The first week of January saw a flurry of blog posts all across the Internet on the same topic: New Year’s Resolutions. Lots of people are thinking about what they want out of the year to come. For us authors, we’re thinking about how many books we want to finish – and how many we want to sell. Maybe some of us have even turned out an official Production Schedule to keep on track.
Me? I have many personal and business-related bad habits I want – NEED – to kick. Those of you following the blog know I suck at time management! I fail at this over and over again, too.
When we miss our goals, it’s easy to get discouraged and conclude that we don’t have it in us after all to do the things we want to do. But is that true?
New Day’s Resolutions
That’s why I believe in New Day’s Resolutions. Same thing exactly – but on a daily schedule.
I recently watched a documentary about a group of adventurers skiing to the North Pole. (Apparently, casually skiing to the top of the world is kind of a thing – The Last Degree Challenge. Must try it!) A member of their team had done it many times before. On his first expedition, he and his companions self-evaluated every 12 hours, asking themselves how they could better optimize their efforts. During one of these evaluations, they decided to reduce the last bit of excess weight they carried by taking the plastic sleeves off the ends of their shoe laces.
I was humored because I do the exact same thing – only without the sub-zero temperatures. At least once every 24 hours (often before bed), I reflect on the previous day and ask myself two questions:
- What did I do well?
- What did I do badly?
All I have to do then is adjust my course the next day.
Avoiding the Guilt Trap
Evaluating myself every day could get really depressing – because if there’s one thing I do faithfully, it’s miss goals. I could wind up constantly beating myself over the head because of stuff I didn’t get done and stuff I did wrong.
That’s why I’ve learned the fine art of goal forgiveness. When I miss a goal, I simply don’t dwell on it. I re-shuffle my schedule and try again, as if nothing happened. After all, beating yourself up over failure is a pure waste of time. Nothing is gained until you do something about it.
Write a month’s worth of blog posts in one week? Yep. Didn’t happen. I reshuffle and try again.
Contact five bloggers every day about reviewing my book? Also didn’t happen. I reshuffle and try again.
Spend half my day every day adding words to my WIP? … Actually, I’ve been getting pretty good at that goal! You’ll never guess. I reshuffled my schedule and tried again. Success!
The All Important “Why?”
By asking yourself, “Why?”
Why didn’t I work on my WIP today?
In my case, one major reason why I was failing at this over and over was because I was putting other tasks on the roster first – ahead of writing. Social media, email, blogging, and admin were all scheduled to happen before writing. And guess what? Work has a way of generating more work.
“Oh, I can fix that bug in five minutes.”
Yeah. Two hours later …
As soon as I put writing first, I was finally able to hit that goal of writing every day. All because I’d stopped and asked myself why my goal wasn’t happening.
Keeping Your Chin Up
- I focus on my successes instead of my failures. So I didn’t prep fifteen blog posts and two newsletters in a week? Hey, but I did ten!
- I leverage my failures. By asking “Why?” I find the key to success next time.
- I remember my favorite quote from Anne of Green Gables: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
So what if I failed yesterday? Why does that have any bearing whatsoever on tomorrow? I can be a brand new person tomorrow, if I feel like it. And I do.
So I will.
Keep your eye on the big picture. My goal isn’t really to write fifteen blog posts in one week this week, but to build up my writing endurance and my writing habit until I can successfully churn out fifteen blog posts in one week. Of course I won’t succeed the very first time I try – or the very first several times I try. But if I keep trying, eventually I will get there!
When you fail, brush it off. It’s not a reflection of your abilities in general – just your abilities at this moment. You will do better tomorrow.
How do YOU keep motivated, despite setbacks? Tell us in the comments!