As I said last week, I thrive on routine. I have also learned that I get so much more accomplished when I set goals for myself. Vague goals don’t help of course. Saying “I’m going to write something today”, usually means I might write 100 words if I’m lucky. But, If I say “I want to write at least 1000 words today”, I’m much more likely to get at least that much written.
This applies to every area of my life too. If I don’t put something down on my to do list, it is very unlikely to get done. But, if I can see what needs done right in front of me, I can do down the list checking things off as I finish them. Even with the list, I have a tendency to put some things of, especially phone calls(which I may get into that another day).
Of course, I have a tendency to take this too far. Back when I was in college, during my freshman and sophomore years, I would go to the gym just about every day, either to run or lift weights. I remember my mom always telling me not to push myself too hard. My response was always, “But, if I don’t push myself, how am I going to make any progress?” The problem was, I would take that too far. When I felt it getting too easy, instead of only adding one block of weight to the machine and increasing it slowly, I’d add several. And even though I never injured myself, it’s easy to get burned out on anything when you do too much too soon.
When I started writing again at the beginning of the year after doing nanowrimo last year(which kicked me back into writing after too much time away), I decided I should take it slow. So, I started out with a daily goal of 100 words. But, I knew I could do more than that, so it was like lifting five pound weight when you know you can lift fifty. But, instead of warming up my writing muscles, I bumped my writing goal right up to 750 words, and shortly after that 1000, without really giving myself time to catch up. And a few weeks in, I had stopped writing again. And when I stop writing, I become a miserable person. I’m impatient, irritable, and just miserable.
In March, I knew I needed to start writing again. I didn’t want to do too little or too much, so I started with a goal of 750 words. Then, every week or two, I would add 100 words to my goal(although I evened it out to get to 1000). Sometimes I write more than that, and some days less, but I try not to be too hard on myself if I don’t meet my goal everyday. Which is the reason I also set a weekly goal. That way if I don’t meet my goal every day, I can make it up on another day of the week, or write on the weekend if I get a chance(I usually take the weekends off though, because those are for family and are usually busy, particularly in the summer).
To keep me honest to my goals, I will be posting the week’s goals here every Monday along with how I did the week before. Last week’s goal was to write 1800 every day on my current work in progress and a total of 9000 for the week. I met that goal on Monday and Tuesday, but fell short the rest of the week and had less than 8000 by Friday night. I managed to write 639 on Saturday(even with a birthday party and bbq with friends later in the day) and another 480 on Sunday for a t0tal of 9073 for the week. This week, I’m raising my goal to 1900 a day and 9500 for the week. With the holiday this weekend, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of picnics, so hopefully I can meet that goal during the week.
What about you? Do you set goals for yourself? Or are you happy with getting whatever you can done? How do you get yourself to stick to your goals? Do you reward yourself when you meet a goal?