Plans Aren’t Set in Stone — But Goals Should Be

It’s Friday, and I’d usually be posting a “What I’m Reading” post, but I’m putting that on hold this week. I’m still reading the books from last week and didn’t want to post the same thing twice.

This post is inspired by not posting my Reading post. Before 2022 started, I made a commitment to myself that I’d post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

That was my goal.

I came up with a whole blogging plan from that goal–the schedule, the series of posts, and even the blog templates. It worked brilliantly until today.

I saw it coming on Wednesday. There was no way I was going to finish those books by today. I had three options: (1) rush through the books and lose any kind of enjoyment in them, (2) Skip the post, or (3) come up with a new post that was helpful and not just so I could cross it off my list.

I Am a Planner

Goals are destinations. They are the prize we get for doing all the hard work, for sticking it out. Plans are how we get to the goal.

I use this thinking to plan out my stories in advance. My characters have clear, solid goals. The world I set them in, the other players, and their own history help set the heroes’ plan/route to successfully attaining their goal.

But sometimes, like my outline for Running the Asset, another route opens up as the writing gets underway. In these circumstances, having a detailed plan could sound like a waste of time… it’s not. Having a plan allows for the exploration of different story avenues. It shuts down others immediately because, having gone through the planning, you know they have nothing to do with the goal. Decision making time about what routes to go down is cut right down.

So, How Does this Relate to this Post?

I had a goal for today–get a helpful post out today and not just filler. One of the three options (skipping the post) was cut out straight away as it went against my goal. Rushing through the read was not helpful to me and not helpful to anyone looking for book recommendations. So, the only option was to write this post.

How to Set a Solid Goal

Goal setting is one of those things I used to struggle with. I did all the Tony Robbins CDs, read all the self-help books on it, but I still got nowhere. It wasn’t until I read H. R. D’Costa’s Sizzling Story Outlines that I finally got it. In that book, she shares that the business world uses SMART goals.

A SMART Goal is…

S – specific (it’s a solid thing like losing 10lbs)

M – measurable (the scale says you lost 10lbs or you didn’t)

A – actionable (you have a clear set of steps to achieve it)

R – realistic (you can actually accomplish this goal)

T – time-bound (lose 10lbs in three months).

Once you have a solid goal like the one above, you’ve got a roadmap, a decision-making tool to help you reach your destination. You know that to lose those 10lbs in three months that you shouldn’t have that extra cookie; you know that you need to workout.

But that’s where the beauty of planning comes in. Planning allows you to be flexible, helps you to come up with alternatives, fast. Yes, you need to workout, but you get to choose how you do it. You get to analyse whether running is the best way to accomplish your goal. Maybe you had an ankle injury (this is me!), and running is no longer an option… you might decide that an elliptical trainer is a way to go as it’s low impact.

No matter if youโ€™re a meticulous planner or a broad strokes planner, if you have a solid goal youโ€™ll always find your route to success.

How Do You Plan or Not Plan?

Are you a planner in your daily life? What benefits have you found? What methods do you use to reach your goals if you’re not a planner?

Thanks for reading; I’ll be back with a new “What I’m Reading” post next Friday. See you soon!

Author: Susan T. Braithwaite

Royal Navy veteran from Scotland. My journey into writing started with a screenwriting certificate program at UCLA Ext. Since then, I've worked as a freelance content writer, erotica author, proofreader, professional beta reader, and content editor. I'm now working hard on my dream writing career: romantic suspense author. When I'm not writing, I can be found drinking too much coffee, obsessing over yarn, and planning world domination with my husband, jezbraithwaite.blog, and our squirrel army.โ€‹

7 thoughts on “Plans Aren’t Set in Stone — But Goals Should Be”

  1. Oh yes, SMART objectives. I remember them well from a former life in performance management. It seems (it was) so long ago, but I goals and plans were essential. Outside of work I’ve always been a planner too – how else would we have got to South Africa? But…big but, when it comes to story-telling, nah. I have ideas, but I let the characters the work and carry the story forward. We kinda know where we’re going and we sorta plan for the end before we get there, but for me and fiction, planning always falls apart. It’s weird, because I’m such a control-freak in ‘real life’. But everyone’s different, and what works for one writer doesn’t for another. We’re definitely chalk and cheese when it come to our writing, Susan!

    1. I think without plans and goals I’d still be fumbling around in the dark trying to get things done.

      As for writing, yeah, we walk different roads. Neither of which is right or wrong, just right for us. (My guys are all ex-military like me, so we like having a plan–no matter how vague–or well, things go boom when they shouldn’t ๐Ÿ˜„ )

  2. Definitely a planner, but I learned I needed to be flexible because life has a way of throwing curve balls on a regular basis.

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