Sunday, January 17, 2010

Measurable vs. Unmeasurable Goals

Writing goals (or any type of goal for that matter) are personal by their very nature. What might be a terrifically motivating goal for me might be a useless and unstimulating goal for you. However, effective goals tend to share certain traits.

To illustrate this, I'll give you a few personal examples of goals that motivate and demotivate me. Can you tell which ones are which?

1) Write for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, every day. Keep a calendar and record the days you reach this goal.

2) Create completed first drafts of four posts a day for the next seven days (for a total of 28 draft posts) for my writing tips blog.

3) Create 100 great blog posts by the end of this month.

4) Become a successful writer.

Goals #1 and #2 are effective and motivating goals. They're specific, they involve objective measurement and they are reasonably reachable. Those are the types of goals that motivate me.

Goals #3 and #4 are demotivating goals. Goal #3 is overly ambitious and ill-defined (what does "great" mean?). Goal #4 is not only ill-defined, it's unmeasurable. How can you be motivated to reach a goal that you can't even quantify?

One other notable thing about this list of goals: let's say I achieved goal #2 this week. Is there any reason that I can't achieve that goal next week, and the week after that?

Guess what? Four weeks of achieving goal #2 would generate enough blog posts to exceed goal #3. Ironic isn't it? Even the smallest goals, as long as they are specific and measurable, can add up massively over time.

Sit down today before you start your writing session and jot down a few well-defined, reachable and measurable goals for your writing.

And then achieve them!