Setting and Achieving Little Goals
We writers are no strangers to goals. Write a short story! Write a novel! Get an agent! Get a book deal! Get on the NYTimes Bestsellers List! On and on it goes, but sometimes I think it's more important to take a step back and think about the "littler goals."
When I write, I like to pace myself. For me, writing a book's like going on a long journey. Every step counts, and I like to go at a steady pace (I personally have adopted Stephen King's method of writing 2000 words a day). So with each new project I start, my goal's never for it to be published. It's for me to enjoy working on it, day by day, enough that I can finish it. This isn't always easy, and sometimes I need a break for a few days, but my opinion's always been if it's too much of a struggle for me to finish a draft, then the idea isn't right. The passion isn't there.
I've tried to adopt this attitude of "little goals" in other areas of my life too. This year, my nutritional goal's been to eat more vegetables. At first, I tried thinking big: I wanted to completely cut out desserts and baked goods (my favorite!), but having such a big goal made me depressed whenever I couldn't keep up with it. I've found it more effective to taper off slowly, and instead eat more vegetables. And lo! After several months of adding just a couple extra spears of asparagus or handfuls of kale into my meal, I actually like vegetables now. In fact, my body craves them more (sometimes) than a good ginger molasses cookie! Weird.
Another goal's been to spend more time outside. We writers sit all day long in front of our screens (or notebooks) and I'm one of those Type-A people who feels guilty if I'm not working, but I gave myself the "little goal" of going out for an hour everyday. Whether it's to walk in the park, grab groceries, or window-shop -- I MUST go out and bask in the sunshine (or rain!) for an hour. And the result? I'm pretty sure I get a lot more work done with this break in my day, and I'm happier. Plus, my body's probably thanking me for the extra Vitamin D shot everyday.
Some other goals? Talk to more strangers, don't work on vacation, and don't say no to things just because I'm lazy. And of course, read more.
Here's a photo of what happened when I didn't say no to something because I was lazy: a couple friends wanted to go hiking just outside Seattle in the morning. I was a little lazy, but I thought to myself, "you know, it'd be fun and I haven't gone hiking this year. Let's do it!"