STAMP your targets

Date StamperSetting targets is important in most walks of life and writing is no exception.

There is no point setting targets that don’t support you in what you do so I thought I would share an acronym STAMP that helps when defining targets that can make a difference!

I will use this system when I set some targets for 2013.

What is STAMP?

STAMP is a simple to remember way of making sure you set clear targets you can monitor progress towards. It stands for Specific Time-boxed Achievable Measurable and Positive. I explain each in turn:

Specific: a target such as write more stuff is too lose to be useful. You need to specify what it is that you want to write more of. Is it letters, articles, reviews, scripts? It can be a list but it must be a specific list. I will do this when I set my targets for 2013

Time-boxed: a target must have a due date else how do you know if you have achieved it? You must know when the target is set for. In terms of my targets for next year they are all by the end of 2013 so that is simple

Achievable: a target of ‘win the Pulitzer Prize in 2013’ may fit the fist two categorise but is it really achievable? This is an aspiration not a (in most cases) target that one can guarantee to achieve. As you will see my targets for 2013 are a stretch on what I have achieved in 2012 and are (I believe) all achievable

Measurable: you need to quantify, say how many. Writing more stories is not the same as writing four short stories and entering them for competitions. Again my 2013 list will contain measures by which I will judge success in December 2013

Positive: it may be obvious but set targets that motivate. Also avoid the ‘write 1,000 words five days a week or 250,000 words next year’ kind of targets. These look like mountains to climb and may not motivate you on a daily basis. The ‘1,000 words a day’ targets are OK in short bursts but I would avoid them as a yearly metric.

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