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Saturday, January 5, 2013

How to Stop Saying Someday and Attain Your Goals Now

It is that time of year when we look back, count up victories, suck up disappointments, and gaze forward with renewed resolve that this is the year to finally achieve that goal.  

This time last year as my 60th birthday loomed, I tried to fathom how an age that sounded so old could possibly apply to me. Still in denial a year later, I continue to think of myself as 40-something—just with more experience than other people “my age.”

Turns out, my 60th birthday opened a domino of new doors. Door number one was eligibility for early retirement, leading to a new part-time job, giving me more time for writing, allowing me to realize a goal I have chased for many years—publishing my novel, Peace by Piece. 

Sure working less helped, but it took more than just the gift of newfound time. Here are some of the deliberate steps that put my long time goal within reach.  

Step 1: Be specific. To get where you want to go, be specific about your destination.  

From the time I was twenty-something, I fantasized about writing a book. Finally, 15 years ago, I joined a creative writing group.  When asked at the first meeting, why I was there, I announced, “I want to write a book.” My goal was specific from the start.

Step 2: Chunk it down. To achieve a goal, especially a lofty goal, it helps to break it down into the concrete nuts and bolts that will get it done.  

I learned to write creatively and wrote a novel one action at a time: regularly attending writing workshops, seeking critiques, reading books on the craft of writing, earning an MFA, editing and rewriting draft after draft.   

Step 3Have a plan. Research says planning doubles your chance to attain your goal. Good intentions account for 20-30% of goal attainment. That means 70-80% of the time intentions do not do it! You need a plan.

I will write every week is an intention not a plan. My plan included specific commitments: to write at least five hours every Saturday, two hours on Sunday, and always have a draft new chapter ready for critique at my weekly writing group.

Step 4Include the power of If/Then in your plan. If/then planning means deciding in advance what you’ll do when something derails your plan.  

Life is unpredictable. Although I considered my writing time sacred and non-negotiable, stuff happened. My if/then plan included things like, if we have company for the weekend, then, I will get up an hour early all week to write in the early morning.

Without my if/then plan, I might have felt resentful or powerless about missing my writing time.

Word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, you might say Piece by Peace (pun intended) these steps helped me write an entire book. 

How about you? What’s your life goal? And what will you do to make 2013 the year you hold your dream in your hands?  


  1. What's my life goal? That's such a big question. I'll be fascinated to see how many people answer that for you. I'm not sure I really have one big hairy audacious goal (also known as a BHAG). Like most people I have little wishes, like losing belly fat, getting my house in better shape (to sell sometime in the not so distant future), making order in my crazy garden, writing something good, etc. I do lists and chunk the plan into small steps. I haven't formally done the if/then but I can see the power of that approach. I have been hearing how bad we are at keeping New Year's resolutions, so I haven't made any for 2013. I want to try and maintain an inner peace this year, avoid getting caught up in sturm and drang at work. Hope to take an exotic vacation -- somewhere far away and warm. I think I'll get started on planning that now, step by step. Thanks for the coaching, Carol.

  2. My BHAG is to retire from the working world. Pretty specific and hopefully achievable on my terms and timeframe. Nice piece with good advice.

    1. Thanks Cathy. early retirement was my goal, too. In fact, for years the "Oprah book success fantasy" as an escape from the corporate world helped fuel my writing.
      Funny, that when I had the chance to early retire, I choose to keep working, but part-time, so as you say, on my terms.

  3. Four "simple" yet powerful steps. For authors, it's so common to get caught up in the overwhelming thought of creating 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, etc., thousand amazing words to create their personal masterpiece. Love the "If/Then" concept. It's a bit-by-bit, putting-it-together scenario that creates the book that has merit and sales--not the massive "cram it all in a few days", rush it to ebook format, announce to whoever is in your immediate circle that there is a "book" that is being advocated by so many... and then scratch the head and gumble about no one is buying the book. Wonderful news about your book. Good for you Carol--your approach of piece-by-piece created peace. Nice.

    1. Judith "your approach of piece-by-piece created peace. Nice",
      Love that, and may have to "borrow" it :)

  4. Jeanne Fragale KellerJanuary 06, 2013

    Carol, this was a great piece! Very informative but not "textbook". And I love, LOVE the cover picture!! Congrats big sister. I'm so very proud of you and always have admiration for you & your fierce determination.
    Love you, my sister and friend. Jeanne

  5. Mine is the same as yours, Carol—to write and publish a book. It came true for me on Sept. 20, 2012, and now I'm half way through the first draft of my second novel. I'm so looking forward to reading "Peace by Piece." Congratulations!