Writing Goals, Detours, and Opportunity Cost

It’s just about the end of January; the year is under way. Hopefully, most of you have taken the time to think about and actually write out your writing goals.

This is actually a key element to seeing your goals recognized – you must write them down and keep them where you can see them everyday. Certainly, you’ve heard this strategy before. It’s simply not enough to think of your goals, you need to see them written and even visualize them.

Jack Canfield and his co-author Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for the Soul ( wrote their goals out and pasted them everywhere possible, even in the bathroom. No matter where they were, they saw their objective and after 144 rejections, Chicken Soup for the Soul was finally accepted for publication.

Mark Thompson says, “Two of the vital ingredients for success online or in the "real world" is converting your Dreams to Goals and surrounding yourself with people with similar goals and ideals.”

Again, this is achieved by making your writing goals visible, writing them down, and by projecting them. But, you also need to make your goals attainable and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals.

According to writing coach Suzanne Lieurance, you should limit your primary goals to three, and under each goal list the strategies you’ll take to achieve each one.

As an example, suppose you want to freelance for magazines. This is your number one goal and actions you might take to help you achieve that goal are:

1. Research three magazines you’d like to write for.
2. Decide on a topic that would be appropriate for each magazine.
3. Write an outline for the article.
4. Write a query letter for each magazine.
5. Submit to each magazine.

Then, you would simply follow your own goal reaching instructions to obtain your objective/s.

One big pitfall or roadblock to achieving your writing goals though, aside from not writing them out and reviewing them everyday, is a lack of focus and allowing yourself to get sidetracked by taking detours.

If you’re like me you start the year with your goals front and center. Then you seem to get sidetracked doing ‘this and that.’

You might decide it’s a great idea to prepare and present workshops or webinars to build your mailing list or sell products.

Or, you attended a number of webinars that told you how easy it is to make money creating your own information products. So, off you go, doing ‘this and that.’

Unfortunately, unless that ‘this and that’ is earning you money, the detour is pointless. It’s not only pointless, it creates an opportunity cost.

What do I mean by ‘opportunity cost?’

If you spend your time and energy on projects that aren’t in line with your end objectives (your writing goals), and those detour projects aren’t earning you money, you’ve lost time and energy, and you’ve lost the money you might have made if you stuck to your original objectives. defines ‘opportunity cost’ as “a benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else.”

That lost time, energy, and money you lost on your detours is the ‘opportunity cost.’

If you do decide to make a detour, be sure the benefits (money, networking, learning, etc) are worth it.

Achieving your goals takes discipline, drive, and perseverance. Don’t let unfruitful detours derail yours.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

If you need help with your author platform, check out Karen's e-classes through WOW:

Related Writing Articles:

Keep Your Writing Goals Front and Center
Writers and Authors: The Ongoing Process of Evolving


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. Lots of good points.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Susanne, I'm glad you found it helpful. That's one good thing about making mistakes or taking detours, you can hopefully enlighten others. :) The cup is always half full. Life is an ongoing learning experience.

Karen Cioffi said...
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