[free printable!] SMART Goals & Don’t Break the Chain

UPDATE: Links have been updated with a full 2015 calendar!

I don’t really do New Years resolutions in January. Sometimes I set goals for myself, but April is generally my goal-setting month because it’s the month in which I was born. Doesn’t hurt that it starts with April Fool’s Day, so if I make a completely unreasonable goal, I suppose I could change my mind on April 2nd.

Back in January I decided 2014 was THE year for me to once and for all finish the manuscript I’ve been working on. The past few months I’ve been reading up on productivity, attending time-management and goal-setting workshops for artists, and setting short term and long term goals.

There’s a difference between a goal, though, and a SMART goal.

Making SMART Goals


Your goal needs to be specific. “Be a better person” is a good ideal, but not a good goal. “Be a better writer” is more specific, and you can work with it, but let’s try a little harder. How about “Write a novel”? Sure. Let’s take that one.


“Write a novel”–is that a measurable goal? Why yes it is! Because novels have a beginning, middle, and an end. Let’s choose a measurement so we can make the goal even more specific. “Write a 50,000-word novel.”


“Be a better person” isn’t a good goal because how will you know when you’ve achieved betterment? You need a goal with an obvious finish line. Something you can cross off a list. Having a goal of writing a 50,000 novel gives you a point to work towards. In this case, the finish line is typing the 50,000th word.

For something to be achievable, it also needs to be realistic. For me, a full-time mother of two young children (who also freelances), writing a 50,000-word novel in the month of November is NOT a realistic goal. (Sorry NaNoWriMo.) But writing 50,000 words over the next few months is realistic. Especially since most of my research is done.

Helpful tip: Don’t attempt an historical novel during NaNoWriMo.


A SMART goal is relevant. It is important. It is worthwhile. It is meaningful. Are you the right person for the job? Is it a good time in your life to set this goal? Do you have the support necessary to achieve the goal? For me, that means hiring a part-time nanny so that I have a couple of hours every day to devote to writing.


Making a time-bound goal means actually writing it down on your calendar and making time for it. It’s setting a deadline. And this is the kicker—it’s choosing to not procrastinate.

I never have a problem coming up with ideas or goals. I have a problem keeping with them. Which is why I’m really excited about “Don’t Break the Chain” motivation.

[free printable!] SMART Goals & Don't Break the Chain | write lara write #productivity #goals #motivation

Don’t Break the Chain

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “Don’t Break the Chain,” you can read about its background here. It’s easier to turn something into a routine and keep doing it every day than quitting and trying to start back up again. “Don’t Break the Chain” is all about keeping up the momentum.

First, you pick something you can do every single day. Writing. Exercising. Doing the dishes. Choose something relevant. You’ll be bound by time because you have a deadline every 24 hours.

Make it measurable (Ask yourself “How much?” or “For how long?”). Make sure it’s achievable. Be specific.

Say you want to write every day. Will you write for a certain amount of time or will you have a minimum word count? Start small and manageable. It’s better to underestimate yourself than overestimate yourself. One is motivating, the other is debilitating.

If you’re writing just to journal, 300 words each day is a good minimum challenge. Or 15 or 30 minutes.

If you’re trying to put the “progress” into a “work in progress,” then shoot for five hundred, 750, or a thousand words. Or 30 minutes to 2 hours.

If you’re attempting to write a novel in 30 days, your goal will be 1,667 words each day.

Then each day you do that thing, you cross off the day on your calendar. Soon you’ll have a row of X’s. If you skip a day, you break the chain. Don’t break the chain.

Try this for a month, a season, or a year. The longer you go before breaking the chain, the easier it will be to pick up where you left off.

Free Printable Calendar

You can search for other “Don’t Break the Chain” calendars online (Here’s one). For my own, I wanted to combine the chain idea with SMART goals. I’ve got two versions for 2014. The first is an April-December one, shown in the featured photo at the top of the page. The second is a complete 2014 2015 year. That one has the conditions for a SMART goal in small print at the bottom.

