Goal Setting

In her post about making a space for writing, Jenn’s first point was keeping focused on your goal, so I thought I’d expand on the idea of goal setting, because I think setting the best goal for yourself is absolutely key to its success, and that isn’t always straightforward.

When I talk about goal setting, you may groan, fearing repeats of corporate speak about SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed (or something similarly dry) – and while these are all reasonable, they are bit, well, boring.

I was introduced to a slightly different approach, by  trainer Deb Barnard of Relational Dynamics: EXACT. This is broken down to Exciting, Assessable, Challenging and Time-framed.


If you’re not excited by your goal, then it’s going to be a long stony road that will probably peter out long before the goal is much closer to you than when you first dreamt it. And the key within this notion of ‘exciting’ is that you make your goal a positive. Something you want to achieve rather than something you want to avoid.


Define to yourself how you’ll know you achieved your goal. What will it look like? Comprise of? It’s important to be quite idealistic with your goal – to aim for what you really want. Obstacles (like time/confidence/money) can be dealt with, hopefully!


Well, because it’s good to stretch ourselves, and the chances are the challenge will be part of the excitement. Maybe this is an idea you’ve had for a while, but haven’t been sure how to begin it. Maybe it’s a little bit scary but you’re sick of not finishing things…


This is part of assessable. When will it be you know you’ve done the job by? And if the word ‘deadline’ is more repressing than motivating, think of it as a target-time.


The clearer the goal you set yourself – its benefits, practicalities, sensory details, environment, people associated with it, the routine involved etc – the clearer it will be to create the steps to get there.  And this applies to small goals, like writing a first draft by Monday evening to big ones like getting my pamphlet accepted for publication.

And if you don’t make your goal by the designated time, then try not to berate yourself, instead, look at what prevented you from achieving it – was it you? something external? How could you circumvent that next time?

I’m very cautious in my goal setting, small bites at a time. I like to feel like I’ve achieved something most weeks, being that redrafting a poem, getting a blog post out, reading a new collection … And then I have these bigger more amorphous goals floating around in the background – the Writing Smithy was one of these – thatensure I keep an eye out for opportunities that will lead me to their completion.

For more about goal setting and how to get to where you want to be, go to the Writer’s Compass website to download their guide on this subject.

(Sarah and Jenn from the Writing Smithy literature consultancy are guest blogging here until August 12th.)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Harry says:

    You may want to check out http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

    1. Excellent site. thanks!

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