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Goals Drive You Crazy? Try Projects Instead

goalsOne of the reason I enjoyed Isabel Parlett the SoundBiteShaman‘s day of planning so much was becasue of her take on goals. The long and the short of it is she’s found it much more effective for her to think in terms of the projects she wants to get done, rather than working with very specific goals.

I felt my whole body relax when she said that!

On this solstice day I’ve decided this next year I’ll work with projects instead.


I get the idea that objectives should be Specific, Measureable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Timely and the acronym that results, SMART, frankly makes me want to gag.

Some of my favorite writing friends advocate goal setting. I actually like Lori Widmer’s One Easy Method for Reaching Your Freelance Writing Goals. John Soares is quite eloquent with his 13 Top Techniques For Achieving Your GoalsObviously goal setting works for some writers, maybe even most.

I have two problems with goals

When I look deeply into my feelings about goals I find two objections:

It’s so easy for me to make myself wrong when I set a goal and don’t make it

I totally get that this is just my stuff but over and over again when I’ve failed to reach a goal I’ve felt guilty, stupid, and, well, you get the idea.

Some would say it’s because I’ve set the intentions too high or made them too big, or haven’t broken them into baby steps, or something. That all may be true, although I’ve tried all sorts of ways to chunk them down into more manageable baby steps.

SMART goals feel rigid, tight and constricting

Somehow I feel constrained by so-called SMART goals. They make me feel dumb. They feel rigid and as if I don’t dare let anything new into my life if it doesn’t support that darn acronym.

Again, I realize this is not the intention. In fact, many people find working with this standard helpful, or so I’m told.

Why projects seem to work so far

I’m loving setting up projects. Mostly they are lists and lists seem much easier to work with. I can add and subtract from them. I can move their order around easily. Here’s a sample project list concerning this website:

  • Continue twice a week posts/once a week newsletter
  • Keep adding ads
  • Ebooks
    • Get sales links working
    • Redo sales pages
    • Edit the two oldest ones
    • Create a simple marketing plan for them
  • Emphasize the forum more
  • Get help with the design

If I get all this done in 2016 I’ll feel great. If I don’t I won’t feel like a failure because it’s just a list, just a project. Somehow I find this a much more friendly approach to deciding what’s up for me in 2016.

And if you’re one who resists formal goal setting, you’re welcome to join me in creating projects for the new year.

I’ll keep you posted on mine and let you know how well this approach works for me.

Write well and often,





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