Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More on Writing Goals: Stretch Goals

A stretch goal is nothing more than a goal set just a few notches higher than a regular goal. It's a goal-setting technique that can help you increase your writing output and raise your overall writing standards. And as you set and achieve your personal stretch goals, you will accomplish much more with your writing than you ever thought possible.

Here's a simple example. Let's say you've set a daily goal of writing four typed pages of content (roughly 1000 words). While you maintain this regular goal, set a stretch goal of six pages of content. Or, if your regular goal is to complete two blog posts a day, a reasonable stretch goal might be three blog posts.

In both cases, be sure to think of the stretch goal as an optional goal, not a required one. Stretch goals are supposed to be outside of your comfort zone, therefore you shouldn't be surprised when you miss them from time to time.

But here's the beauty of stretch goals: it's okay if you miss them, but you feel like an absolute champion when you reach them. Now that's a great way to create positive motivation without any pressure to perform!

By the way, if you have a habit of getting down on yourself when you miss your regular goals, a stretch goal will redirect you away from punishing yourself for failure. When you aim for an aggressive writing goal that you don't need to reach, you remove all the negative pressure from writing. After all, you can't beat yourself up for missing an optional goal, right?

On the occasions when you do reach your stretch goals, however, you'll get enormous positive reinforcement. Gradually, you'll get used to the idea of achieving them. And as you grow to expect to reach your stretch goals, your standards for your writing will creep higher. Before you know it, six pages of writing per day isn't such a big deal any more. Instead, it's more like a regular goal. Guess what? Your stretch goal helped you increase your personal standards, and now you're writing 50% more material each day.

And what about that old goal of four pages of writing per day, the goal that used to give you so much trouble? It's now an afterthought on your journey to writing success.