Do Your Writing Goals Really Belong To You?

By Jennifer Blanchard

Yesterday, Laura Lee Bloor of Tenacious Me wrote a post called, “Are Your Goals Really Yours?” which discussed making sure your goals are really your goals and not someone else’s goals.

That post inspired me to ask you—Are your writing goals really YOUR goals?

If you’ve had a writing goal on your “to-do” list for quite some time and haven’t yet managed to achieve it or if you’ve had a writing goal on your to-do list that you’ve been procrastinating on over and over again, it’s time to reevaluate that goal.

Deconstructing Your Goals
In order to reevaluate your goals, ask yourself the following:

  • Why do I want to achieve this goal? It’s important to know the reason why a goal is important to you. The importance of it can serve as a motivator for you to reach the goal, or it can serve as a de-motivator if the goal isn’t really important to you.
  • What would happen if I took this goal off my list? If you have a goal on your list and taking it off wouldn’t make you miss it, it’s probably not a goal you really care about.
  • What would be missing from my life if I never achieved this goal? If a goal is important to you, not achieving it would mean a part of yourself would be missing. You would feel incomplete. If this doesn’t ring true for that long-standing writing goal on your list, it may not be as important as you think.
  • Why did I put this goal on my list to begin with? You obviously had a reason for putting it on there, so determine what that reason was.
  • Is this goal really mine? When you think about the goal on your list you’ve been procrastinating on, does it disappoint you not to have completed it? Or do you almost feel relieved that you haven’t spent any time on it?

As you begin to answer those questions about the goals on your list that have been there for a long time, you’ll start to figure out the purpose of each goal.

Sometimes we have goal on our list that we think we want to achieve, but after deconstructing it, we find out that we don’t actually want to achieve it. We find out that it’s only on our list because we think it should be.

But when it comes to a goal on your yearly to-do list, if it’s not something you truly want to achieve, it’s time to give it up.

In Laura Lee’s post, she gives the example of playing the piano as a goal she thought she wanted to achieve. She played for most of her life; she won awards and ribbons; she was a very talented pianist.

After having the goal of “start playing the piano again” on her to-do list for several years, however, she deconstructed it and learned that she didn’t really want to achieve her goal of playing the piano again. She hated playing piano. It gave her anxiety and stressed her out. It wasn’t fun for her.

But she had piano-playing talent. And that shouldn’t be wasted, she thought.

Now she knows better.

If every goal on your list doesn’t meet the following criteria, it’s probably a goal you should reconsider.

Your goals need to:

  • Excite you—The goals on your list should be something you can’t live without achieving. Your goals should be impossible to ignore.
  • Fuel you—Your goals should be your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. They should be what keeps you going when things get tough.
  • Motivate you—If a goal is on your list, it should be there because you truly want to achieve it. The desire to achieve that goal will be the motivation you need to make it happen.

The Truth About Novel-Writing Goals
Most writers have a dream of writing a novel someday. But then they don’t take any steps to make that dream a reality.

The reason for this, is because there are three things you need to write a novel; and the first thing is the most important of all: A desire to write a novel.

Now that probably sounds like a no-duh statement, but you’d be surprised how many writers say they want to write a novel and deep down they have absolutely no desire to.

Writing a novel is a journey that’s not for the faint of heart. So if you’re only writing one because you think that you should be, not because you really want to be, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Many writers think that writing a novel is “what writers do,” so they keep the goal to “write a novel” on their to-do lists and then procrastinate on it forever.

The truth is, writers should write whatever makes them happy. So if writing a novel doesn’t excite you or make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, it may not be the right goal for you.

It’s your life. You have only so long to live it. Why force yourself to do something you really don’t want to do? Think about it.

Is your goal of writing a novel really your goal?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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