Goal setting vs. plan making – what matters more?

Let me ask you a question – do you have publishing goals or do you have a plan for writing? Perhaps a trick question, as you may very well think to yourself, don’t I need both?!? However, what I want to clarify in this post is that goals are different than plans and one should hold greater weight than the other in your daily writing efforts.

So let’s start with identifying the difference between goal setting and plan making.

Why success is not enough

Are you successful? What does success look like? Is it a specific number of published works? Is it a certain amount of annual royalties? Is it the completion of a degree or the achievement of a specific title or position? How do you define success?

Now that you have a clear image of success in your mind, ask yourself, is success the goal? Will those checkmarks of achievement satisfy your pursuit of happiness and meaning or are they merely stepping stones to something more?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be successful – and you should too – but success is not enough.

An academic perspective on goal tracking and time management

The focus of our most recent #AcWriChat TweetChat event was goal tracking and time management. During this event we offered a number of resources from our blog to support participants in their academic pursuits.

Common to our TweetChat events, we asked several questions to promote personal reflection and sharing of ideas. Marc Ouellette, a regular participant in these discussions shared his approaches in response. Below is a summary of our questions and his contributions from the event.

6 Ways to take control of your day

Dr. Jane Jones, academic editor and consultant at Up In Consulting, recently presented, as part of the TAA fall webinar series, “The Academic Juggle: Managing Your Writing in a World of Commitments”. Focused on the academic who is juggling multiple commitments and projects, Dr. Jones shared the following six strategies for taking back control of your day, reducing the overwhelm, and feeling more accomplished professionally.

Don’t manage time, manage goals

While you can’t actually manage time – because it operates independently of you — you can manage your goals, said Susan Robison, a psychologist and faculty development consultant with Professor DeStressor, during her 2009 TAA Conference session, “Time Management: Why You Don’t Need It, Can’t Do It Anyway – And What To Do Instead.”

“One of the things that the research on time management workshops show, is that they don’t work,” she said. “What happens to people emotionally is they come out of the workshops feeling absolutely overwhelmed by a thousand techniques they’re not going to do, and so they’re not going to manage their time any better.”