How do we achieve our goals?
One of the questions I’ve been asked several times over the last few months is how do we go about achieving our writing goals. How do we actually get those words on paper?
It’s something I’ve been struggling with recently, perhaps because I have a huge list of things I want to achieve and I want to achieve them all now. Or yesterday.
I know that’s not reasonable. But if I look at my goals for the year, they are all achievable. Not all achievable in January, sure. Or even February. But they’re annual goals, and I have to remind myself I have a whole year to achieve them (well, nine months now).
Have a Plan
One of my 2016 goals is to complete a Read-The-Bible-In-A-Year challenge. I’ve done this for the last two years, and have found the easiest way is to pick a plan that has seven readings for each week, then (wait for it!) read one each day. Not an original concept, sure, but one that works.
Other goals include declutter the house (I’ve taken about five carloads of stuff to the dump, the recycle centre, and the Salvation Army), deep-clean the house (easier after it’s been decluttered) and lose weight (moving right along . . .).
Step by Step
I’ve taken the Bible-in-a-Year approach and set up a plan. Each Saturday, I plan to declutter a drawer or a shelf. Not too much. Baby steps. But it’s only April, and I’m more than halfway through the house.
What else do I want to achieve this year? Read some books, of course. Including a whole bunch of novels off my to-read pile. (One year I also pledged not to buy new books until I’d got to the bottom of the to-read pile, but that was a recipe for failure.)
I’m sure you all know this already, but step by step holds true for all goals. It’s like how to eat the elephant: one bite at a time (although why would anyone want to eat an elephant?).
I like lists, so I find it helpful to have my household tasks, work tasks, and daily writing goal each set as recurring Tasks in my Outlook To-Do list. It gives me immense pleasure to check each task off, as each task represents a step towards my longer-term goals (as an added bonus, this post is 2,000 words, so I can tick my 1,000 word daily target off twice, and give myself a day off sometime.).
Ticking a list might not be your idea of a reward, but it works for me (I’d prefer to give myself chocolate, but that would be inconsistent with that “lose weight” goal). If ticking a list works for you, great. Do it. If it doesn’t, find something that does. Perhaps reward yourself with a new Christian novel from my list of recommendations?
What rewards motivate you?
It’s generally agreed that it’s a good idea to give yourself something for completing tasks or achieving a goal, because that will incentivise and motivate you to keep going. And when you achieve a bigger goal (e.g. cleaning the house, getting to your target weight, or finishing the book), you can have a bigger reward.
I also have to allow myself to forgive failure and move on. Unexpected things come up, and if there’s a family member in hospital, a friend in need, or a funeral to attend, do that and don’t feel guilty about getting behind on your tasks for a day, a week, a month.