The best goals are executed slowly. I know someone whose new year’s goal is to take one fitness class per week. Then up that number after a month. This is an excellent way of establishing long-term habits. It prevents the burnout of starting big only to get discouraged later when we don’t meet our own sky-high expectations.
I know how lofty expectations can be ultimately discouraging. For years, I could rise early and get my writing done, no problem. It hasn’t been that way for months now. I struggle daily with the drive to write—even though it will bring deep satisfaction. So, I’m rebuilding my stamina again little by little. I have lofty goals, but I won’t get there without small victories.
Here are a few things I’ve been doing to set myself up for success:
1) Starting small. It is the most important thing. In my previous blog about my new year’s goals, it may seem like I was setting out to do everything all at once, and biting off more than I could chew. I’m not. I want to build myself up to the daily goals. Right now, I am focused on rising earlier (some success) and editing an hour per day. I am also trying to do a blog post a week, but I’m not putting time in every day. Drafting new material is on the back burner until I can establish more of a routine. Once that happens, I will try to do more. By July, I hope that my goals will be a system—a mode of behavior that is a regular part of life. Then it won’t be about the goals anymore, but moving forward with my daily system.
2) I got rid of my smartphone. If you read my earlier blogs, you know I had a love-hate relationship with my smartphone. It was a fantastic tool that put tons of information at my fingertips. It was also a time-suck. There would be nights where I sat down on the couch after my daughter went to bed expecting to read a book. Then I would want to “just check my email.” An hour and a half later, my reading time was gone. So I ditched the phone for a dumb model. I know my self well enough that I can’t have it. My tablet is my only portable device now (more on that later).
3) I deleted the internet browsers off my computer. The story was the same every day: I would wake, go downstairs to write, and end up watching Youtube for two hours instead. I tried removing my Wi-Fi dongle and putting it upstairs, but I would go get it. I tried using productivity software, but I got around it. So, I created a Windows admin account on my desktop computer (which my wife has the password to—so I can’t reinstall anything) and I deleted or disabled all the browsers on it. My desktop computer now can’t access the internet. My productivity has jumped.
4) Understanding my weaknesses. I’ve done a lot thinking about my weaknesses. If I have free reign with a smartphone, I will waste hours of my life. If I have a browser on my computer, I will read the news instead of working. That is why my wife also holds the password to my tablet—I can’t get on unless she signs me in. Is it limiting and frustrating (for both of us)? Yes. But it helps me get work done. And it helps me stay focused.
What will these steps help me to achieve? Two new novels released. Another new one or two drafted. Deeper satisfaction with my work. More time to write. More time to read.
Though it may sound strange—more freedom.
What I’m reading now: