At this moment, I want you to look at the list of five things for five years and ask?
Did you limit them because of what you thought you could actually do in five years or did you see how far you can push it?
Resolutions or Goals are merely guiding posts
When this year began I decided that I was going to make as many of my goals as trackable as possible. There would be a way to document how much was actually done, and well, catching up on them wouldn’t be remiss if I could.
So I calculated what I thought would be a good amount of writing a day.
Getting 200 words a day done.
Then I read a quote from someone, a woman*, about how she wrote her first thousand words before breakfast every day. I thought that was crazy until I realized she never said two things.
A) They didn’t have to be good words.
B) They didn’t have to have anything to do with anything else.
So I timed myself seeing how long it took to blather on for 1000 words.
It was 30 minutes on average.
That sounded like a good amount of starting time for something that I really want to make my career and off I went. My goal went from writing 73,200 words this year to writing 366,000. Remember 2020 is a leap year.
I was also behind in March, I gave myself a challenge to write 5000 words a day to both catch up and use time more wisely than just vegging in the middle of a weird pandemic. If, I had completed it fully, I would have been caught up and ahead.
But I didn’t. I also learned that writing for five hours is a different matter than writing for an hour. Distractions are much easier to find for one. But I keep trucking along this goal because, in all honesty, I really just wanted to know how much I wrote in a year.
And make it a true part of my morning routine. Still working on that. I have almost four months to get it there.
Back to the type of goal setting I did
These trackable goals were intended to be completed. They were intended with all the heart and vivacity of giving this year the best shot of succeeding that I could manufacture. And what has arrived has been one of those little moments of clarity that I really just don’t know if it’s me or someone else.
I hate the advice that you should have your three big things and that’s all you put on your to-do list. OR your ‘get-to-do’ list. Semantics.
It takes away my momentum. If nothing I do that day counts, then if I don’t accomplish those big things the day is wasted. And personally that seems dumb. So I changed my rules.
I looked at my schedule and realized that I had about six things that needed to get done every day. Projects that needed attention in small actions (writing 1000 words, going to work, for example). Each person’s daily do’s is going to be different. I would pick an average day and stick with that. I also wouldn’t go over ten things.
Make yourself a little chart and figure out that means you need to do 186 things in a month with 31 days and your goal is to pass the month. With 70%. 131 things need to get done that month.
There are going to be some days that you check off 14 things and man was that a good day.
KEEP A LIST.
This is intended as a momentum builder. We all know that we need to get things done. This is a list of any significant action you took to make your life a little better. I put fun reading on my list. I put my morning routine when I was still getting it into a habit on my list**.
If you want to make it look pretty or more functional, look up bullet journaling and lock away your money because nice journals are an addiction.
There is something about looking at a list of things and seeing them all highlighted. Or most of them. I also like ‘cheater’ things. You know like write 100 words, finish a blog post.
Because when I write the blog post I’m doing both of those things since my posts are now usually over 1000 words.
Go wild with what’s on the list. I do recommend putting the things that you’re having a hard time actually completing on it and just moving them over to the next day until they bother you enough that they finally get done.
I also recommend putting things on there that you have no issue actually doing but they do add to your life. If nothing else, you got something done.
Your Fabulous Five
I want you to take a hard look at the five things that you wrote down. If they have a number I want you to half it. Like for my 40+ countries one, that would be twenty.
IF I only travelled 20 countries in the next five years would I still feel like it was something great?
The answer is yes.
IF the answer is no, your dream isn’t big enough to motivate you. It’s small enough to be achievable and that’s a nice goal, but it’s not fabulous enough. Go bigger.
After all, I’m from Texas, we go bigger and better all the time. I mean look at the size of our state***.
Think of this thing as a hierarchy of sorts.
There are BIG GOALS.
There are goals to get to the big goals.
And then there are subgoals that are the daily actions that get you to where you want to be. I feel that there shouldn’t be more hierarchy than this because then you get to far from seeing the end result.
One of my projects is to be able to reference any of my writing, anywhere. That means it all has to be digital because I am not lugging around all these totes everywhere I go.
Remember the 40 countries?
That means scanning everything. I tried to get about 50 pages a day done. It sounds like a lot but it isn’t. Because I still haven’t done all of it. Then there’s the fact that my journals aren’t exactly the most organized things on the planet. They make sense to me but my scanning software doesn’t like all the color. So I have to go back and fix it so that I could read it.
ANd then there’s tagging everything with the name that it is.
Then add in the fact that I’m adding to it, every day. Thankfully not by 50 pages a day like I was in college but you know, I’ve gotten more concise and stopped writing in the margins of printouts from professors….
This sub goal is a part of the goal to write anywhere, which is a part of the wish to travel that many countries. I didn’t want to have a time stamp of when I had to leave somewhere because of a work vacation or something, so I decided on how I would get to do that thing.
I’m making progress and I can see by the full bin of writing that I’ve scanned so far what I’ve done. Doesn’t exactly help to see the one that I still have left to do but it’ll be done eventually, too.
But this tote is where I realized that I got more done when I could see the progress I was making. The fuller the bin got, the more I wanted to do the project. I do this with pretty much every project–from knitting, to writing a short story–and I decided that if a tactic worked in one space, it’d work in another.
I also remembered the only D I got in college and how proud of that I was. Granted I refused to write the paper that was 40% of my grade because this teacher did not need to read my opinions on how this book we were reading had nothing to do with the assignment but I digress.
I also hated the teachers that told me I started with a 100 and lost points as I went along. I liked the ones that were like, this is what you do to get a 100. Follow these instructions and here are dates that I expect certain things. Don’t burn down the building. End of instructions.
Listen to the Muse
To listen to the muse or not. That is the question.
I’m a fan of listening to the muse of the day. The one that gets me to do all of a certain thing at once and then tomorrow I probably won’t feel like doing any of that thing.
Like yesterday, when I knocked out a bunch of sewing projects and looking at a needle and thread today makes me want to swear.
Last night the muse for writing started talking, and I’d be stupid to tell her to shut up. I just got up and wrote. This morning she’s still talking so you’re getting this blog post.
Listening to the muse is like picking your battles to win the war.
Sure, I may get nothing that was originally on my list of things to do today (I’m off work, and well I wanted to clean things) but they will get done–eventually.
So here’s the homework I’m giving you this week.
We’re going to have an idea of how many things you get done during a day. Answering email can be one, but not each individual email you respond to. Basically, the task on your list should take longer than ten minutes. Unless it’s that phone call.
Then keep track of how many things you get done during the day and give yourself a percentage. The goal is 70% because that’s a passing grade in school. And it’s a good marker of things. It’s more than half done, and sometimes that can tip you into do the last thing on the list to get a 100%… I’ve done this and well it works.
As always, find a little joy in your life, and make a little more,
*I can literally see the picture in my head but it doesn’t zoom in enough to read the smallest font with her name on it.
**I didn’t have the percentage thing then though. That’s new, and super useful, to me anyways.
***I don’t want to hear from you Alaskans…