Tag Archives: goal setting

To Quit or Not to Quit?

That wraps it up for us this month, and what a month it was! We dove into making goals, how to make better goals, when to amend your goals, and when to quit your goals. We hope our insights were helpful to you, and that you carry some of our hard-earned wisdom with you into your future work.

In case you missed a post this month, here they are:

The Stories that Just Don’t Sell by Mary Pletsch

We Always Need a Goal by Ace Jordan

Quitting by Nicholas Ruva

New Goal: Stop Making Goals by Kristin Luna (that’s me!)

A Gamer’s Guide to Quitting by Heidi Wilde

How Goals Can Destroy Your Writing Career by Gregory Little

Finish What You Start, or Not by Kevin Ikenberry

A Faster Book, or A Better Book? by Frank Morin

Quitting with Feeling by David Heyman

In Favor of Failure by Colton Hehr

The Goal Post by Sean Golden

Obstacles May Be Closer Than They Appear by Kim May

To Goal or Not to Goal, That Is The Question by Jo Schneider

Made to Be Broken by Hamilton Perez

2018 – Hello, Universe Calling, Is Scott There? by Scott Eder

When Chronic Illness Sabotages Goals by Ace Jordan

Setting Realistic, S.M.A.R.T. Goals by Shannon Fox

Resources on Goal Setting and Quitting Goals by Kristin Luna


What were some of your favorite posts this month? Did we leave anything out? Comment and let us know!

Setting Realistic, S.M.A.R.T. Goals – A Guest Post by Shannon Fox

I still remember that day in middle school when our teacher showed up with a pile of school-issued planners for each of us to use keep track of our homework and learn good study habits. I excitedly flipped through mine, mentally vowing to use it religiously and fill it up with neatly written, color-coded tasks. The fact that I have terrible handwriting was a non-issue. With this planner in my hands, I was about to morph into one of those uber-successful adults with letter-perfect handwriting.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw my classmates were less than enthused by our gift from the school. They looked even more dismayed to learn that we would actually be required to use this thing and we would need to show it to our teacher weekly. I silently cheered as I thought of all the free points I was going to get towards my grade.

Though the color-coding and perfect handwriting aspects never materialized, I did use my planner religiously. I scooped up all my free points week after week and began my love affair with planners, to-do lists, and scheduling out my days by the hour. Over the years my physical planner has largely been replaced by a digital calendar, a to-do list on my phone, and an online project management tool (I use, love, and recommend Trello). But my desire to track and plan my life has not waned.

I would estimate I meet 85% of my goals or more. If I don’t meet a goal, it’s usually because of one of two reasons. It could be because I’m busy meeting another, more important goal. Or it could be because my goal is too ambitious and almost impossible to meet.

Take this most recent goal I set for myself as an example. I’m almost embarrassed to admit I seriously thought this was at all possible. But after I finished writing the latest draft of my novel in November, I (super) optimistically thought to myself, I can have this edited and revised by February. Two months, that’s no sweat. Easy peasy.

I promise I was of sound mind and entirely sober when I came up with this goal for myself. I’m also not naïve, I’ve written and edited books before. But somehow I really believed this was doable.

You’re probably wondering how that goal is working out for me. Well…let’s put it this way, I’ve edited twelve chapters out of eighty-four total. At the time of this writing, I have about two and half weeks to finish the other seventy-two chapters.

Obviously, I’m not going to be making this. Not even close.

By all accounts, goal setting is a good behavior and is something we should all practice. So, where did I go wrong?

If you’ve worked in an office setting or spent any time reading about productivity and time management, you’ve probably encountered S.M.A.R.T. goals before. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is a goal that is:






Most experts advocate for the use of S.M.A.R.T. goals or something similar because they help people turn nebulous ideas into results. Here’s how my editing goal looks when run through the S.M.A.R.T. framework:

Specific: I will finish editing my book.

Measurable: I will measure my goal by how many chapters I’ve finished editing.

Achievable: I will read through each chapter to make sure it is fulfilling its role of moving the story along, is interesting, well-written, free of grammar mistakes, free of plot holes and plot inconsistencies, and is as polished as I can make it. I will then finish the chapter by searching in the text for each of the items on my list of words I overuse/should avoid and make corrections as needed.

Relevant: Finishing editing my book will move me to the next stop along my road to publication.

Time-Bound: I will complete this by the beginning of February (about two months time).

So, I did have a S.M.A.R.T. goal. All the parts were there. But what I was lacking was a realistic goal.

Here’s the thing about me: although I know time and energy are both finite resources, I tend to overlook that fact when I’m goal setting. Because it’s really just inconvenient and it gets in the way of my super optimistic goals.

I also forgot to account for the fact that along with becoming an (I hope) better writer over the last year and a half, I also became an (I hope) better and more critical editor. So with both these overlooked facts in mind, I set the super unrealistic goal of editing an entire book in two months.

