That changed this week when I set a weekly mileage goal for myself. With a clear destination in mind, I automatically began planning how to reach it. Instead of saying, "Eh, I don't feel like riding tonight," I found myself saying, "If I'm going to hit my goal, I need to ride tonight."
And what do you know, I'm motivated to go out and ride even when I don't really feel like it, because, damn it! I have a goal I have to hit. I'm proudly saying, "I've ridden x mile this week."
Granted, I didn't make my goal outrageously unattainable. This week I want to ride 16 total miles. That's 4 miles on 4 days. Next week I want to ride 18 miles, and the following week, 20. My goal is to reach 24 weekly miles by mid-October. TOTALLY reachable.
And double what do you know? This same method is working for my writing, as well.
I had been so stressed that I wasn't getting much writing done now that I have a day job that I was imploding and not able to write at all. Without even realizing what I was doing, a couple of weeks ago I started setting daily writing goals for myself. I didn't say, "I'll write when I feel like it and won't write when I don't." I actually created a calendar and plotted down which days I would read, and which days I would write, and which days I would take off.
I've since altered that approach now that I'm editing Rebel Obsession. Last week I decided that I wanted the first round of edits on RO to be complete by this coming Sunday morning so I could email it to my beta readers. I took the number of pages, divided it by the number of days, and just like that I had my daily goal. I calculated that I had to edit 43 pages per day to ensure the first edit is done by Saturday night. If you know how I edit, you'll know that 43 pages is a very challenging number, but not impossible, especially for this first edit, which doesn't involve a lot of rewrites (some, but not many).
With the number calculated and in my mind, I surged forward, and I'm right on target. in fact, I'm a few pages ahead of schedule as of this morning.
This goal-setting thing really works, and just as with riding, writing has become much more fluid and I'm motivated to sit down each night so I can make my daily goal, as well as my end goal.
Notice these key points about the goals I've set:
- They are achievable. I did not set myself up to fail by giving myself a goal that would require super human abilities to attain.
- They are challenging. While the goals are achievable, they do push me to stretch to accomplish them.
- They are measurable. I'm not shooting darts and hoping for the best. I have actual, measurable numbers to stack my results up against.
- They don't rely on others. My goals are for me alone. I can't control others, so I don't want others being responsible for whether or not I achieve my goals. (Example: I can have a goal to contact 5 book reviewers each week, but I can't have a goal to get my book reviewed 5 times each week. See the difference? One I can control, the other I can't.)
What types of goals do you set for yourself? Do you find setting goals motivates you more or not?
Happy writing and happy reading!