Got goals? Learn from the pros!

Last week we discussed #goals. This week, we’ll talk about how to achieve those goals.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process that takes a lot of time and effort:
Step 1: Learn from the pros.
Step 2: Do what the pros do.
Step 3: Achieve goal.

No matter what your goals is – writing a book, becoming a MIG and TIG welder, budgeting your finances – the best way to fulfill those goals is to learn from the pros. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of pros want to share how they became a success because what they do is important to them. And who better to learn from than someone who already figured it out? Ideally, learning from a pro is done in person, such as job shadowing or an apprenticeship, but that’s not always an option, which is okay. There are other ways to learn!

Learning isn’t just for students. Learning is not limited to the classroom. You don’t stop learning when you get a diploma and not having earned a diploma doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your dreams.

Lifelong learning is necessary for everyone with goals.

I believe in the value of higher education, but I recognize that going to college or starting a job training program isn’t the only way to learn. We must think outside the box for various avenues to learn, which is fun and easy to do in this technology-driven world. My favorite ways to learn are:

  • Visit a library. There are seriously SO many opportunities to learn within a library – and I don’t just mean the books. (Although you should try reading books, reading eBooks, and/or listening to Audiobooks, too.) Many libraries offer events and workshops, and they are usually free – no library card required.
  • Visit a local college or university. They often host well-informed speakers (pros, if you will) for lectures and present cultural events, and many of these are open to the public at little or no cost. Also, look into their non-credit offerings. You can’t earn a degree when you take them (non-credit = no credit earned toward a degree), but you can learn a lot of amazing things for a low cost. (My mom and I took a few cake decorating classes a few years ago. We spent less than $100 between the two of us and had a blast. I also learned that I won’t be starting a cake decorating business anytime soon.) Check a college’s website or call them up to see what they offer. They aren’t just there for their students. They are there for their community; they are there for you.
  • Attend workshops and training opportunities. Personally, I seek out opportunities through my employers and my local libraries, but a quick search on Eventbrite shows a variety of local options. You might have to pay for these if your employer is not.
  • Listen to podcasts. Podcasts opened up a whole new world for me! There are so many experts on various topics out there who answer questions and inform their audience on their specific area of expertise.

Here are few resources I have found inspirational and insightful.

Books: 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller; Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis; and Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose by Sadie Robertson.

Podcasts: The Ken Coleman Show, EntreLeadership, Christy Wright’s Business Boutique, and Life Money and Hope with Chris Brown. If you’re not listening to podcasts, you should be. There are so many out there! These are just a few I listen to for free on CastBox, which is a free app for Android and IOS.

You know what’s crazy?

Learning to fulfill your goals can also get your creativity flowing again when you’re tired.

Creativity is intertwined with the rest of your life, so keep on learning.

Challenge: Do one of the above bullet points this week and let me know how it goes in the comments.

In an effort to share my love for learning with the community, I created a library display that highlights all of the things you can learn from library books.
I focused on what you can learn from the adult non-fiction section, from budgeting to getting a job.

Life #goals

Last week I shared a post about why we want to quit and talked about how important it is to flip the question and instead think about why we are doing whatever it is we’re doing in the first place. I talked about goals a bit and I want to develop the idea that goals are important here.

If the word “goal” makes you think of “New Year’s Resolution” and you grimace, think “challenge” instead. Who doesn’t like a challenge?

Goals should be stepping stones to achieving your dreams.

What do you dream about doing someday? Now make that smaller. Cut it up into bite-sized pieces you can attack today, this month, this year. Those are your goals.

Personally, I live for goals. If I’m not in a fitness challenge, I tend to slack on my workouts. If I don’t have a goal date to have a project done, it just sits there. So I always have running goals, short-term and long-term.

If you don’t have a goal in mind, then where are you headed?

Goals focus me. I realized early on in my 20s that I’m absolutely aimless and stagnant without goals. If something comes up in my life that doesn’t serve my goals, then I’m more apt to turn it down with good reason. If an opportunity comes into my life that aligns with my goals, I will probably jump at it to get closer to achieving my goals. Otherwise I’m just a ping pong ball going back and forth to what everyone else wants.

But what if you don’t have set goals? Break out your thinking cap and let’s go for a ride.

