Resolutions, goal setting, planning. They’re all great, useful tools, but unless we follow through, unless we stick to our resolution, act on our goals, and truly do what we put in our planner or what we plan to do, they are pretty tools collecting dust in our tool-box.
And let’s face it, we tend to give up on our resolutions, reject our goals, and ignore our plans if not right away, then fairly soon after. Because they aren’t realistic, achievable, they are too much work, life gets in the way, and more.
We forget that we made those resolutions, goals and plans because they will get us something we want, they represent what we love.
They also challenge us.
And it is a lot easier to do what is, well, easy, rather than step out of our comfort zone and push ourselves and take action, so we fall back into our autopilot routines.
I don’t want that for us, not just in a new year, or after a birthday marker, but ever.
Today, tomorrow, years from now, I want us–you and me–to be actively going after what we want instead of living our lives on autopilot.
This is part 4 of a four-part series that will take us, one step at a time, out of autopilot, and ready to embrace the pursuit of goals and follow-through of plans. If you haven’t yet read it, you can find part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here. I highly recommend going through those steps before continuing on with part 4.
Part 4: When will it happen?
Have you heard about the marshmallow experiment? In case you haven’t, it goes essentially like this:
A bunch of kids are offered a marshmallow. If they can wait 15 minutes and not eat it, they will get a second one. The theory is that those who could wait the 15 minutes, who could delay gratification, were going to be more successful in life.
I don’t disagree with this idea. Especially as writers, it can be a long time before we see any real, public, results.
But I also think we need to be a little less okay with waiting. Get a little more hustle. Have a fire lit under us to get things done faster, so we can see those results sooner.
Take out the work you’ve done the last little bit. Your big dreams and goals, the reasons why you want them, and your action plan. Lay them out in front of you.
Close your eyes for a moment and put yourself at the end of it all. The day your big dream becomes a reality. Your book is published and in your hand. You are on the bestseller list. You can leave the day job behind to write full-time.
It is that day. Every reason you had for wanting your big dream has been justified, fulfilled. Your kids are proud. You’ve been accepted by the writing community, those jerks who said you couldn’t write have been proven wrong.
Your perseverance in the face of rejection and frustration and the haters, has paid off.
Now take a look back, at all you did to get to this place? What were those steps you took? What all had to happen to get here?
Can you see it? Can you envision your writing dreams, your writing goals, becoming reality?
When are your writing goals going to happen?
Readjust your writing action plan as you need.
Don’t set your action plan aside just yet. Next to each action step, set a date by when that’s going to happen.
I know, I know, not everything is within our control. But we can take action on the steps that we can control and plan for the rest.
Challenge yourself with these timelines. Light that fire. Don’t settle in to wait for that second marshmallow that may or may not come.
The longer you wait, the longer it isn’t going to happen.
Take those daily writing goals. When are they going to happen? In the morning or evening or during lunch? Weekends only? Mark them in your calendar, set a reminder, post it on your computer.
Set a date your book is going to get done. Plan to pitch it at an online pitch event or conference (when we get to go to those again). Give yourself a concrete deadline and mark it in your calendar.
That big dream of yours, put it on a vision board, somewhere you can look at it every day, as a reminder of what you want and how you’re going to make it happen.
A little extra ignition fuel
Making our writing goals a reality isn’t all about setting dates and deadlines. No matter how big our dreams, how strong our reasons and how ambitious yet achievable our plans are, they aren’t always enough.
The hardest part is getting started.
Starting the car takes the most fuel. To get any object in motion takes the biggest push of energy.
Once things are in motion, though, we don’t need as much energy. We get into a flow, and the process gets easier and picks of momentum of its own.
So here’s my challenge to you. Out of all of this.
One word, one sentence, one paragraph. That’s all you need to do today. Tomorrow it will be easier.
One word, one sentence, one paragraph will soon become two, then three, then ten.
And your writing goals will be achieved.