The Power of Achievable Goals
Hello, dear friends! I've been thinking a lot about goals lately. I recently read "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg and have been pondering how to make writing more of a habit in my life. It's something I want to dedicate time to, but it's hard to do creative things when "life" things come up so often. I need to get back to setting small, achievable goals for myself, as I've had great success with that in the past.
I wrote the first book in the Sanctuary Trilogy, "Escaping Safety," in 2013 for NaNoWriMo. I self-published it in early 2014. I was so excited about having my first book out and that momentum carried me to publish the second book, "Surviving Darkness," in 2015. Then, life happened. I decided to get serious about school. I worked several different jobs. I fell in love and married my sweet hubby. By the time we decided to start a family, it had been five years since I'd released that second book.
Every year, finishing Sanctuary 3 was at the top of my New Year's resolutions, always looming as the project that would never end. I'd written a few chapters and left them sitting with no end in sight. It was a tragedy to me that I hadn't finished the book and that I now felt so out of touch with my characters. Thankfully, as 2020 began, two great things happened:
A friend I met through LTUE organized a writing group near me and I excitedly began attending. That group gave me the support, encouragement, and accountability I needed to make writing part of my life again.
I set a small, achievable goal to write 100 words a day.
100 words doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but it can bring big results. Most of the time, when I wrote my 100 words for the day, I kept going. Those 100 words were all it took to get me over the hump of procrastination and put on my writing hat. I wrote the 40,000 words it took to finish the book in just a few months (19,000 of which I wrote over a period of three days because it was the end and I was so thrilled to finally be accomplishing my goal). 100 words a day did that. A small, achievable goal that sounds downright silly to most people.
There is something magical about achieving a small goal. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. For me, it's so much better to have a goal of 100 words a day and to achieve it than to have a goal of 1,000 words a day and feel guilty for not making it there. I guess the concept of under-promising and over-delivering can apply to ourselves as well as other people. It's encouraging and motivating to meet goals. I would feel so good about myself for hitting those 100 words that I would keep going because it brought me joy, instead of feeling dread or anxiety over the project.
I didn't finish that book when my goal was 40,000 words, as it had been for years. That was too much for me to dedicate myself to and always felt too hard to accomplish with everything else going on. But 100 words? I could think about that. Even though I was pregnant, finishing my degree, buying a house, and everything else that happened in 2020. I could think about 100 words every day and now I have the 40,000 new words I dreamed about for so long.
That's what a small goal did for me, and I'm sharing this because I hope small goals can do the same thing for you. Your goal doesn't have to be about writing. It can be anything you want to achieve. The point is to take one overwhelming task and break it up into small, achievable tasks that you can do every day. You can do that with cleaning your house, exercising, learning a new skill ... the potential of achievable goals is really limitless. Consider taking the time today to turn something that's overwhelming you into bite-size pieces. You'll be amazed at the power of the process.