I have a love-hate relationship with goal-setting.

Goals are something that most authors struggle with, a necessary evil. I’ve noticed that whether it’s time spent in the chair, word count, or the amount of royalties earned within a certain time frame, there seems to be a need to measure one’s progress.

To some extent, goal-setting is impossible to ignore and is probably necessary to become a career author. But I found that goal-setting can be problematic in a few ways.

For example, let’s say that I decide that I want to write 2,000 words a day. If, at the end of the day, I’ve written 1,894 words, I might look at that as a failure. I came up short of the 2,000 words I had intended on writing day. But being 106 words short of my goal doesn’t mean that effort was a failure, although I can tend to perceive it that way because I didn’t hit my goal.

This is also true when you examine author earnings. It is very common in the business world to set earnings goals. So, if I decide I want to make $5,000 in royalties per month and I make $4,793 that month, I’ve come up short and did not reach my goal.

On the surface, these don’t seem to be failures. Someone from the outside looking at the numbers will realize that getting close to the goal is probably just as good as reaching it. And yet, internally, there’s something in us that feels as though we didn’t cross the finish line, that we didn’t achieve what we had set out to accomplish, which can be demotivating on many levels.

That is why I believe developing good habits and systems can be much more powerful than setting goals. If you do the same thing every day, at the same time, it’s almost impossible not to get results. Whether that is working on the craft, drafting, revisions, marketing, publishing, or advertising, consistent effort over time will almost always yield results, provided you’ve developed positive habits and learned core competencies.

But at some level, it helps to have an idea of where you want to be. I might have a vision of what my life will look like when I’m “successful.” I can see that future and what it will take to get there. On some level, I am recognizing the power of goals but not intentionally creating a plan to achieve them, and instead opting for a system that will automatically produce the results if I show up every day and do the work.

It is in this strange middle ground between goal-setting and systems where author mastermind groups can yield tremendous results. The very nature of showing up to a mastermind meeting regularly and being held accountable for the work or concepts that session will undoubtedly move you toward whatever goal you hope to achieve.

There have been many days, whether as a participant in a mastermind group, or leading it,  when I didn’t feel like being there in the few hours leading up to the meeting, I would begin to come up with excuses for why I couldn’t attend, letting myself off the hook for the responsibility. But like having a workout partner, it is much more difficult to shirk a responsibility when other people are counting on you.

So, I always show up, and I always feel better about it after the session is over. One of the main reasons is because every session reinforces the idea that the other people in the mastermind group are sharing the same goals and aspirations as I am. It doesn’t mean they are striving for the same word-count goal or the same amount of royalties per month, but it does mean that we are pointed in the same direction and supporting each other along the way.

It’s amazing how many times mastermind participants arrive feeling as though their situation is completely unique with an individualized set of goals, only to realize that most of the other people in the group share those same dreams. All of a sudden, the burden of the goals is not placed entirely on the individual, but rather, shared by the group.

A sense of locking arms and being in this together permeates the mastermind group, and participants will look for opportunities to reach down and pull each other up in times of struggle. I’ve been the one pulled back to my feet after being knocked down by failure, and I’ve also been the one reaching back to help someone else up. Being in a mastermind means being real, sharing your goals, sharing your successes and failures, and realizing that you can do so without judgment and with the support of people who care.

That is not to say that I set strict word-count goals that are the same goals as other people in the mastermind. In fact, a common activity that has grown out of the mastermind group is writing sprints, where people turn on their Webcams and show up to do work on the same day at the same time. For some authors, this is very motivating, knowing that someone else is doing the same type of work at the same time. Although this has not been a strategy I’ve found motivating, I’ve seen it work wonders for other people.

Whether it’s simply showing up regularly or participating in a synchronized work session, people in a mastermind share the same goals and aspirations, and there’s power in a group moving in a singular direction toward success and stretching their limits to help each other achieve it.

Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/join/