Friday, February 1, 2013

Write Your Goals: How Putting Your Target into Words Can Lead to Writing Success

Do you ever write down goals for yourself? I don't mean your to-do list. I mean shaping your long-term and short-term life goals into actual words that you put down on paper so you can read them and move toward them.

Blurry. But still in print!
It may seem a little late to talk about setting goals for 2013, since it's not January anymore. On the other hand, most people who get excited about goal-setting and making resolutions on January 1 have quit by February 1, so maybe we're right on track for those of us who are serious about achieving something new this year. At the very least, all the glamour of New Year's Day has worn off, and now we're at the part of the year where reality sets in, and we can truly think about what we want to see happen in our lives this year.

One of my own goals this year is to write consistently and to finish drafts for the two novels I have been working on over the course of the past two years. At least one will be ready to be submitted by the middle of the year, and ideally, the second will be submission-ready by December. Those are my targets. And as you can see, I've put them down in print, so I can't deny them later.

There's just something about quantifying our goals, painting them into a visible target with our words, and then keeping that piece of paper in front of us so we use it to gauge how well we are doing on our journey toward our destination. It may be hard to believe that this works. But studies show that people who write down their goals are much more likely to actually achieve their goals than people who don't. In fact, one study shows you'll be 33% more likely to succeed if you write your goals down and share them with others. (Here are the details if you want to know more.)

Michael Hyatt wrote a terrific article about how he uses written goals to achieve the success he wants. And he gives five reasons why this technique works. Basically, it boils down to this:

  1. Writing gives you a clear picture of what you actually want. It's specific, not general. Specific places are places we can more easily arrive at.
  2. Writing is an action. It's the first step along the road, and once you've taken a step, it's easier to take the next step.
  3. Written goals help you figure out what doesn't fit with your life plan, as well as what does fit. So, you can avoid rabbit trails.
  4. Written goals help you encourage yourself when you're tempted to give up because things are hard.
  5. When you reach your goal, you can clearly see in writing where you started from. That is, you started with an idea. Then you lived it out. And being able to look back on your progress is very satisfying.
Writing goals down on paper works. Here's a real-life example:

The famous, goal-making
book that worked for
my friend.
I have a friend who landed a book contract last year with a Christian publisher. She has been a fan of the book Write It Down, Make It Happen for years, which talks about writing goals down as a way to achieving them. Years ago, this friend of mine wrote down a goal: to be a highly sought-after author and speaker. In fact, she specifically wanted and wrote down that people would come to her, because she didn't want to run around trying to chase down opportunities. She wanted the opportunities to show up at her door.

And sure enough, that's what she got. She met someone who worked for the publisher in question. The person liked my friend, thought she had a great message to share, pitched a book idea to the publishing company, got approval, and then returned to my friend to say: "Hey, you've got a book deal if you want it." My friend is in the process of getting that book out now. How cool is that? And it's precisely what she wrote down as her goal.

I've already put my 2013 writing goals into print in this post. But what about your goals? What would you like to achieve this year? Be specific, and write it down. I'd love you to share them here. But I also suggest you write them in your journal or on post-it notes that you hang in your bathroom, or something similar, so you can go back and read them often. When you achieve those goals (and you will), let me know. Share the good news here, so we can all celebrate with you! I'll do the same.

And don't forget, we're working toward writing consistency this year too. Jump in on the discussion and the mutual encouragement with our hashtag on Twitter: #writinghabit. See you there!

Copyright (c) 2013 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


  1. There is no better way to solidify your goals than to commit them to paper. I one-upped that this year and posted them on my blog for all the world to see! I know, I must be insane. Now it's on me to deliver on the promise I made to myself and my readers. I just have to think of all the money I'll save not going out while I tap away at those keys!

    1. I'm right there with you! We can be insane together. LOL. Seriously, though, I have great blog friends, and they're all supportive. I'm sure the same is true for you. Wishing you the best with those writing goals. Stop in from time to time and let me know how it's going for you.

  2. I totally agree about the difference in writing things down. My dad taught me this valuable rule of thumb about 40 years ago. He said to put the note on my mirror or somewhere visible, where I would see it and be reminded every day until I achieved my goal. Years later, I have notes on my desk, on my walls, on my mirrors, in my car and all through my "daily use" notebooks. Every note is a very important one. My life is one big "note."

    Moral of the story (for me): It is often way too easy to let your goals become bigger and more numerous than the time or ability to fulfill. That's when "notes" become "lists."


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