something new and exciting, Imtakingprecautions. I’ve trained myself to slow down. Focus on the NOW, in order to move closer to success in the end.

Do you have the same problem? Do you get so excited about achieving your big goals that you forget to focus on all of the little things you need to do now in order to get there? Use this simple method to slow yourself down and focus on what you need to do RIGHT NOW in order to move closer to your major goals.

1. Determine your End Goal.

Do you want to publish your first novel? Do you want to win a writing contest? Do you want to land your blog on a Top 100 list?

This can be as specific or as broad as you want, but I recommend keeping it broad. An End Goal is the umbrella to every step you’ll take along the path, so it’s bound to morph and grow as you move closer to it. A very specific End Goal can be restricting and make you feel like you’ve failed if you stray too far from it.

My End Goal? Have my current manuscript published by a publishing house.

2. Set a Target End Date.

This can — and should — also be flexible, because you never know what will happen along the path between now and your End Goal. But it’s good to give yourself a bit of a timeline — do you want to reach your next goal in a month? A year? Ten years? Revisit this date over time to adjust it as you make progress.

My Target End Date? September 2013 — but look me up as time goes on! I’ll have to adjust as life happens over the coming months.

3. Determine milestones between now and the End Date.

This is the key step that makes this method my saving grace. I tend to rush toward the finish line whenever I get excited about a new project, not giving each step along the path its fair attention. To slow myself down, I set milestones along the way, the major steps that I need to complete in order to reach the End Goal. And then I focus ONLY on the next milestone. This way, instead of glazing over all of the important tasks and becoming preoccupied with the End Goal (i.e. publishing my next book), I can focus on what’s really important NOW (i.e. finishing the manuscript).

You can break down the process over and over again in order to ensure that you’re focusing on the most important immediate tasks. Look at your next milestone, and make that your End Goal. Determine smaller milestones between now and that new goal. Start with the first one. Determine even smaller milestones between now and that small goal. Here’s an example:

My next milestone? Complete the manuscript.

Smaller milestones? Write each chapter, research quotes, contact for permissions

New next milestone? Write each chapter.

Smaller milestones? Write Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.

New next milestone? Write Chapter 1.

Smaller milestones? Write one page per day, proofread chapter, send chapter to critique partner.

New next milestone? Write 250 words TODAY.

See how simple that becomes? By focusing on each step of the goal, you are forced to take each step slowly and mindfully, without getting ahead of yourself. Looking at a goal of “Write 250 words today” is not only completely manageable, it also keeps you focused on the task at hand. A goal of “Publish this book” allows your mind to wander to marketing, platform-building, pitching agents, formatting your manuscript, writing your blog…. etc.

Worrying about that gigantic End Goal makes it very difficult to make time for the very simple tasks that are vital to its success. Instead of trying to manage all of these facets of your goal at once, set them apart as separate milestones on the journey, and focus on each accordingly.

If you want more guidance in achieving your writing, life, and career goals, sign up to get free access to the DIYWritingToolkit, with ongoing resources to inspire, educate, and guide you on your unique path. And, just because I’m so happy to connect with new readers and glad to see you reading Cami’s blog, you can downloadtheGoalSettingWorksheet right now, without signing up for anything! The worksheet is a template to guide you through the process toward your End Goal, with more questions and tips to prompt you in your planning.


About the Author:

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares writing tips and anecdotes for dreamers in search of a path through her blog and the newsletter, DIY Writing. Connect with her on Twitter @danasitar.

One Response to “Guest Post by Freelance Journalist Dana Sitar”

  1. Cindy C Bennett August 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Great advice!

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