migoals planner

Stop daydreaming and start doing: Setting your creative goals

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “I’d love to do xyz, but I don’t have [insert excuse here]” I wouldn’t need to work.

I can count on one hand the number of people in my university classes who stuck with film-making and writing. I was one of them. Now I earn my whole income from creativity, whether that’s producing videos, photography or writing.

Well this is the tough love blog post for the start of 2017.

If you want to achieve your creative goals, you gotta set some and stick to them.

Simple as that.

You can have as much talent in the world, but if you ain’t actually doing anything with it, then the person who you perceive as less talented but has committed to their plan has more chance of success.

Last year I wrote about the terrifying act of making resolutions. I made one goal. Write a novel. I did it. Let’s face it, I kicked ass.

This year, I’ve upped the ante by buying a MiGoals planner. I have a lot of goals for 2017.

migoals planner

I’m a stationery nerd and I’d checked out a number of goals planners before buying this one at the Big Design Market in Melbourne. It’s awesome. The diary asks you about your passions, your goals and then gives you the diary pages to plan out how you will achieve these goals.

You can use all the digital tools you want, but you can’t dismiss an A5 diary in front of your desk as easily as a phone notification. It’s there. It’s meant to bother you.

Us creatives, sometimes we can be a bit airy-fairy, getting lost in the la la land of our creative brains. Putting your goals down on paper makes them tangible.

So how do you set your creative goals?

Break it down

What I like about the MiGoals planner is that it asks you to set goals, then break them down into realistic tasks. Big goals can be daunting. Take writing a book. You have this big, daunting mess of 70,000 words looming, and you have to get from nothing to 260 pages. Break it down into little parts. I broke my novel down into research, planning, writing and editing phases. That way you can tick these things off along the way. Gold star.

You can see my plan to write 12 short stories broken down below.

migoals planner

Hold yourself accountable

One of the reasons I always write a goals setting post each year is to hold myself accountable to you, my readers. If it’s on the blog, it’s out there. I’ve got to do it. No excuses. It would be a bit embarrassing if I came back at the end of the year and said nope, didn’t do it (without a pretty extenuating reason). Sure, life happens, but if your excuse for not doing what you want is bingeing on TV shows, then you probably need to set some goals with a friend and make sure you’re doing something towards them every week.

Why do it? You sound like one of those people

Goals don’t have to be huge, like fix climate change. They can be simple things, like spending time with a friend each week or planning an overseas trip. For me, I feel deeply unsettled if I’m not doing something every day towards my goals. I feel empty. Digging away at those little goal nuggets leaves me satisfied that at 5pm I can switch off and take a break. I haven’t wasted a day. It makes me legitimately happy to look back on the things I’ve achieved. It’s been hard work, lots of slog, but I did it. I chose the hard road.

So what are my goals for this year?

Here’s that accountability bit. Some of my goals for this year include:

  • Writing 12 short stories in 12 months (more on this challenge next week…)
  • Writing a new blog post every week
  • Exercise 3 times per week
  • Read 52 books
  • Sell the novel I wrote last year
  • Set up passive income streams through stock photo sites

I really want to encourage you to take that first step and put one thing down on paper now that you want to do this year. What’s your goal for 2017? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.


2 responses to “Stop daydreaming and start doing: Setting your creative goals”

  1. I remember the days before you liked short stories. I knew you would come around to my side eventually! 😛

    Best of luck with your goals this year, Kat! I have faith in you.

    I’ve been doing some goal setting as well, loosely based on Jeff Vandermeer’s advice in Booklife. One thing I thought was useful about that book was the advice to break down the elements of goals into the parts that you have total control over, and those that are largely outside your control.

    For instance, it would be a shame if you considered yourself to have failed your yearly goals due to the ‘Sell the novel’ goal (or worse, sold yourself short in a rush to meet that goal), as that one is partially outside your control and some agents or publishers might take almost a year getting back to you – making the timeframe a bit of a risk. So it might be worth slightly altering it to something like ‘send the novel to X number of agents or publishers’. But that is only really an issue if you are like me and likely to get hung if you end up not meeting a certain goal! If having that particular goal works for you and doesn’t have any significant downsides then go for whatever works. You could end up selling it to the first place you submit anyway, rendering it a non-issue.

    My goals need some updating now I’m doing a PhD, but they generally look something like:

    What do I want: I want to continue to improve my writing. I want to get a novel and a short story collection published. I want to sell stories to higher prestige markets. I want to win an award. I want to diversify and improve my author profile both nationally and internationally.

    (Contains both controllable and uncontrollable aspects).

    Five year plan: Complete and submit one novel. Complete and submit a short story collection.

    One year plan: Have at least one story published in a market with higher prestige than previous stories.

    Monthly task: Write a minimum of half a short story or one novel chapter each month. Read one book for the purpose of personal writing development or research. Publish a book recommendation or other article on blog.

    Weekly task: Keep finished stories on rotation subbing to markets. Research markets and story ideas.

  2. Thanks Michelle, yes I’ve embraced the short story… It’s a real challenge for me to write short stories but it’s good for me to develop as a writer. You make a good point to break things down realistically, you don’t want to peg your dreams on something outside of your control. Me personally, I like to put down big things – if I don’t get there this year, I put it on next year’s goals. Because being honest, selling my novel is the goal, as lofty and ambitious as it is.

    You have some awesome goals for 2017 so let’s keep each other going!!

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