I hope you’re having a great New Year so far! Did you make any resolutions?

I used to make them every year. But, like most people, I made them unrealistic and immeasurable, and often tried to achieve too much, too fast. Then, a few months into the New Year, I’d realize I’d already missed at least one of my resolutions, and shortly thereafter, would simply forget the rest.

But, about twelve years ago, when I first started working with AWAI, I spent time studying how the most successful Barefoot Writers became so successful, and learned a lesson that changed everything.

Today, I’m no longer an “oh well, maybe next year” kind of gal. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions … I now set goals.

Rather than making empty general resolutions like I’m going to watch less TV, make more money, and exercise more; I’ve learned to dig deeper and develop goals and plans that are designed to ensure I succeed.

Now, when it comes to setting goals, most people use a two-step plan:

How to set goals that ensure successStep One: Set goals. 

Step Two: Create a plan for achieving them. 

But, there’s actually one more step that comes before these two steps. And, it’s actually a lot of fun … especially if your goal is to become a Barefoot Writer this year.

Step One Revised: Spend some time thinking about what your life will be like as a Barefoot Writer.

Because it’s one thing to set goals and make a plan …

But, it’s a far better thing to set goals that are in line with the life you actually want to live, and create a success plan that is on track to one day living that life.

Ready?

Grab a piece of paper and pen and go somewhere quiet … Now, picture yourself in three years. What does your life look like? 

I’m not talking about the basics here … I want you to dig deeper. Much, much deeper.

For starters, how many hours each week do you want to work?

Are you hoping to replace one 40-hour work week, with another 40-hour work week? Would you like to cut back to 20 hours … or even 10 hours a week? Or, are you a real workaholic with great ambition who would like nothing better than to spend 60 or even 80 hours a week focused on your work — as long as it’s work you love and find rewarding?

There are no wrong answers to any of these questions.

Their purpose is to give you some boundaries and guidelines when exploring your options.

For example, if you only want to work from 6 to 10 each morning, you won’t want to run a business that requires customer service unless you plan to outsource.

Have your answer? Then, write it down and move on …

What kind of money will you need/want to make?

It’s not enough to say you want to make a lot of money. Even saying you want to make enough money to cover your bills won’t do.

You first need to actually take a look at your monthly expenses, and see where you stand on a monthly basis. How much do you need to cover your monthly bills?

How much more money would you like to make over that amount?

How will you spend your money?

What expenses do you see in your future? New car, new house, new boat? Will you be starting a family? Paying college tuition? Saving for retirement?

Maybe all of the above!

I personally would like to buy a summer vacation home that my family can visit year after year.

What would you like?

What will you be doing?

Do you enjoy writing? Or, do you like the creative outlet graphic design or photography gives you?

Or, maybe you prefer the game of trying to climb the search-engine ranks by optimizing web pages.

Or, you have a hobby that you’d like to continue to learn more about.

Do you love dealing with clients and working with new people? Or, would you prefer to be on your own?

Where do you want to live?

Do you see yourself staying in your current home?

Or, maybe upgrading to something bigger?

Will you stay in your same location? Or, maybe move to a new city … state … or even country.

Remember, you really want to drill down here and be very specific about where you’d like to be in three years …

How will your lifestyle change?

Are you looking to enjoy life more and work less enough to scale back your lifestyle? Or, do you want to grow your lifestyle and start enjoying the finer things in life?

Again, there are no wrong answers here. Be honest with yourself so you can plan accordingly to reach those goals.

So, now tell me … where do you see yourself in three years?

Now that you know exactly where you want to be, you can look for writing opportunities that fit your preferred lifestyle. And, start acquiring the skills you need to learn to earn the amount of money you want.

Now, you can move on to the next two steps by setting some goals that will take you to your dream life, and successfully developing a plan for achieving those goals.