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Why New Year's Resolutions Make Dollars and Sense
by Susan Denney

Even as I’m recommending that you make New Year’s resolutions, I can hear your objections loud and clear. I can hear you saying to me, “You want me to make New Year’s resolutions? Give me a break. I just finished the holiday season and I’m exhausted. I’d be a lot more interested in advice on how to pay off my Christmas Visa bill or how to get the red and green M&M’s out of the living room carpet. I’ve never made a list of resolutions that I’ve kept for more than two weeks. A new set of broken resolutions will only make me feel more guilty than the last set I didn’t keep.”

Objections taken. Making a list of idealistic and unattainable promises never did anyone any good. And they never made a dent in anyone’s MasterCard bill. Resolving to be a better person, to make more money or to achieve world peace just isn’t going to make things happen. But writing down specific goals is the key to more people’s success than you would believe possible. If you’re interested in making more money and finding more writing success in 2007, read on.

As writers, we are all aware of the power of putting an idea on paper. Financial planners, educators and even the Mayo Clinic agree that writing down goals is an important step in achieving what we want. The results of writing goals down can seem like magic. For reasons not completely understood, the act of writing down a goal makes it a part of us. Our mind will work on achieving it whether we think about it actively or not. I was hopeful but skeptical when I was first challenged to write down five financial goals for my writing. It seemed too easy. All I was supposed to do was give them careful thought, write them down on a piece of paper and put them in a prominent place in my home. I chose my bathroom mirror. Some of them seemed impossibly far off at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year, I found that I had reached three of those five goals. It was my most financially successful year of writing to date.

In order for goals to work, they must have four characteristics. First, they must be attainable. It wouldn’t be right for me to set a goal of selling twelve romance novels in a year. I still have a day job, after all. I just don’t have enough hours in the day to write them. But I could attain a goal of selling one romance novel. Secondly, goals must be realistic. My goal to earn as much money as J. K. Rowling wouldn’t be as realistic as the goal of making $650.00 a month on magazine articles. That wouldn’t be bad pay for a part-time job. Thirdly, goals must be specific enough to measure success. If I set a goal of doing more writing in 2007, it would be hard to judge whether I had done so or not. But if I set a goal of writing at least ten hours a week, I would have a benchmark for success. Lastly, a goal should be positive. A negative goal will not inspire or change behavior. “I won’t get so many rejection letters,” is a negative goal. A positive goal would be, “I will receive three acceptance letters a month.”

Here are some examples of specific writing goals that a writer might make for 2007.

  • “I will write for at least ten hours a week.”
  • “I will write at least five days a week.”
  • “I will send off at least seven query letters a month.”
  • “I will attend two writers’ conferences this year.”
  • “I will earn at least $350.00 dollars each month selling magazine articles.”
  • “I will publish twenty-five articles this year.”
  • “I will sell eight confession stories this year.”
  • “I will set up three book-signings for the novel that I published last year.”
  • “I will publish a new novel this year.”
  • “I will earn at least $12,000.00 dollars this year by writing.”
  • “I will break into eight higher paying markets this year.”
  • “I will exercise at least three times a week so that I will have more energy and stamina for writing.”
  • “I will save every writing receipt that might be tax-deductible and put it in a special folder beginning today.”
  • “I will read two books in my chosen genre each month.”
  • “I will keep a writing notebook with me at all times so that I can write down ideas as they come to me.”

If you really want to guarantee success, divide the big goals into steps. For example, if I set a goal to publish an unfinished novel this year, I might subdivide that goal into the following:

  • “I will finish the manuscript by March 15th, 2007.”
  • “I will finish editing the manuscript by April 25th, 2007.”
  • “I will send the manuscript off to a publisher or agent by May 18th, 2007.”

Only you can set dates, amounts and numbers that will work for you. But don’t be afraid to think big. As long as your goals are attainable and realistic, the sky’s the limit. Also, limit your goals to five. Any more than that and your brain will probably opt out. Prepare to be amazed when you meet at least three of your goals this year.

I’d love to stay and chat, but I have some goal-setting of my own to do today. Happy New Year!

© Copyright 2007, Susan Denney

Susan Denney is a freelance writer living in Pennsylvania. She has published children’s fiction and nonfiction as well as adult articles on a variety of topics. Check out her website at www.susandenney.com.

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