*EDITED TO ADD: GIVEAWAY HAS PASSED.* Today I have two giveaways for you that can help one writer with goal-setting and give one reader the product of one of my achieved goals. So, be sure to read all the way down for more information and several chances to enter!

Successful people have a reason for their achievements. Goal-setting and goal-keeping lead the field on secrets to success. We can chat all day about how much we want to accomplish this or that; but, until we set concrete and achievable goals, those remain simply happy dreams.

Let me give you an example that will tie in to four characteristics of successful goal-setting.

Goals should be attainable.

Seven years ago my family moved to the Greater New Orleans area. That was the first time I decided I needed to let go of the excuses and pursue my dream of authorship. So, I sat down and jotted out my goals—1-year, 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year and even 25-year goals. And, writing out those goals was helpful and even smart in some ways. You see, it allowed me to see my desires and to see where my passions lie. I looked into my future and pictured what I’d like to see there and then poured it out in ink.

Here’s where I made my goal-setting mistake, though.

I did not set attainable goals. I set big-picture, pie-in-the-sky goals without all the little stepping stone goals to get me there. For 2011 three goals I wrote were “write, complete 3 children’s books,” “submit one book” and “begin and keep up a collection of columns/blogs—at least 50.” Since I wrote these at the very beginning of 2011, these goals were actually realistic. And I did work toward them. However, I didn’t set all the little goals I needed to write 50 blog posts. I should have sat down and calculated how many that would be per week. With 52 weeks in a year, I should have assigned myself one post a week to write and one post a week to edit. That suddenly switched from an overwhelming goal to a simple weekly task.

Goals require a deadline.

For the children’s book goals, the goals themselves were really not bad. What I was missing is something I recently realized I have to have—a deadline. Instead of just making a big goal for a full year, I should have taken that goal and planned out my time. I could have set dates for first draft completions, dates for revisions, etc. For the one I wanted to submit, I should have also set smaller goals of researching publishers (or agents) as well as dates for focus groups, further revisions and mailing out my hopes and dreams.

As important as goal-setting is, a system for goal-setting and a support system for you and your goals are equally important.

We just spent three weeks chatting about writing community, so I won’t go too in-depth about how to find your support system. You can find them in your own family and friends first, of course; but the global world we live in teems with supportive groups willing to come alongside and encourage you.

Goals need to be encouraged.

For writers searching for an outstanding support group specifically for the setting and keeping of writing goals, please check out Jamie Raintree’s wonderful group The Motivated Writer. These fellow writers cheer each other on through the long and arduous process of writing, revising, querying, etc. Everyone shares their week’s goals on Monday and then checks back in on Friday to catch up. Some weeks really stink, but we own up to it and find the encouragement that the next week is a fresh opportunity. Other weeks find us not only meeting our goals but surpassing them. When that happens for a writer, we often get odd looks from friends who don’t get why completely rewriting three whole chapters is actually a huge win! So, The Motivated Writer gives writers the opportunity to share those happy moments with others who get it.

Goals deserve a detailed system.

Now, you may be wondering why I mentioned “a system for goal-setting” and then skipped right over it. I just like to save the best for last! Here’s where we get to this week’s GIVEAWAY! Not only is Jamie Raintree one of the most encouraging and helpful authors out there, she’s also an organizational genius! She developed the Writing & Revision Tracker, a goal-setting tool that allows writers to set monthly writing and revision goals for up to 10 projects.

As you work and record what you complete, you get to see your work in the form of graphs that provide a huge motivation to reach those goals. If you’re anything like me, you love to watch percentages climb until they reach 100%. Talk about a great feeling! With Jamie’s tracker, you have a visual representation of the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put in all year. On days when you start to wonder if you’ll ever amount to anything as a writer, just look back at how far you’ve come.

Jamie graciously offered my writing followers her motivational tracker for this giveaway. Thank you so much, Jamie!! I’m ecstatic to share it with you guys! Since several of you aren’t writers, never fear! I have a second giveaway just for you—an exclusive short story written by me! That’s right…you’ll be the first to have this story. Before you all enter to win, I have one more goodie to share with you today!

The Writing & Revision Tracker gives you a goal-setting system that works!

My beautiful writer friend, Mea Smith, has been using Jamie’s tracker longer than I have, so I asked her to share some thoughts with you guys on how it’s helped her with her writing! (Which, by the way, she’s totally rocking—first draft almost done!! Go Mea!!) She shares two huge advantages of the Tracker with us. Take it away, Mea!

The Writing and Revision Tracker is flexible, if you have different needs.

  1. I’m using the “Notes” section on the right side of the input calendar as a review of the writing as well as “mood” notes. (How did I feel before, during, after writing?) I found that, as I was building the morning writing habit, some of my natural morning grumpiness would overtake my mind. I was writing but, boy, was I down about it. Turns out, one particularly grumpy session had higher productivity than any single session before it. (I wonder how many times in the past that’s happened?) Suddenly, I wasn’t so grumpy anymore! So, I started adding “improvement” ideas to the notes section. How could I relieve myself of grumpy-morning Mea? I added thoughts like “brush my teeth first thing” and “10 minutes of stretching before writing.” It’s worked so far! 3 weeks in. I also like that I’ll be able to see patterns and resolutions at the end of the month/year to improve as an overall person/writer package.
  2. I wanted my monthly chart to show me an overall progress, a visual interpretation of my “at a glance,” so my monthly “goal” number is high. I found that the bar graph and the percentage of the overall goal completed after each writing session was extremely motivating. So much so, I wanted to ditch my salary job and write All. Day. Long. (But I didn’t. I like to eat.) One day, I wrote more because I thought, “4% done from only 70 minutes of work? I want to see 5% there.” I did a few more sprints and made it to 7%. It felt GREAT to see the progress.

Excel may be intimidating, but the Writing and Revision Tracker is NOT!

Excel scares me with its formulas and lines and professional attire, but the WRT is visually appealing and not at all intimidating. The top part of the page doesn’t look like an Excel file exactly; and the interactive graph, including color scheme, tricks me into thinking that it’s a tame, domesticated animal seeking my affection. (Jamie might be a wizard. Just sayin’!)


Without further ado, here is the much-anticipated giveaway!! Take advantage of all the opportunities to enter (some options give you one entry, some give you TWO!) and remember the giveaway ends at midnight on November 1! After you enter, come back and drop us a note! Let us know how you like to set goals and what you do to reward yourself for a goal met or how you pick yourself up when you don’t quite reach one.

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How Goal-setting Can Work for You: Successful people have a reason for their achievements. Goal-setting and goal-keeping lead the field on secrets to success.