The Year of No Excuses

The Write Mind: Sustaining a Creative Life

by Dr. Diane Rogers

You promise yourself 2018 is going to be different, but chances are, you’ve set goals in the past.

In my experience, goal setting isn’t the problem. I could gag on the abundance of cliché kickstarter-success techniques. And don’t get me started on SMART goals (specific, measureable achievable realistic, time-bounded). So last century, people.

Okay, SMART goals aren’t bad. They’re just limited. They represent process-oriented tasks—tactical, not strategic. By all means, develop SMART goals, but only after you’ve crystalized your strategy. After you’ve formed an overarching picture of your desired future, clarified your motivation, and determined your end game. After understanding your aims and what stands in your way.

If you’ve decided to lift your literary game and make 2018 the year of no excuses, you may benefit from the performance model below. These four structured questions have been used for decades by psychologists and coaches to improve corporate productivity. They are designed to help individuals develop a personal strategy for overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. The model is as relevant for writers as it is executives.

What Do You Want?

Most of us have ideas about what we want and a rough idea of how to get there. But it’s not our aspirations that fail us, it’s our actions (or lack thereof). We lose focus, give into fear, make excuses, change direction. Often, we attend to everything else except what will forward our achievements. Like when you call a friend instead of putting words on a page.

Now, ask yourself, what do you really want? What does finishing your book give you that you don’t have now? Personal satisfaction? Fame? If, 12 months from now, all obstacles are removed and you realize your goal, what will be different? Will you have more respect, self-worth, confidence, connection, money, love? Now, ask again. Keep asking until you understand the why behind your aspirations. The honest why represents your emotional stakes. Knowing your literary why helps align you to your personal truth and reduces self-sabotage.

Where Are You Now?

This question assesses the overall importance of your goal in the context of your life as it is today. Say, for example, 2018 is your year to finally finish that book. Nice aim, but if the concrete manifestation of the dream means quitting your day job and holing yourself up in a log cabin, chances are, you can kiss that goal bye-bye.

Achievements have to fit within our current reality. Yes, you want your literary objectives to inspire and challenge you, but your daily activities impact others. If you’re going to get anything done, it has to work within the terms of your everyday relationships and obligations.

Consider what’s going on in your life right now. Relative to everything else, how important is what you’re working on? On a scale of one to 10, where do your literary goals sit on your list of priorities? Even if you said it rates a one, what steps are you taking to complete it? What would life look like if you moved it up or down the priority list? Answering these questions honestly can make a significant difference in how you approach your work. If your goal doesn’t fit into your lifestyle right now, do you have another, more achievable desire? Can you keep the goal and adjust the timeframe?

What Can You Do?

When you have solidified your goal and are clear about where it fits in the scheme of your life, it’s time to understand your current options and build a strategy. What proactive actions can you take to meet your objective? List things that have worked in the past; i.e., Write two hours every morning. Now, make a note of all the inner and outer obstacles in your path—the myriad things preventing you from achieving your dream. You’ll soon discover how many of these are excuses. This is also a good opportunity identify your resources—who and what is available to help you get started. Next, you’ll need to formulate an idea of what you’re delivering and the milestones involved in the project.

What Will You Do?

This is where the rubber hits the road. How badly do you want it and what will you do to get it? Regardless of intentions, the barometer of success relates to volition. There is a direct correlation between level of commitment and goal attainment. Start by listing all the practical activities you can take by day/week/month. Next, ask yourself (honestly) how committed you are to each. If your answer isn’t 10 out of 10, ask yourself what it will take for you to commit to each. What resources do you need to get the job done? Keep asking and re-assessing.

Remember, action and follow through are the cornerstones of achievement.

For more information about strategies for success and Sir John Whitmore’s GROW Model, read Coaching for Performance.

What excuses used to hold you back from achieving your literary goals?



Dr. Diane Rogers, Author

Dr. Diane Rogers, Author

After retiring from a corporate career in business transformation and change management, Dr. Diane Rogers brings her expertise in social psychology to classrooms and families.

Her first picture book, Stand Tall, made its debut at the 2008 Seeds of Compassion Conference in Seattle, Washington featuring His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. A week after the book’s release, the State of Washington selected Stand Tall as an official teaching resource for compassionate education. Diane’s other published works include Emerge, A Story of Confidence, and When We All Stand Tall. To find out more, visit

A self-professed global nomad, when they aren’t traveling on or jumping out of planes, Diane and her husband Kevin triangulate between Sydney, Australia, Newport Beach, and their sailboat in the Mediterranean.

*O.C. Writers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. By clicking on the book links anywhere on this site, we earn a small commission from your purchase.

2 thoughts on “The Year of No Excuses

  1. What’s good for our characters is good for us. Not more than 5 minutes ago, I read the following lines about creating characters in fiction: “What does she want in this scene…One should ask what she wants from her life – has she achieved it? If not, why not?” (David Corbett, The Art of Character). It made me smile to read your article immediately afterward expressing the same sentiment about us as authors!
    Of all the great ideas in this very helpful article, the one I love the most is, “List things that have worked in the past”. It’s a practice I think we often overlook, perhaps even in other aspects of our lives.

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