You know that old saying -- if you don't know where you're
going, any path will get you there. That's what happens if you
don't take the time to figure out what your goals are and
WRITE them down. There's power in writing things down
(and if you're a writer, you already know this).
Figuring out your goals is probably one of the most
important and one of the most overlooked steps for writers
and other creative professionals starting their business.
Ideally you should put together a business plan. However, I
have yet to meet a writer (including myself) who has one. (In
fact, if you are a writer with a business plan, please contact
me. I'd love to chat with you about it.) Second best is getting
your goals down on paper. Here are some things to include:
Your writing/creative goals -- both long-term and
short-term. What do you want to accomplish in three
months? Six months? This year? Five years from now?Your financial goals -- both long-term and short-term. Don't
forget to write down how much money you want to make.Your plans for your business -- both long-term and
short-term. Break it down the same as your writing goals --
three months, six months, this year and five years. Include a
marketing plan as well. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just
figure out who your target market is, where your target
market is (i.e., local, regional, specific cities or national),
and how you're going to reach your target market.Action steps for each goal, including the marketing plan.
Break each goal into manageable steps, number each step
and add a completion date. Make a separate copy of this
and put it where you can incorporate these action steps into
your daily activities.
- Your personal mission statement. What do you want to
accomplish in your life? Not just as a writer or creative
professional/artist but as a person. Knowing your mission
will make organizing your time much easier.
Don't rush this process. In fact, you should make it a treat for
yourself. Go on a retreat. Try and get away for at least a day if
at all possible (a couple of days would be better yet). Go
somewhere where you won't be interrupted (and that
includes the cell phone). Allow yourself some quiet time to
really think. If it helps, do some meditating or journaling
during this time.
Don't worry about it being perfect either. This is a working
document. Ideally you should review it every six months or a
year and see where you are and what's changed.
Now, when I first started my business five years ago, I hadn't
planned anything or written anything down.
This was a mistake.
Sure I had some vague notions in my head of where I
wanted my business and my writing to go, but by not
committing anything to paper, I didn't end up there. My first
three years of my business I was busy and making money,
but I wasn't getting anywhere near the vague notions
dancing around in my head. Even more amazing, I couldn't
figure out why.
So two years ago, I started a regular practice of writing down
my goals and plan (much like the above). I do it twice a year,
and you wouldn't believe the difference. Sure, my plans are
far bigger than what I actually accomplish, and I've also
found myself modifying and changing my action steps (the
goals remain pretty constant, but how I attain those goals
Best yet, I'm now seeing results. I'm accomplishing my
Take the time to go through this process. The rewards are
Creativity Exercise -- Goal setting and creativity
If every year you find yourself setting goals and never
making ANY strides toward reaching them, perhaps it's
time to ask yourself why. Could it be they aren't YOUR goals
but someone else's goals for you?
I don't care what the goal is -- stopping smoking, losing
weight, starting an online business, writing that novel --
there's a reason it keeps climbing up, then falling off the
goal list. And until you figure out WHY that goal is stuck in
the never-never land of goal setting, you'll never actually pull
it into reality.
Is it because you don't know where to start? Or is the project
so big you're afraid to start? Or you're stuck somewhere in
the middle and don't know what to do next?
Or is it because you really don't want to do it?
Okay, I'm probably dredging up all sorts of demons now, but
truly, those demons need to be exorcised or they're
constantly going to be standing between you and your goal.
What I suggest is to take some quiet time and do a little
soul searching. Journaling and meditation are both
excellent ways of opening up a dialogue between you and
your muse. Your muse is an excellent resource for you. If
you ask, it will tell you which goals really matter and really
don't matter to you.
And, if it turns out that goal is something you don't want to
do? Then stop putting it on your goal list. I mean it. Quit
making yourself feel like a failure by constantly sticking it on
What if the goal is something like quitting smoking?
Something you know you have to do because it's hurting
your health? Try this instead. Rather than making it your
goal to quit smoking, make it your goal to figure out why you
don't want to quit. And what you can do to help yourself
become committed to quitting.
Whatever you do, don't make turn this exercise into a license
to beat yourself up. Be nice to yourself. You're doing this to
help, not hurt, yourself.
Michele Pariza Wacek owns Creative Concepts and
Copywriting, a writing, marketing and creativity agency. She
offers two free e-newsletters that help subscribers combine
their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting
principles to become more successful at attracting new
clients, selling products and services and boosting
business. She can be reached at http://www.writingusa.com