New Year’s Blues Got You Feeling Overwhelmed? Or How Can You Achieve Your Goals? by Carol Malone

Fight Card: Ladies Night by Carol MalonePlease welcome author Carol Malone who edits a newsletter for the Ventura County Writers Club in Ventura, California. Each month she crafts articles to inspire writers in her local area and today she’s sharing her article on goal setting as it concerns us as writers. Enjoy!  


How many of us have said, “I want to be a writer?” Great goal. A little vague, but a worthy goal. If we write notes, holiday cards, or a grocery list, we’re writers. How can we narrow that aspiration down or beef it up? “I want to write the next great American Novel.” Better. At least you now know what you’re aiming at as a writer. Still a tad unrealistic.

What do you want right now, at this moment from your writing career?

There are as many ways to set and achieve goals as there are people who invented them. I found myself drawn to one plan for attaining goals: the S.M.A.R.T. technique.

Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T.? No. It’s not a new superhero collection wanting to fend off marauding aliens waiting to eat our brains. It’s a way of smartly achieving goals. Specific groups have employed this technique for varying applications:  business, work, school, and fitness. Commonly attributed to Peter SMARTDrucker’s management-by-objectives, some say it was a term found in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management. Others say George T. Doran developed the concept in the article: “There’s a S. M. A. R. T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives,” Management Review (AMA Forum), November 1981, pp 35-36. No matter. The principles of S.M.A.R.T. are easy to understand. That’s terrific, because I’m sure you love easy.

I can see this S.M.A.R.T. plan is right up a writer’s alley.

If we adhere to the principles set forth by this technique, we’ll not only narrow our goals to something we can achieve, but actually accomplish them. Let’s take a brief look at using S.M.A.R.T. techniques and see how they might apply to us as writers:

S = Specific – A goal must be defined. Finish this sentence: “My goal is to_________.” Using the five-fingered structure spoken of by Lee Wade, ask yourself: Which goal? What do I want? When will I know I’ve achieved it? Why do I want it? Who will benefit? and Where will it lead me? This is not a wish list. This is something you’re going to commit to. Share your goal with someone you care about, someone who will give you positive feedback. Write it down and put it where you’ll notice it.

Ex: “I want to publish a book.”  

M = Measureable – Discover what system of measurement will work best for you and will keep you on track. We’re not alike as writers. We have systems that work and those that don’t. Do you like to write your goals down and post them on the wall? Have you tried making a spreadsheet or hand-written chart? How about using a wall calendar with a big red X when you’ve accomplished your daily goal? Measurement gives feedback and lets you know when you’ve reached your goal. Have an end date in mind. If you find the date unrealistic, revisit and revise your goal.

Ex: “I will finish my book on ______________.” 

A = Attainable – Identify the steps (schedule) needed to complete your goal. Develop an action plan. Push yourself. Reach for, grasp your goals. What are the tiny steps you need to reach your goal? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly? Be aggressive yet realistic. Reaching and stretching is great, but not too far out of reach.

Ex: “I will write my 300,000 word novel by May of 2015. Unfortunately, I haven’t started yet.” Good. But not measureable.

Ex: “I want to write a 300,000 word novel in three years.” Better. 

R = Relevance – Is your goal of importance to your growth, relevant to you? Answer this question “I want to achieve this goal because ___________.” This will be the ongoing motivation to drive you to achieve this goal. Make sure it describes your goal as a writer.

Ex: “My overall goal is to be a published author because it will make me proud.” 

T = Timely – Most important. Visualize the successful completion of your goal. Do you have a date in mind when it should be finished? Are you deadline driven? Can you track your progress or do you need someone else to help you? Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others to keep you on track.

Ex: “I will finish my 300,000 word novel – 2,000 words per day ´ 3 years = 300,000 word novel.

I will track daily on my oversized calendar on the wall of my office.”

The S.M.A.R.T. plan can be adapted to fit your particular needs. Even as writers we don’t have the same goals. You may need to examine your life, like one of my mentor, Paul Bishop advised our writers club at one of our meetings. He said, “Remember what Socrates said: ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’”

We might also say, “A life without setting goals is not worth living.” Make yours examined and joyous by stretching to reach your goals.



Carol MaloneCarol Malone successfully combined her three passions—romance, sports, and writing in her highly rated books, Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night,” and her latest, “Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night Christmas,”  a short story sequel. Carol became the first woman to punch her way into the male-dominated genre of pulp boxing with her tender love stories. She invites readers to scramble into a front row seat and root for the underdog and his gal as you take an action-packed thrill ride. If not hammering out new tales, Carol is reading, watching TV, or hanging with her author husband on the Coast of California. She loves her readers and invites you to come to her website to chat about sports and amour.






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