Click on the thumbnails to download either one! These are for personal or classroom use only. Not for profit use. Enjoy!


April-Dec 2014

I’ve updated the SMART goals and Don’t Break the Chain calendar with a printable calendar for 2015


**The image is from 2014, but the link is to the 2015 calendar.**

PRIORITIES: Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix

So I’ve been reading The Art of Manliness a lot lately.

And by “a lot lately,” I mean I’ve been following The Art of Manliness on Pinterest and repinning some of their pins and actually reading some of those.

But the ones I’ve read are really, really good. For men and for women. And that’s what brings us here today. It also might serve as an explanation of where I’ve been the past 3 months, in case you were dying to know. (In which case, you’ve come to the right place, because not only will I give you the answer, I will hopefully give you some tips on getting your priorities in line).

It actually started with a post on the Emma Approved blog: “Ask Knightley: Workplace Productivity.”

Here was the question:

“I’d like to up my productivity in the workplace. Tackle the important things instead of just the urgent. How can I do that?”

And “Knightley” answered, linking to this image from The Art of Manliness:

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Click to Pin

As a designer, I was really tempted to redesign this decision matrix for you with writerly things, but since The Art of Manliness already made an image, and since their post on the subject is already really well written and thorough, I’m going to direct you there. BUT WAIT. Don’t leave yet. Okay, go ahead and go to The Art of Manliness. But then come back here. Because I’ve got some more goodies for you.

Did you read it?

Seriously, though, did you? Because I’m not going to restate the significance and mind-blowingness that is in that post. You have to read it.

Thanks. Now here’s some alliteration, a.k.a.

a mnemonic device

to help you remember what you just read:

Q1: That’s business.

Down below that is Q3: That’s busyness.

Q2 is beingAs in…being a better human being in general, or being a better writer specifically.

And Q4 is beguilement, which is a fancier, politer way of saying… it’s BS.

And now for:

some visuals

to drive the message home and hopefully inspire you.

Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Sources: Today’s WorkProgress Not Perfection

Quadrant 2: Important, not Urgent

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara WriteImportant vs Urgent | Write Lara Write Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Sources: Who You WereSurround YourselfReading FictionWriter’s Block

Quadrant 3: Not Important, but Urgent

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Sources: First StepInspire or Drain

Figure out what you can cut from the “busyness” of your life so you can spend more time being a writer. And by being a writer, I mean WRITING.

Quadrant 4: Not Important, Not Urgent

Try to avoid this:

Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

And instead do this:Important vs Urgent | Write Lara Write

Sources: Tumblr DistractionQuit Slackin

for writers

Decide what, for you, is business, being, busyness, and beguilement.

For me, and probably for you, business is my full-time job. I’m not a full-time writer, I’m a full-time mom. Sometimes dishes will have to take priority over writing. Le sigh.

Being is writing and reading and doing and living. Writing makes you a writer. Reading like a writer makes you a better writer, so long as you keep writing. Doing and living give you material for writing. Blocked? Read my post on Writer’s Block.

Busyness consists of everything I have to do for other people. As an at-home mom, I’m constantly on demand. Blogging falls into this category of Not Important (at least when it comes to getting my novel finished) but Urgent (because I do want to keep updating this blog regularly). What does that mean for the future of this blog? Same as it always has—I do so when I get a chance or when I have a topic I feel strongly enough to spend the time blogging about. I’m all about quality over quantity, which means that I don’t post frequently. Maybe I would if this blog were my job (Q1), but it isn’t.

Remember you can always ask me a writing / editing / grammar question on Twitter or in a comment here on the blog.

I’m on Facebook too, but not as often as Twitter. If you want to lark about during your Q4 time, I’d love to be of assistance. (Sometimes we live tweet movies!)

But then, you know, we should really get back to writing and such.