Life goals

What do you want out of life? You might know this even if you haven’t ever pinned it down or written it in your journal. Do you want a big family? Do you want a successful career? Do you want to own your own business? Do you want to publish a book someday? Your life goals encompass all of your other goals.

Focus on what you want but consider your family, especially your spouse, with your goals. If you want to own a big farm in the middle of nowhere but your husband wants to be a lawyer in a big city, you need to have a conversation.

Career goals

Is your dream job something big like being a heart surgeon or pop star? Or do you have more modest goals like being a stay-at-home mom or helping the community through your desk job? Think about what you want to do. Not what your parents/spouse/friends/the world say/says. What do you want to do with your life? Then pursue it and (hopefully) get paid for it.

Family goals

Do you want to get married or be single? Do you want a ton of kids or are you happy with a couple dogs? Do you want to adopt or do you only want biological children? If you’re in a relationship, talk about these things with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/fiancée now.

Creative goals

Do you want to publish on a blog or publish in a brand-name magazine? Do you want your friends and family to read your stories, or do you want the world to read them? Will you be happy if you never get on the bestseller list? Is self-publishing a few books enough for you, or do you want an agent and a career?

Take a deep breath.

If you’re not 100% sure what your goals are in any of these areas, that’s okay. You don’t need to have all the answers now, but I hope you’ll start thinking about them today. And it’s okay if your goals change over time, because they probably will even if you don’t fulfill them. That’s how life is. We change, sometimes our dreams change, and so our goals change.

I’m not completely sure what my dream day job would be, but I’m reading books, listening to podcasts, and journaling about it to figure it out. Then, when I know what my career goal is, I’ll be able to pursue that goal in incremental steps. In the meantime, I’m going to learn everything I can about what I might want to do and how I can go about doing it. That way, when I do know, I’ll know which path to take.

Challenge: Think about your life goals. If you know what they are, take a big step to achieving them this week. If you’re not sure, take some time to think about what you would like to achieve, ask yourself why, and talk about it with friends or family members to receive solid feedback.

Extra credit: Turn superficial #goals into real-life, “I’m getting stuff done and pursuing my dreams” #goals. Or, like me, grab a cup of coffee to give yourself the jump start you need to pursue your goals. Share your #goals with me on Instagram @writersam77.

Note: If you’re not sure where to find information on how to achieve your goals, visit me next week.

Run with it – part 2

Last week, I talked about running with your circumstances to improve your life. This week, I want to dig a little deeper on this topic. You can read part 1 here.

Wallowing in rejection, failure, or betrayal makes you feel exhausted and zapped of all creative juices, but running gets those juices flowing. Running toward something and with something helps you adapt to changes, in life and in your body.

Adaptability is necessary in life.

I know this is a painful topic. I hate change, especially when it’s someone else making the call. But the more I learn about life, the more I realize that constant change is a good thing, even when it’s difficult.

I know not every change is good, but wallowing in the pain won’t turn a bad situation ripe again. It will only make you more sour.

According to, adaptability means “able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.” Merriam-Webster says adapt means “to make fit (as for a new use), often by modification.” On the flip side, to be stagnant, according to Merriam-Webster, means “not advancing or developing.” adds “inactive, sluggish, or dull.”

Do you want to be inactive, sluggish, and dull? Do you want to be lazy?

No! You want to pursue your dreams. You want to publish a book, run a race, or snag your dream job. Maybe you want to do all three of these things – I sure do. This means you need to grow, change, and adapt. This means you need to run with whatever life throws at you. It means you need to run toward your goals instead of away from your failure. Let me repeat that.

You need to run toward your goals instead of away from your failure.

That’s what the most successful people do. They don’t cower when faced with scary circumstances or give up the moment they’re rejected. No! They keep on running through this maze of life because they have dreams they want to turn into reality. They map out the directions to achieving their goals and take that route. If they hit a roadblock or are forced to make a detour, they recalculate, adapt, and keep on running.

So here’s my challenge for you this week, no matter where you are at in this journey we call life: Ask yourself the following questions and really think deeply about them. They can change the direction you’re running.

  • What are you running toward?
  • Do you need to stop running from something and change your direction to something?
  • What can you run with today to turn your dreams into reality?

Happy running!

