Ep 196: Next-Level Writer – Plan and Persist

WritingEp 196: Next-Level Writer – Plan and Persist

Ep 196: Next-Level Writer – Plan and Persist

[Ep 196]

Last time, I asked: Where do you want to be in a year?

You may have read that and set a big, hairy, audacious goal—a BHAG. Or maybe you called it a “stretch goal.” You want to aim high and not settle for mediocre.

You’re excited! You’re an optimist.

“In a year, I’m going to be at the top of my game, more successful than I’ve ever been.”
Big, Fast Success
If you want it bad and can handle a focused, year-long push, you may nail it. If you have big resources to support big goals, this stretch-goal approach may be the way you level up fast. In a year (or less!) you may be the one saying:

“I built a substantial author platform in six months and landed my book contract in eight. I’m on track to launch next year!”
“I’m making a full-time income through my website now that I’ve quadrupled my blog traffic.”
“I’m the keynote speaker at two major conferences thanks to my podcast taking off after just a few months.”

Falling Short of Goals
But if your time, money, energy, skills, experience, and support are limited, you might not achieve a big, hairy, audacious goal—even if you want it bad. And falling short of your goal can be demotivating. You may end up saying:

“I set out to gain 100,000 subscribers on my email list in three months, but I only have a thousand.”
“My plan to submit an essay each month fell way short.”
“No, I didn’t finish writing my novel in three months.”

The macro plan sets us on a course toward a goal. We see the target. We take aim.

The good news is that even if we fall short, we may be further along than if we had no goal at all.

The bad news is that we may end up so discouraged and disheartened at what seems like lack of progress or failure, we give up.

If we’re setting an aggressive goal that is too much of a stretch, we may need to re-examine it before we form the plan to get there.
Halve a Goal
After Jon Acuff wrote a book called Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters, he realized people may not need as much help getting started—after all, the beginning of projects and resolutions is the fun part. It’s the middle and the end of projects where we sag and feel stuck and give up.

Acuff wanted people to see their goals through to the end, so he wrote a follow-up book called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift Of Done. For Finish, Acuff commissioned a study with the University of Memphis that concluded “small goals, when you cut your goal in half, are 63% more successful than big crazy BHAGs.”1

So if you set out with a BHAG last week, consider chopping your goal in half.

You can adjust the time and give yourself twice the time to complete it: instead of a two-month deadline, extend to four; if you think editing a draft will take 30 minutes, allow an hour.
You can adjust the task: instead of committing to 2000 words a day, drop to a thousand; instead of six Instagram posts per week, try three.
You can adjust the number of goals: if you’re trying to raise visibility and name recognition by speaking, posting on social media, starting a YouTube channel, writing guest posts, appearing on podcasts, and pitching articles to mainstream magazines, drop half of those activities and focus energy and attention on a few.

Research to Plan
Find out what your writing world is like. What do people expect in that world? What are the successful people doing? Do you want or need to follow a similar path? What do you need to do first to move in that same direction? What level are you at and what’s the next level?

Could you connect with people in groups and meetups or at conferences and retreats? Could you find a mentor or coach? Could you partner with someone to collaborate?

Make lists.

Make decisions.

Make your plan based on your goal.
Enact, Evaluate, and Adjust the Plan
While your plan may be aggressive and you’re prepared for a aggressive burst of activity to level up fast, play the long game.

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