How Do You Measure Success?

If you’re like me, you’re taking a look at your 2011 goals to see how you did over the past year. When I set goals, I use the SMART method, which is popular in project management and business. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I also believe most goals cannot be measured without attaching numbers, but numbers often don’t tell the whole story. My goals are focused on two things: writing and professional development. Writers whose work is ready for publication also need to think about publishing and marketing goals as well. Here were my 2011 goals:

Goal One: Publish my first novel, Small Change. I made several rounds of line edits, hired a book editor to work on the beginning section, researched self-publishing options since I wasn’t making any progress going the traditional route, wrote a publicity plan and a news release, started my blog, and arranged for the cover art. As soon as I receive the final cover art, I plan to upload the book through the Kindle Direct Publishing program. So I didn’t achieve my first goal, but I made a lot of progress.

Goal Two: Produce a 100,000-word novel. I failed again. I produced a 53,083-word first draft of a novel as part of the National Novel Writing Month competition and I am 40,000 words into my current work-in-progress, a political novella called, Life of the Party: A Tale of Politics, Rap Music and Social Media.

Goal Three: Start a fiction writing blog. Check mark. My blog, A New Fiction Writer’s Forum, made its debut in September.  As of December 22, I was up to 47 blog posts in less than three months. At 500 words each, that’s another 23,500 words, but I don’t count those toward my annual 100,000-word goal.

Goal Four: Establish a social media presence. Check again. I started a Facebook author page and opened a Twitter account.

Goal Five: Attend a writer’s conference. Another check mark. In May I attended the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association’s annual CAPA-U meeting last May.

Goal Six: Read 25-30 books a year. I’m up to 32 books and still going. I will share my list next week.

Goal Seven: Engage online and in-person with other writers on a regular basis. Okay, this goal has no number attached to it, but I did read and comment on writers’ blogs daily and I attended most of my fiction writers’ group meetings.

What matters most about goals is that you have to decide which ones are most important and focus on achieving those goals. Publishing my novel was clearly a paramount goal and all others took a back seat. Looking back, I made as much progress on getting my novel published as was possible, given other demands on my time, while still meeting several other goals.

I also place a lot of emphasis on producing a 100,000-word novel each year. I didn’t foresee the political novella; it just grabbed hold of my imagination and off I went. One of my 2012 goals is to publish it during the upcoming presidential election year. I will share the rest of my 2012 goals next week.

What were your goals for 2011? How did you do in achieving them?

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