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Why Writers Need Measurability

Advanced tips for writers


It’s been proven that you’re more likely to achieve specific and measurable goals. So how do you make goals measurable? Leading on from yesterday’s post about chronological goals, let’s look at some of the above examples:

  • I know if I’ve been to Wimbledon 2020 or not. That’s easily measurable.
  • I know if I’ve published my novel or not. Again, easy to measure, but breaking it into smaller goals would help.
  • Have I been on several beach walks with my family? Yes. It’s not necessary for me to count to know this is true.
  • The ‘get better at cooking’ goal – that’s harder to measure.

Make sure the way you measure fits the goal and the reasons behind the goal. It might be tempting to measure the ‘get better at cooking’ goal by completing a cookery course – it’s likely to have a definite beginning and end point or you could set one yourself. But the course isn’t necessarily going to make you better at cooking!

A get better at goal is harder to measure, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Think about what you can’t do now and base your measure on that. Cook a three-course vegan meal? Make a pavlova? Cook a roast dinner from scratch for my family?

Measuring your writing goals

Say your writing goal was ‘make more money from my writing in 2021’, it might be tempting to measure by the number of submissions you made. Or, to echo the cooking example, to measure by whether you completed a particular writing course. But that’s not measuring how much money you made. What are my earnings from writing this year? How does this compare with my earnings from writing last year? is an accurate way to measure this goal.

You can test whether the measurability matches the goal by comparing the verb phrase (make more money, go to Wimbledon) in the goal to the measurement you’ve set up. If you end up disliking the measurability tool you’ve invented, it may mean you need to change the verb phrase in your goal (‘make more money’ becomes ‘send more pitches’, ‘go to Wimbledon’ becomes ‘watch Wimbledon on TV’).

Michael Hyatt suggests – in the full-focus planner – that you decide what your reward will be for achieving your goal. So another way to test whether your measurability matches your goal is to be honest about that reward. Will you have earned it?

Yes, of course, you can treat yourself any time – I fully endorse this – but if you’re going to treat yourself as a result of achieving this particular goal, you may as well ask yourself if would really have won that reward if you, say, go on a cookery course or wander around South West London aimlessly or write 1,000 words instead of 100,000.

Setting measurable value-based goals:

Here’s how to overcome the chronological-bias in goal setting, while still using the advantages of specificity and deadlines (whether they are self-imposed or otherwise):

  1. Know what your values are.
  2. Know where you want to be in 5 and 10 years time.
  3. Set value-based year-long goals.
  4. Break these down into specific, measurable goals.
  5. If in doubt, set up some habits or create a ‘get better at’ goal.
  6. Make sure the measurability (and the reward) you’ve set up fits the goal.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Louise xx

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