Happy New Year! That time of year when we talk about fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions (that are so often broken). Let’s resolve this year to not resolve, but rather to set a few key goals around our writing and/or writer marketing and “get ‘er done.”
These can be anything from completing that unfinished novel to having a manuscript edited, to attending a writer’s conference, to creating an author website and social media marketing plan. The trick is to make them “SMART” goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound).
Potential pitfalls: The deal with goals — like resolutions — is that setting them is easy, but staying on track to achieve them can get a bit muddy. Keeping track of our goals and monitoring our progress, those steps we take to get there, is easier these days with a number of useful online goal-tracking tools and apps.
Below are five of our favorites. Pick yours (or let us know if you use one that’s even better) and let’s get 2013 started… and finished, right! (Graphic courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
1. Stickk was developed by Yale University economists who tested the effectiveness of Commitment Contracts through extensive field research. You select a date or period of time by which you contractually agree to accomplish your goal. Certain goals are one-shot commitments – you pace yourself as you wish until the deadline. Other goals are on-going commitments – where you have to reach a target every week until the contract ends. The unique part is that you can put something at stake (like money to a charity if you don’t meet benchmarks), and you can designate someone to monitor your progress (called a referee) and garner supporters who will applaud as you take steps to reach your destination.
2. Achievr is a web-based solution for setting and tracking goals that uses the S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound) criteria. In addition to the name, the start and due date, and a parent goal you write down your goal statement (What do I want to achieve?). Equally important is that you put the reason for your goal down in writing (Why do I want to achieve this goal?). Smart wizards support you in setting your goal, checking the S.M.A.R.T. criteria, and making further notes such as notes about possible obstacles, necessary resources and support, and how you will reward yourself when you have achieved your goal. You can review your goal and all the additional information such as your notes, the image for visualization purposes and your progress with only one click.
3. WeekPlan lets you set goals for the week (or even long term goals) and create a task list for each day of the week that will help you achieve that goal. Inspired by the famous book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this tool intends to help you remember your long term goal each day by doing something towards achieving it. You can also enter your mission statement and past achievements to stay motivated. Tasks can be marked as important and/or urgent. You want to spend as much time as possible in important but not urgent tasks. You can also drag and drop tasks from one day to another to easily reschedule your week.
4. GoalBot allows you to set goals and then ceate detailed action plans for your goals using their smart goal planner and track your progress as you go. Using a hierarchical planning system, you create a set of steps that will lead you to your goal. If any of the steps you’ve planned in the first stage are not simple enough for you, Goalbot can assist you in planning that step further (breaking it down even into smaller steps) until you’ve developed a road map to accomplishing your goal – your action plan. You can also connect with the community – friends for motivation and support, other people interested in your goals for information, inspiration, and advice, and even coaches if you need an extra hand.