Clearly, it’s not enough to set goals for yourself. It’s not enough to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself either. You have to set goals that are reasonable in order to have a chance at success.

Some people beat themselves up for not meeting the personal goals they’ve set (and let’s face it, unless you’re lucky enough to be a full-time writer, all your writing goals are personal goals). It’s okay to be disappointed in yourself once in awhile. We’re fallible and we make mistakes. We have to constantly push ourselves to be better. But your disappointment in yourself has to be warranted. If you couldn’t meet an unrealistic goal, there’s no reason to be disappointed in yourself. There’s nothing wrong with you – it’s the goal that was wrong.

I’m not at all disappointed in myself. Okay, maybe just a little – but only because I was nuts to think this goal was viable in the first place.

But I’m not at all disappointed that I’m still editing my book and nowhere near done. I know I’m doing my best to keep up with everything in my life and whenever I do have time to sit down and work on my book, I really feel it is getting better. And that’s all that matters.


About Shannon Fox:

I have a B.A. in Literature-Writing from UC-San Diego. I write novels and short stories, particularly young adult, contemporary, historical, and science fiction. I maintain my own blog of book reviews and writing advice at IsleofBooks.com. I am a regular blogger for Equine Journal and Coastal Premier Properties. I have authored over 200 articles and blogs for online and print publication. I was also a research assistant to the authors for the published novels Teen 2.0 and Against Their Will. In addition to writing, my professional background is in marketing and advertising. I run a free marketing resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners at www.MinMarketing.com.

6 Ways to Sabotage Your Goals

There are things which keep us from achieving our goals, and sometimes we’re not aware when we’re being our own worst enemy.

1) be a good friend
Be a good friend to everyone but yourself. Always check email regularly, answer the phone and respond to your social media pings – as important as these are, they’re all distractions from writing. Set a time for them and that should be when you’re in your least creative head space, you can’t write another word or you need a break. There are days when I don’t check in with anyone or even look at emails because they’re an easy distraction and shift my thoughts on other directions. There are no short phone calls with close family or friends. The danger of the distraction is the changing head space. When I’m writing a world, I need to stay in it – the travel fatigue between realities is strenuous and counterproductive.

2) pretend you’re back in elementary or high school
At some point, we learned not to believe in ourselves. We can be our own worst enemy and critic. Somewhere deep inside a kernel of doubt niggles, of not being good enough (whatever that means), that we won’t succeed, that the stories will never measure up. Remember those elementary and high school teachers who red inked your assignments? In an effort to teach us the basics, they unwittingly hammered fragile creative egos. Make them the ghosts of your past, not your present. So, drop the hammer and the red ink and use the keyboard instead.

3) sweat the details
The devil is truly in the details. It’ll bring your world alive or it’ll totally swamp you. Researching a world thoroughly is fun and it stimulates creativity. Done to excess, however, it can be a distraction from both writing the story and the protagonist’s journey. The details must contribute to the plot and not be superfluous. Sometimes you don’t know what details you need until the story is being written. Use the premise and a rough outline to guide your research. If you really like research and world building, know that it isn’t over until the story is published – there will be times when you need to deepen the world with a little more research.

4) fear heights
Fear climbing the ladder of success. Fear writing ‘the end’. Fear sending your work to beta readers and editors. Two things happen when we get closer to our goal – the dreaming stops and we are forced to leave our now comfortable, creative world for the business one. The business side demands skill sets we’re not always comfortable with such as revision, editing, submission and marketing. Rejection or criticism, at any level, feels like falling off the ladder for the higher we go, the harder the fall. But it doesn’t have to be. Learning the business side, climbing that ladder – it’s a skill set that once embraced creates possibilities and enthusiasm for new goals, new stories and opportunities to realize your highest goal which is that of professional writer.

5) believe it’s a just hobby
If you don’t take it seriously, neither can anyone else and the support you need (time to write, encouragement, feedback) won’t be there. Worse still, you’ve created an environment designed to sabotage your goals. Most of us need to work to pay the bills so we can’t write full time. But treating it like a profession isn’t justy about having endless time – it’s about taking it seriously, setting regular times to write, learning the craft and business. So set your goals and take them seriously. Most importantly, decide what it is you want from your writing – is it a hobby or do you want something more? Then, set your goals accordingly.

6) read 15 how-to books and conscientiously apply them to your first draft
That stopped me cold. I didn’t need to read 15 books, just one how-to at the wrong time gave me a very painful writer’s block that took a week to work through. Of course we need to know craft and basic story structure and a few things which will make revision less painful. But sometimes we must trust we know that intuitively and let the story be told. Whether you outline or not the story must be written with all its flaws and gems all mashed into the manuscript. Revision, not the first draft, is the perfect time to analyze the manuscript and apply all the how-to advice. The danger, however, is that there are books 16, 17, 18 and more, and that the goal of finishing the novel isn’t realized. Revision, like this blog, must come to an end and the best way to do that is to write …

The End