Anti To-Do List

I’m a sucker for a good to-do list. The kind that has the most menial task on it so I can have the joy of checking it off later. Washed the dishes- check. Brushed my hair- check (come-on I can’t be the only one that struggles with that…). But what about all the things I […]

Goal Setting

We are slowly approaching the end of the year, it’s been a doozy. What will you be doing next year? I’m not necessarily talking about loosing that holiday weight, I mean for your life. How are you going to level up you? One way is to set a goal. We all have dreams. It’s time to make […]

NaNoWriMo: A Postscript (Or Reflections on a Month of Creative Abandon)

Guest Post by Andrew Newton, Find his blog at

This past November, I embarked for the fourth time on a literary adventure of grand proportions. National Novel Writing Month (aka. NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo) is an annual challenge for writers of all ages to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Each time I strap myself into the literary lunacy of NaNo I learn a few things about writing and time management that I promptly manage to forget until the next year. This time, however, I’m not going to forget, because I’m writing them down here for us all to enjoy. This post is for anyone who has ever said, “I’d love to write, but I just don’t have the time.” Or anyone who has ever said, “I love lists of things that people learned doing strange, slightly nerdy writing events!”

Lesson 1: Everyone has time to write, even you. 

So often, we look at our lives and say, “I’m so busy I never have time to write.” This would be problematic if it were true, but what we really mean is, “I have a lot of other things that I make a priority over writing.” The reality is we make time for the things that are truly a priority in our lives. Usually, this involves rearranging our list of priorities, or even removing things altogether.

For me, making time for writing during NaNo has required me to cut back or eliminate video games, movies/TV shows, recreational reading, and/or unnecessary internet use during the month. You have to decide what your priority is and allocate the time you need for that, even if it means taking time away from something else. (Spoiler alert: it always does.)

Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to write crap – you have to write crap before you can get to the good stuff.

The whole premise of NaNo is to start with a blank page and write a rough draft from start to finish. The key word here is rough. The end result will not be literary gold – that’s not the point. The point is to write something that you can work with, add to, edit, and polish into a masterpiece. Does that always happen? No. Sometimes crap is just crap and there’s nothing you can do about it. Does that mean it’s a complete loss and you’re a terrible writer? No! It means you got some valuable practice, and some new ideas that may blossom into something great later on. As long as you’re writing, that’s a good thing.

The only year I lost NaNo was the year I started, got to 1,000 words, and gave up. Don’t give up, the stuff you write may not be great, but it’s better than not writing at all.

You can fix something bad you’ve written, but you can’t fix something you never wrote.

Lesson 3: Set concrete goals.

50,000 words in 30 days is easier said than done. Writing every day that’s only 1,667 words per day, but I think the only year that I came close to writing every day was back in 2010 when I had no life whatsoever (this may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much). All other years, I have had to make up for some hefty deficits in order to finish on time.

I realize that NaNo level goals aren’t always realistic, what’s important is to have a goal and work towards it. Maybe your goal is to write every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Maybe your goal is to write 500 words a day. Whatever your goal is, do your best to stick to it, and before you know it, words and pages will be piling up, because consistency is the key to writing.

Lesson 4: Don’t be afraid to take breaks.

Sometimes you type something then immediately delete it, or you write something and cross it out, you just can’t get the words to come out right. Other times, you are simply exhausted and need to sleep for several decades. If you hit a wall, take a break. After an hour or so of writing I often need a break to let my creative batteries recharge. I make myself some tea, grab a snack, watch a couple YouTube videos or an episode of The Office, then get back to work.

That’s the important part, get back to work. The purpose of a break is to re-energize you to keep going. There is a difference between taking a break and binge-watching an entire season of Arrested Development for the third time (not that I’ve ever done that).

Breaks are good, because they let you keep going. If they don’t help you keep going, they aren’t real breaks.

So those are my observations after a crazy month of writing. I highly recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who wants to write. Whether you’re an old pro or a newbie, it will help you improve your writing skills and your time management, not to mention the sense of accomplishment. Even if you’re not interested in writing, most of the lessons I’ve learned from NaNo are perfectly applicable to other areas of interest. Just go back and replace “writing” with “underwater basket weaving” or “poodle wrangling” or anything else you want to do, but don’t think you have the time.