Sunday, January 7, 2024

A New Approach to Goal Setting

Over the years, I have tried many goal-setting processes. The traditional approach is to set your annual goals to start January 1. Instead of using January 1, I tried using my birthday as the start of a year’s goals. I even deliberately chose not to set annual goals. When I do set goals, I try to make them SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Timely. See this blog for more details about SMART goals.[i]) From decades of experience, I have learned several important lessons about how I work with annual goals.

1. For me, setting goals works much better than not setting goals.

2. I have never managed to successfully complete all the annual goals I set (except when I didn’t set them).

3. Something always happens during the course of a 365-day year (or in this case, 366-day year) to cause my initial goals to no longer remain completely relevant.

Question: So, what is a poor boy to do?

Answer: Try something different.

This year, instead of setting annual goals, I will set quarterly goals. For my author business, I have four broad categories: Writing, Teaching, Sales and Marketing, and Business. Writing includes my creative process starting with creating the first draft and continuing through revisions and editing until the final version is complete. Teaching includes creating and delivering courses. Sales and Marketing encompasses everything relating to selling my creations. And Business includes the legal and financial aspects of my work.

For my personal side, I have two broad categories: Sharpening the saw and Miscellaneous. Sharpening the saw includes anything related to my physical or mental well-being. Miscellaneous covers anything else. For first quarter 2024, I have confined my sharpening-the-saw goals to three items: maintaining my weight at or under 162 pounds, reaching an exercise target related to running a half-marathon in May, and an education goal to become comfortable with dictation using Dragon.

What about my author goals, you ask?

The Business aspects are prosaic: send out required tax statements to others and complete my 2023 taxes, submit my nominations to various “best of” competitions.

Teaching goals also reflect known commitments. In the first quarter of 2024, I will teach one full course and begin teaching a second. I have two books I plan to reread this quarter to prepare for a third course that I teach late in 2024.

The Writing category has two major elements: complete all writing work necessary on Hijacked Legacy (Seamus McCree #8, which has a publication date of April 22, 2024), and revise a manuscript currently titled Niki Unleashed (Niki Undercover #2).

Marketing and Sales also includes two broad goals. The first relates to putting in place everything necessary for the April 22 launch of Hijacked Legacy. That includes creating blurbs, arranging guest blogs, a launch party, advanced reviews, and more. Soup to nuts, as my father was fond of saying. I have not completed work on the second goal. I know the first step, which is to create a marketing plan for the first quarter. That goal calls for me to complete that by January 15. Once complete, I’ll know what other goal(s) will make sense.

And there you have it. What approach are you taking for 2024 goals?

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James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series. Full of mystery and suspense, these thrillers explore financial crimes, family relationships, and what happens when they mix. To learn more information about Jim and his books, check out his website, You can sign up for his newsletter (and get to read a free Seamus McCree short story).

 [This blog originally appeared on Writers Who Kill 1/2/2024]


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