June 8, 2021
Note From Rochelle
How are you doing with those big hairy audacious goals you set back in January?
If you’re struggling—or if you forgot about your goals!—you will want to read today’s post. My friend and colleague Elizabeth Cole has written a helpful article about how setting small goals and taking tiny steps forward might just be the solution you need.
Elizabeth Cole is the author of many novels, including the following Secrets of the Zodiac series (which I highly recommend)! They’re romance novels featuring fierce, forward-thinking women with a dash of mystery–just my kind of read!
Small Goals, Big Wins:
The One Percent Solution
by Elizabeth Cole
We tend to lionize people who make huge changes to their lives. We like the high-stakes Hollywood drama of “go big or go home”. But in real life, gigantic shifts in routine don’t work (see also: New Year’s Resolutions). To be more successful at actually implementing positive changes, it’s best to start small. VERY small.
By choosing an extremely manageable goal and just focusing on that specific goal, you’ll have a much better shot at not just making it (which is nice), but also at understanding what steps worked to achieve that goal.
Then you can repeat that to increase the outcome, bit by bit, until your tiny change has become a huge difference. For example, you will simply not be able to complete a marathon if you don’t run at all on a daily basis. Duh, right? So why would you think you can write a full novel in a week if you have no consistent practice of writing?
However, you can choose to walk, then jog, then run on a regular basis. Start with a walk around the block twice a day. Then walk to the grocery store. Then jog a mile a couple mornings a week. Then do it 4 times a week. Then run 3 miles a day. A year later, you’ll be ready to consider signing up for a marathon, because you know what you’re capable of.
Same for writing. Or marketing. Or whatever.
Case Study: Marketing
I don’t know about you, but I spent most of 2020 languishing, unenthused about writing, worrying about coronavirus sneaking into my house, and generally not being productive. But I knew that I had to make some serious changes in 2021 and beyond. One aspect of my author life that always bothered me was my poor marketing skills. I have a reader mailing list, but I hadn’t sent out a newsletter since before lockdown. I have a Facebook reader group, but very few members. I have a Twitter account, but not a ton of followers.
So I have made the choice to get better at these forms of social outreach. But not dramatically! I decided that my goal is to increase my follower count by 1% on each platform every month. Yep, you read that correctly. A whopping 1%.
- Twitter: I had 662 Twitter followers when I wrote this in May, so success looks like getting to 669 by the end of June.
- Facebook Reader group: I have 98 members on my Facebook Reader group, so I want to get to 99 by the end of June.
I have a presence on other platforms, but I’m focusing on these two right now. Remember, baby steps. But HOW will I do this? Well, this is where experimenting comes in.
- For Twitter, I will tweet more than… (blows dust off computer, scares away spiders) …once a month. I will research and use relevant hashtags more, and follow more people in my field (Historical Romance). Basically, I will try to improve lots of little things to achieve my chosen metric, and through doing that, I will create a tiny but useful change that I can apply month after month.
- For Facebook, much of the same rules apply. I’ll post more regularly and often to my reader group, the Cold Hearted Cadre. I’ll invite more people who are likely to be interested in a group that discussed romance and tea and cats. Speaking of, want to join us? The link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1862500837299608
- For my mailing list, I will send more interesting and entertaining newsletters more frequently, thus encouraging readers to recommend that their friends join in the fun. I will add a sign-up button on my website to make it easier for new readers to join the list (yes, I KNOW I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS YEARS AGO). I will talk about my newsletter more in other forums (like Twitter and Facebook!) to expand people’s awareness of it. (Sign up here: https://elizabethcole.co/)
None of these items are particularly challenging. They’re not supposed to be. This process is about incremental improvement. My goal is to show myself (and you!) that setting a low bar gives you the chance to see what incremental changes can do, without committing a ton of time and money. It may also show you that succeeding is easier than you feared.
I will record my results over the summer (yay, spreadsheets!) and report back here on the blog. I intend to come back with actual information about what worked and what didn’t, and I encourage you to try a few tiny goals for your own writing career this summer. Maybe commit to writing one more word or sentence per day on your current novel. Or maybe you want to reach out to one more person who works in your field for a business book you’re writing. Choose one thing that you can improve upon in a very little way, and commit to making that happen. Focus on doing one thing better, instead of worrying about doing lots of things you can’t pay attention to.
So get ready, because it’s time to go small!!!
To read more about the small step method:
- Check out my blog post: https://writenowcoach.com/take-a-small-step-forward/
- Watch my video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=696933474024004
About the Author: Elizabeth Cole is an award-winning author of historical romance, including the Swordsworn Knights and the Secrets of the Zodiac series. She can be found hanging around museums, coffeeshops, and graveyards…but not after dark. Elizabeth loves hearing from readers. Connect with her and sign up to get early alerts for new titles at elizabethcole.co