Welcome to my 4-part blog series on Marching toward Goal Achievement.
This is a reblog from last year. March-ing toward Goal Achievement is not just a play on words–this time of year truly does kick my butt. I suffer low energy levels and my productivity output decreases.
The strategies I outline through the next four posts have truly helped get me back on track–not just with productivity but creativity also. Maybe you’ll find some helpful gems in this series!
My Goal Story
I’m a typical hibernator during this time of year. I love hunkering down with my writing, and I know I produce twice as much in the winter than at any other time of year. But inevitably I get hit with the winter blues, when all manner of writing comes to a screeching halt, followed by a mournful query, “Why the hell am I writer?”
A number of years ago, March had really done me in. I probably stared at the same page of my manuscript for days on end, seeing nothing but blurry lines. I finally snapped out of it through two methods:
Setting Strategic Goals
The journaling helped me vent, getting out all the winter blues garbage and putting it somewhere safe and healthy. While this meant my fiction had to be put on hold, I found that the break encouraged my muse to play.
Goal setting for my writing was harder for me to manage. I’ve always been a planner and organized in life. Not so with writing, for some reason. Being in control of my writing is like trying to corral butterflies. I am all over the place with it.
I recognized that my lack of control with my writing life created major chaos for me in other parts of my life. And even though I (thought I) set goals, I was still floundering.
When I studied my goals to see why they were failing me, I noticed a few weird things:
- They weren’t clear
- They sounded boring
- There was no variety
No wonder they weren’t working. They weren’t really goals, not by goal standards. They were more like fanciful ideas, things that would be “kind of cool if I could do them.” There was no oomph to them, no trigger to launch me on killer-goal course.
Enter Goal Tiers
I visualized goals ranging in size, time to achieve, and impact. Small, easy ones on the bottom. Lofty, exciting ones at the top. Logic dictated that I set easy goals so I could actually get back to work, but deep down I knew I needed more robust goals if I wanted to actually care about them at all.
This understanding was a direct result of knowing my natural writing forces. I am competitive with myself. I love setting challenges. If I win the challenge, I’m satisfied. But if I go above and beyond the expectations of the challenge, whether it is two extra push-ups, an extra glass of water, 500 extra words in my novel—then I’m victorious.
How to Construct a Goal Tier
Decide on a valley goal that would make you feel satisfied when you accomplish it. This kind of goal should be doable according to the normal standards of your average day. But it also has to be a goal that needs to be accomplished.
Next, figure out a summit goal that is associated to your valley goal that would truly push you beyond your satisfaction. They need to be connected for this to make sense.
For example, say your valley goal (satisfaction) is to write a 1,000-word blog post once a week. Your summit goal (victory) could possibly be to write two blog posts once a week with the ultimate objective of building a bank of posts for June-August so you don’t have to spend your summertime writing blog posts.
Anything you accomplish between your valley and summit goals (maybe, one week, you couldn’t quite complete the extra blog post, but you drafted it) is a step beyond your valley goal and a step toward your summit goal. Now you’re in the range of productivity. This is where you actually want to be the majority of the time.
Two things happen when you shoot for the summit goal: You hit your valley goal on the way (boom!) and crossover into the range of productivity. You are getting things done.
If you only keep your sights on your valley goal, you rarely progress beyond that, if ever. Nothing against valley goals—because there are days when that is all you can manage. Valley goals are where you kick off from, a solid starting point. You don’t want to discount their importance.
But you don’t want to get too comfortable either. Life begins to grow a bit stale and dull. You start to lose your sense of vitality and your vision narrows and dims. If valley goals are all you ever shoot for, they will lose any kind of distinction and do you absolutely no good. As though you’ve gone to a cocktail party to network but forgot your business card.
Constructing a Goal Tier is based on a strategy that you devise yourself based on your natural writing forces. You don’t want to pick a bunch of goals like apples off a tree without inspecting them carefully for worms and rot.
You’ll need to consider a whole bunch of factors to ensure you’re constructing a tier of strategic goals that will make you productive. And that’s what we’ll talk about next week:
Why Some Goals Fail
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about how you go about setting goals. What problems with goal-setting do you need help with? Do you have a surefire process or is it more hit-and-miss? Do you feel like you’re moving forward with each goal achievement, or are you still spinning your wheels?