Setting goals you can control

by | Dec 23, 2019 | The Author Journey, The Failure Chronicles | 0 comments

While I’ll be framing this post around my author journey, the setting of goals is universal. As my author journey sputters along, one of the topics I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is what I ultimately want out of all this. Believe it or not, it’s not fame and fortune. (Though I can’t say I would turn either down.) One of the main goals was I wanted to be a full-time author – to simply be able to make a living off of my writing. Seems like legitimate goal on the surface, but it was creating a tidal wave of problems underneath.

Why? Because, I really have no control over whether or not I eventually become a full-time author. Sure, there are things I can do to help the process along. I can market my books, have them edited, have professional covers made. The nice aspect of being an independent author is I have complete control over all of the above. But that control will not necessarily translate into a full-time career. Just like landing a traditional publishing contract does not automatically equal full-time author.

Reading is subjective. What people like and what they don’t like is subjective. In the end, whether or not I am able to one day be a full-time author is completely dependent on whether enough readers like and purchase my books.

And it took me some time to realize, I can’t control that. It doesn’t matter how well I write, in what genre I write, what characters I write or how I spin the story. Some may love it. Some may hate it. A simple scroll through reviews on some of my favorite books was all I needed to drive that point home.

It was while listening to a podcast episode of The Creative Penn the lightbulb went off. I wish I had made note of the particular episode, but I didn’t. In it, however, the topic came up about focusing too much on the final product instead of the process of creating it. Something I had been doing.

It made me realize the issue with my goal. It was unrealistic and completely impossible to work toward on its own.

Which meant I had to go back to the drawing board and find a goal I could control. And what goal is that?

Easy. Write the damn books.

That small shift in goal setting changed much of my thought process. Instead of focusing on learning marketing for authors and spending time on Photoshop to make awesome covers, writing and reading skyrocketed to the top of my to-do list.

Seems like a no-brainer, but when your goal is to make a living at something, the amount of knowledge you have to sift through to get there is a never-ending loop of new words and new processes you don’t have time to implement just yet.

But, when your goal is simply to finish the books, then that knowledge will come as you move through the process. You’ve heard about putting the cart before the horse? That’s what I did.

And this could be used for any business, especially creative businesses. What’s your goal? And can you control it? If the answer is no, then find another goal.