Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Three Steps to Meeting Your Goals

At the beginning of year, many writers create a list of goals. For the first few weeks we are all gung-ho and working feverishly. Then something happens. Life gets in the way. On top of that, our calendar is filled with unrealistic goals or goals that aren't specific, timely, or measurable enough to accomplish them. We get discouraged.

How do we stay the course? How do we work our goals into our daily schedules and make them happen.

Look at your calendar and find an hour. Maybe it won't take that long, but give yourself time to truly consider the goals you have set. Bring your calendar and your list of goals with you. I prefer to do this outside of my house--libraries work well.

STEP ONE: Review your goals one at a time and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T

In order to move forward, your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Let's say your goal is to publish your first article in 2019. That's great, but it's too vague. A S.M.A.R.T. goal would look like this: I will publish my first article by the end of 2019; researching my topic and writing the article by February 1, having a final draft by March 1, and performing market research in April to begin submitting to select magazine publishers by May 1.

Why is this important? Deadlines are marks on the calendar. They are dates you can see and shoot for. Just as important, instead of having to wait until that article is published to feel like you accomplished something, you have these targets along the way that keep you motivated.

STEP TWO: Break down your S.M.A.R.T. goals into small tasks.

Now, let's take that S.M.A.R.T. goal and break it down into small tasks. The to-do list to research your topic might look like this: perform online research, set up interviews with experts, conduct interviews with experts, and visit the local library for additional resources. Then you need to estimate the time necessary to complete each task.

STEP THREE: Time block your calendar.

Pull out your paper or electronic calendar. It's time to get serious. The best way to accomplish your goals is to structure your time so you work most effectively and efficiently. Time blocking will help. There are plenty of online templates to make this easier. I prefer a weekly planner in half hour increments.

The first thing you do is plug in all the things you know you can't change: the day job, picking up the kids from school, exercise time, doctor appointments, etc. The empty blocks are where you tuck your small tasks in. Maybe Monday morning at nine you have half an hour to perform online research. Wednesday at noon might be a great time to call or email those experts to set up interviews.

What's the best part about time blocking? It shows you where time is being wasted, so you can reclaim it.

If you want to meet more of your goals this year, create S.M.A.R.T. goals, break them down into small tasks, and then time block your calendar. You'll be glad you took the time to set yourself up for success.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at


  1. Terrific suggestion, Cheryl, thank you.

  2. Great ideas. I've done that for my current WIP because I was getting nowhere. I now have a specific date to finish. Getting there.