Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

          I’ve been on a steep learning curve in the writer’s life. Every Monday our writing group mentor encourages us to write a weekly goal. I like writing goals. Unfortunately, I don’t always reach them. Much like my “to-do list,” incomplete goals tumble into the next week. That’s okay. I get there eventually and slowly but surely, I reach my long-term goal.

            All this goal talk reminded me of the years I spent writing Education goals for something called an “Individualized Education Plan.” (I.E.P.) Marathon meetings for students transitioning into our program created marathon goal writing. Why am I telling you this? I might be able to help you avoid the “here a goal, there a goal” trap.

            Goals can be long-term and short-term. To get to your long-term goal, it is important to write down and accomplish the short-term goals. The short-term goals should help you reach your long-term goal. The idea is to complete all the short-term goals so eventually you accomplish your long-term goal.

            Now here is the tricky part. I’ve seen goals such as, “Review my book.” (Sometimes I let my students write their class goals.) They were intentionally vague teenagers and much smarter than they realized. Exhibit A. John took his book out, flipped through the pages and then tossed it under his desk and went back to doodling. He could claim that he “reviewed his book” and it would probably stand up in court. Being vague doesn’t work with goals that are meant to be accomplished. I explained to John Doodler, that goals were “specific” (Translated – “I need to see more.”) He gave me a wry grin and wrote, “I will read five pages of my book and write one paragraph about how bad it was.” (Seriously, he wrote that!) I had to give him some credit because he was specific.

            Goals also need to be observable and measurable. When John told me he read five pages, I seriously doubted it because I observed that he read the book while holding it upside down. He did write a paragraph. It was clear and measurable, so he accomplished that part of his goal. My goal was to escort him to the library so he could choose a book he might actually read.

Goals are long-term and short-term. They are specific, observable and measurable.

The moral of the story? Do better than John Doodler and write some real goals this week.

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