Writing Goals for the New Year


Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash


Hi SEers. John with you today. This is the first Story Empire post of 2022. Let me wish you all a prosperous and Happy New Year. (Maybe I’m the last to do that, but the sentiment remains)

The new year means many things to all of us. But to those of us who are writers, the new year is a time to set some goals for our writing. Goals are like resolutions but are a little more concrete and designed to guide the writer’s productivity for the next twelve months.

Since goals carry a burden more significant than those self-improvement desires usually stated in resolutions, planning them should be with a little more care.

The following suggestions on goal setting in this post have the intent of 1. Inspiring you to develop writing goals. 2. Providing a replicable model to assist in goal development. 3. To strongly suggest measuring goals to determine progress.

So, with that introduction, let’s get into it.

For our purposes, what is a goal? A goal is a written statement of the desired outcome that, taken with other goals, produces movement in the direction the individual wants to go. This is not a definition pulled from a dictionary. Instead, it is a statement that hopes to explain the nature of a goal.

What are the steps to establishing a goal?

1 Know the destination.

2 State that destination in as few words as possible.

3 Know what it will take to accomplish the goal

4 List those actions that will achieve the goal

5 Set timelines for completing the actions

The number of goals set is up to the individual. However, one should bear in mind that the goal and resulting actions need to be those things that are in direct control of the person setting them. The actions have to be tangible things that can achieve the goal. Setting goals that are unattainable is a waste of energy.

In the five things mentioned above, two of them require knowledge. To be successful in goal setting, the destination and what it will take to get there need to be known. If the person setting the goal has no idea of either, then setting goals is once again a waste of energy.

So, a goal-setting model would look like this

A written goal in as few words as possible.

Written action steps that will achieve the goal

A timeline for the accomplishment of each goal

Now that we have the model, let’s go to an example. How about as a destination we choose getting published. So, we now know the destination. Do we know how to get there? Maybe or maybe not. Let’s say we don’t. We know we need to find out more. For this exercise, our first goal isn’t to get published. It is to find out how to get published. Let’s state that.

Goal = Find out how to get published

Do we know how to do that? I think most of us know basic research techniques. So, let’s get some actions down.

1 Google “getting published.”

2 Make a list of all the ways to get published

3 Choose the one way that seems most comfortable

4 Set up a series of goals and actions to accomplish getting published

These are good, but we said to set timelines for completing the actions. Here they are with timelines.

1 Google “getting published” – By January 10th

2 Make a list of all the ways to get published – by January 15th

3 Choose the one way that seems most comfortable – By January 16th

4 Set up a series of goals and actions to accomplish getting published – By January 30th  (note: This does not mean being published by January 30th. It means setting up the goals and actions for getting published.)

As you can see, setting one goal can lead to a series of goals designed to reach the destination. By the way, the destination could be almost anything. It does not have to be so overarching as “getting published.” Getting published might even be a mission statement rather than a goal.

I would recommend setting one goal at a time and working that goal to a conclusion. This means that maybe a writer will only have five or so goals for the year.

I hope you found this discussion validates the need to set goals and that the process need not be complex.

How about you? Do you set goals? If so, how many do you set? Do you find them helpful?

108 thoughts on “Writing Goals for the New Year

  1. Great post, am a huge advocate for setting goals.
    In particular, I think your description of setting goals is hugely similar to the SMART framework of setting goals, where you set Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Constrained goals🙂
    Helped my grades, as well as my progression with many hobbies!

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Great post, John. Goals are good–especially if we are able to meet them. I tend to miss some of those I set for my own writing. But that’s on me. Perhaps your approach will help me in my drive to finish two current projects this year. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I created what I thought was a reasonable writing goal to finish this stubborn WIP, but I didn’t stick to it. I finally realized that I need to be more realistic. I had set the goal of writing for half an hour every day, but my schedule just doesn’t allow for that. So, I’m revising my goal for half an hour three times a week (basically, my workout goal…lol!). For this week, I’ve managed to work out once, so tomorrow I’m going to write. Fingers crossed it actually happens. Great post, John! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I really enjoyed this post, John. Often, goals can be simply aspirational but this technique shows how to make them practical and achievable. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thanks for that reminder, John. I have been distracted from writing for the past few years and am now wondering if I should set the goal to write and publish a few short stories to get me back in the game, so to speak. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. What an excellent post, John. I love the concise way you laid out the steps to establishing achievable goals, then steps to implement them. Thank you for sharing. Here’s to a new year filled with creativity and productivity!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. This is gold, John. It took me longer than most to learn how to set actionable goals with deadlines. Still need reminding now and then. 😉 It’s easy to keep goals in a mental file and become overwhelmed, but it’s not the most productive way to work. The act of writing down goals is an excellent exercise in and of itself.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I do set writing goals for myself each year, usually with deadlines attached, but I’ve never written them down. That’s something I will have to consider, as I can see how that makes them more concrete. An excellent illustration of how to apply goals in our lives and hold ourselves accountable. Resolutions are easy to break when the going gets tough, but a goal is harder to walk away from.
    Great post, John!

    Liked by 7 people

  10. Very insightful, John. I like how you’ve taken a goal and then broken it into smaller, more manageable, tasks. With the challenges of life being what they are, tackling one smaller goal at a time makes a possibility a reality. I like that approach very much. Well done! 😊

    Liked by 7 people

  11. I try not to make resolutions in January because I never stick to them and then feel bad, which is worse than not having set any at all and staying stagnant. But I love the idea of setting goals, and your steps to finding our TRUE goal were great. Wonderful post to start the year with, John. Thank you.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Great post, John! It’s important to have goals and as you pointed out, written goals are very important. It’s easy to just float along and then suddenly the year has come to an end. Without a written goal, it’s hard for me to make progress and harder to evaluate. I find a great deal of joy in writing down my goals. It’s nice to look back on what I’ve accomplished (and sometimes didn’t) as well as knowing where you want to go. When I write something down, it becomes a priority.

    Liked by 6 people

  13. I like your thoughts on this, John. They mirror the way I approach most projects, especially breaking things down into smaller steps. “Write the Gret American Novel” is a little too broad, unless you’re Snoopy.

    Liked by 7 people

  14. I have a rough idea of my writing goals for the year. I shall experiment with writing them down, so thank you for the “planned steps”, John.
    I wonder if anyone will report back in January 2023. It would make an interesting post. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

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  16. I determined not to make any resolutions for this year, as everything is such a mess and I wouldn’t know where to start anyway.
    But I like the sound of one goal at a time. To clear everything else off the table and concentrate on just one sounds like a great idea.
    Now all I have to do is choose which one…

    Liked by 7 people

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  18. Great post and subject, John 🙂 You’ve given a clear way to approach reaching and making a goal by breaking it to steps. It’s always easier to do it step by step. Although, I’m not one to set New Year goals orher than just to do my best. It applies in many parts of writing.

    Liked by 6 people

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