Most creative people like to set goals at the start of a new year. Full of enthusiasm, we plan out what we hope to achieve in the next twelve months. But those are short-term goals. Our writing career will hopefully last much longer than the coming year. How many of us make long term goals? I've been thinking about longer-term goals lately. The journey went something like this.
I turned 40 last year. As you can imagine, it was a time of reflection. I looked back and realised it had been 20 years since I had turned 20. What would my writing career look like, I wondered, if I had taken it more seriously in my twenties. It’s not that I didn’t write during that time, but I could have taken it more seriously. Improved my craft more, and more actively pursued publication. Life was simpler back then. I didn’t have a wife and kids to support. I didn’t have a mortgage to worry about. I had all the time in the world and no responsibilities.
True, the self-publishing revolution hadn’t happened back when I was in my twenties so I wouldn’t have had the tools that are available to me today, but I would have been ready to take advantage of them on day one. Heck, I could have even become one of those early Kindle millionaires. You never know.
Don’t get me wrong. 40 is hardly the twilight years, but I began to feel like I’d wasted my opportunity. That I was too far over the hill to really make it like so many others had.
A little looking back is healthy, but I was getting into regret territory. I had to pull myself out of that. Instead, I started to think about the next 20 years. That would make me 60. My eyes lit up. In another 20 years I’d only be 60. I wouldn’t exactly be ready for my deathbed at that point. What if I were to retire early, at 60, and transition to full-time writing at that point. It’d be more of a career change, than a retirement.
If that was the plan, it meant I had 20 years to work toward a self-sustaining writing career. Two decades. Suddenly that seemed achievable. It’s not like I was putting off becoming a successful author until I was 60. To write full time by that point, I would already have needed to become quite successful.
So that’s now my long-term goal. I want to be able to quit the day job and write full time by the time I reach 60 years of age. I have two decades to achieve it. (And if I take that goal seriously, and work hard toward it, I may achieve it sooner.)
This is all well and good, but long-term goals are just dreams unless we break them down into steps. What must we do practically in order to achieve the larger goal? This is where the short-term goals come in. This is where we make it practical. But now, we are designing our short-term goals with a bigger picture in mind.
Examples of short-term goals to achieve a big dream like mine above could be writing every day (or 6 days a week), setting aside money for editing costs and cover design, or publishing a book by a certain date.
And there's one other important aspect that is easy for forget.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
We can make all these plans ourselves, but if we don't involve God, or consider how those goals fit in with his will and desires, we can be working at cross-purposes with him.
What about you?
Okay, it's your turn. Have you set any goals for 2019? Do you have a long-term goal that you're working towards?
Adam is a great lover of stories, enjoying them in books, movies, scripted TV and computer games. Adam discusses these on his own youTube show – Stories with Adam Collings.
Find him at adamdavidcollings.com or sign up to his email list for a short story.