Goal Setting For the Time-Starved Writer

Early on in my marriage, my wife would laugh at me when I listed my goals for the evening.

Read 40 pages of a book, watch a movie, go for a run, do all of our laundry, wash the dishes, and maybe rearrange a bedroom or two. Then have some friends over for dinner once we are done.

Seriously. I could get a out of hand.

Courtesy Unsplash

 

Nearly eleven years later I am better at adjusting my expectations, but still have difficulty setting daily goals. I now have four kids and an ever-growing mound of responsibilities.

What I struggled with, and what I am guess you do from time to time, is wanting immediate results. And when they don’t happen on my schedule, having a good attitude and trying again tomorrow.

If you are a writer, or a creative of any sort, this desire for immediate results can mean frustration and angst and a mercurial mood that can ruin or severly strain your relationships.

I’ve found one of the best ways to avoid feeling like a failure and actually accomplishing my daily goals is to make them realistic and remind myself that I am working for the long haul, neither of which is easy.

So my encouragement to you is to do what you can today. Don’t worry if you cannot finish all of your goals. Stay in the game, even if the movement is subtle.

Above all remember you are writing not for today, but for a year from now, when you will finish your book.

 

This Is The Year To Go On The Offensive

Do you make statements like – Someday I’ll pay off my house? Or, I’ll get to that book tomorrow, or let’s attack that unorganized closet during the spring.

Me too.

Lately, I discovered there’s a huge difference between saying you want to do X, Y, or Z and putting a date on the calendar when you’re actually going to accomplish it.

As in, I want to pay off my house in ten years. I want to write that book in the next one hundred and sixty days. I’ll say sayonara to that disorganized closet next Saturday at 10 AM.

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When a brand-new year rolls around I like to make plans. I have goals this year. My main focus is to change my goal setting routine.

I used to think I make excuses. But now I realize I’m just lazy with some of my internal promises. I leave them unbound to a certain time thinking I’ll accomplish these tasks in the nebulous future.

Though I have excuses aplenty, I want 2016 to be a huge success. So I’ve written goals down with a specific date they are going to be completed by.

I’ve left dreams on the shelf in years past. This year, I’m going on the offensive, chasing after the things I’ve always wanted to accomplish.

So look out e-books.

Look out website.

Look out debt and disorganized junk drawer.

I’m coming for you.

As the new year comes and the old one passes, don’t just ask yourself what your are going accomplish this New Year. Set a date. Then go get it.

How To Make Lifestyle Changes That Last

A few years ago I wanted to start running. My company paid for the entry fee for a local run. I was playing hockey and was otherwise active and thought it’d be fun experience. I also thought it would be incredibly easy.

I started out running two miles at a time a few weeks before the race. Then two weeks before the race I developed a pain in my knee. No big deal. I kept going. Then shin splints set in and I needed to stop. I’d overdone it and missed the race. I am still not running regularly.

We all have grand plans for our lives. But once we start to change anything it can be nearly impossible to make it stick. Every try to write every day, diet, or exercise? But why is change so hard?

Photo Credit: rosswebsdale via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: rosswebsdale via Compfight cc

One reason, according to the American Psychological Society, is that we start too big. We want to run two miles a day, like I did. Or we want to be a published author, tomorrow.

But, the path to sustainable change starts small.

We should strive to write 100 words a day not 2000. Run a half a mile first, then a mile. We all want change to happen immediately and permanently and we get discouraged and stop trying altogether when we fail.

If you want to change anything start with a small goal and then take it up a notch from there.

I need to start exercising regularly. What do you need to change?

My Favorite Writing Tool

I am the king of Post-it notes. They are on my wallet, my cell phone, and there is one on my computer now. Somehow, I always find myself with a billion ideas and no way to collect them all.

Sure, I could put them in a note book and squint at them later or store them in a word file or Google document that I’ll never open, but I wanted to SEE them. I wanted to be able to lay them down side by side and also track my writing progress.

Thus enter my favorite writing tool – my white board.white-board-1206708-m

My wife was at the office supply store and discovered they were wicked cheap and on sale. I’d love a nice frosted glass, trendy one, but I’d also like to not change my one year olds’ diapers. I have to understand what is necessary and what is me just wanting a cool new toy.

The reality is that having that writing software/tool is not going to make me better. Working hard consistently is. And now I have a place to keep track of my progress and flesh out ideas thanks to my wonderful bride.

I’ve hung the white board next to my bed so I can review tasks every day before I go to sleep and remind myself of upcoming goals and deadlines. I can also gaze at it as I doze off and make a mental note to get up early and get to work.

What is your favorite writing tool? How do you stay organized and on top of your tasks?

Cheers,

Bob