10 Powerful Ways to Set and Reach Your Author GoalsThis is one of my favorite times of the year because I love preparing to start a fresh new year, full of potential and possibilities. I always spend the weeks leading up to New Year’s Day sketching out goals and plans. Following is a list of some of my favorite planning strategies to help you set and achieve your goals for 2024 and beyond!

1) Celebrate Your Wins

Before starting to set new goals, please take a moment to capture what went right this year. It’s easy to focus on what could have gone better and the goals you didn’t quite complete. But have you stopped to consider all that went well? Here are some wins to consider:

  • Making progress on your manuscript.
  • Choosing a publishing path.
  • Establishing or growing your author business.
  • Getting your author website in order.
  • Booking a speaking engagement—or several!
  • Selling X number of books. Really, any number is worthy of celebration! It’s not easy to sell books.
  • Getting interviewed on a podcast.
  • Writing X number of blogs or recording videos.
  • Starting an email newsletter.

Taking a moment to inventory all that you accomplished this year, big and small, might leave you pleasantly surprised.

2) Get Clear on Your Goals

What do you realistically want to achieve in the next twelve months? Consider these ideas:

  • Launch a book by X date.
  • Pitch X number of literary agents.
  • Speak at X number of events.
  • Hit a specific revenue target.
  • Sell X number of books.
  • Get booked on 12 podcasts. (That’s just one per month, which is completely doable!)

I go through this exercise every year, starting with brainstorming a list of potential goals. My list typically becomes longer than is realistic, so my next task is to prioritize and decide which goals I most want to reach. I put the rest on my “someday” list, which you could also call your “goal parking lot.”

Keep in mind if your goal list is too long, it can feel overwhelming and ultimately deflating. I suspect this is how many people end up getting stuck in procrastination. I suggest choosing five to seven realistic goals.

3) Use Proven Strategies to Reach Your Goals

According to a 2015 study by Dr. Gail Matthews and Dominican University, those who commit goals in writing are 33% more likely to achieve them. Her research also revealed that those who sent weekly updates to an accountability partner were a whopping 70% more likely to achieve their goals, compared with only 35% who kept their goals to themselves.

4) Create Tasks That Turn Goals into Achievements

The examples of goals listed in bullet number two above are broad, as they should be. You might set a goal to speak at 12 events, but then you must determine how to make that happen by identifying the steps needed to reach that goal.

Using the example of a speaking goal, here are steps you might take:

  • Identify three speaking topics and write presentation descriptions.
  • Create a speaker page on my website.
  • Develop each presentation.
  • Identify people within my Tribe of Influence who could help refer me to speaking opportunities.
  • Identify 30 events and organizations where you would like to speak.
  • Look for speaker submission guidelines.
  • Craft a speaker pitch for each organization.
  • Send out pitches.
  • Follow up on pitches.

See how this works? Identifying the tasks needed to reach your goals may also help you trim the list of goals into something that doesn’t feel completely overwhelming. And if you do feel overwhelmed by the tasks on your list, consider the next suggestion…

5) Hire Help

If you’ve been part of our community for a while, you’ve probably heard me sing the praises of virtual assistants. These are freelance contractors you can hire to handle all kinds of administrative tasks like updating your blog, helping with social media tasks, researching media opportunities, sending out pitches, and so much more.

You can hire an assistant for as few as five hours per month at rates ranging from $15 to $50/hour+, depending on experience level and location. Here are some resources for locating a virtual assistants:

If you don’t have a budget for help, contact local colleges to see if any interns are available. Depending on where you live, you may be able to help a student gain credits while you work together. (Note some states require interns to be paid.)

6) Create a Budget

In addition to hiring administrative support for your author business, you will inevitably have other expenses. Being an author essentially makes you a business owner. The good news is that many expenses for your author business can be deducted at tax time. This is an important reason to set up your business properly and speak with a qualified tax professional.

Here are some expenses you may incur:

  • Website services
  • Software and online services (email marketing tools, social media tools, etc.)
  • Office and shipping supplies
  • Postage
  • Publishing services
  • Publicity and marketing services
  • Memberships in trade associations (like the Nonfiction Authors Association!)
  • Industry conferences and events (like the Nonfiction Writers Conference!)
  • Education (like courses by the Nonfiction Authors Association!)
  • Travel to events
  • Advertisements (like Amazon ads)
  • Home office (speak with your tax pro about how you may be able to write off part of your utilities, cell phone, and more)

Every author incurs expenses but remember that these investments can also help you grow and improve your business.

7) Plan Task Time on Your Calendar

Most authors have families, day jobs, and endless commitments—including authors on The New York Times Bestsellers List. Very few adults have extra time to spare, and even fewer authors have the luxury of working on their books full-time. This means you must create a way to move goals forward by carving out the time needed to tackle those tasks under your goals list.

I’m writing this article early in the morning, before I’ve opened email and the day evolves into a typical frenzy of activity. Morning is when I’m most productive and able to focus, so it’s the time I dedicate to moving through the most important items on my To Do list. I silence my phone, avoid the internet, and make sure my day begins with one or more important tasks. Otherwise, my task list can easily get pushed aside.

When can you designate time to move your goals forward? You may have to take time away from something else. Here are some places you might find extra time:

  • Set your alarm earlier in the morning.
  • Watch less television.
  • Learn to say “No” to anything that doesn’t move you closer to your goals. (As a recovering people pleaser, I can tell you for some of us this takes practice and it gets easier the more you do it!)
  • Give yourself permission to step away from some commitments. I left a position on the board of directors for my favorite nonprofit this year because it requires time and energy I don’t have to spare. I plan to return in the future.
  • Check email less often. For me, email can easily become a time-sucking vortex. I only check it once, sometimes twice, a day and the amount of time reclaimed is astonishing.
  • Gain time by hiring help, if possible.

I also recommend scheduling time in your calendar to work on your goals. Treat that time as a protected commitment to yourself.

8) Battle Perfectionism

Hi, I’m Stephanie and I’m a recovering perfectionist. If you can relate, I would like to challenge you to join me in letting that angst go. If you’ve spent months on end stuck in a loop of editing and modifying a manuscript, blog post, presentation, or anything else, you may be sabotaging your success. At some point we must decide it’s good enough. For help, read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.

9) Be Kind to Yourself

Life happens to all of us and there are going to be seasons when your productivity wanes. A season could be a day, a week, a month, or months on end. Whether you’re derailed by personal challenges, grief, your day job, family, or anything else that is beyond your control, I have news for you. You’re human! Please forgive these momentary setbacks and give yourself some grace. You will get back on track when the time is right.

10) Create Visual Reminders

Prior to his passing, author Wayne Dyer would have a cover designed for his next book before he even began writing. He would wrap it around a book from his shelf and place it on his desk for inspiration. Some people create vision boards with inspirational photos, and others print out their goals and place the list in one or more visible locations. Visual reminders of your goals just might give you an added boost of motivation.

 

Don’t forget to take time throughout the year to appreciate your accomplishments. You could keep a running list or write them down and drop them in a jar on your desk. Victories large and small add up over time and you deserve to bask in the joy of your accomplishments.

Wishing you a phenomenal year ahead!

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