Monday, March 5, 2012

Goals Gone Wild

Sometimes we travel smoothly toward our goal, meeting each small one with relative ease, while getting closer and closer to the final big one.

Then along comes a day or a week or even more when everything and everybody seems to be determined to keep us from meeting any goal of any kind.  It's like being stuck in the far left lane of a super highway during rush hour, forced to move along with others and unable to get to the other side to the exit ramp, even if it's the wrong one.

There's no sense fighting it.  Sometimes it's easier and more mentally healthy to just go with the flow and try to think happy thoughts of whatever is impeding our progress.  Or divert thoughts of murder.  Or, at the very least, torture.  Besides, nothing is forever and life is in a constant state of flux.  If you can hang on for just a little while, the situation will change.

The fact is, nothing can stop us in our tracks quicker than goals gone wild.  Motivation flies out the window, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than-- Well, you get the idea.  Trying to get back that motivation can be the equivalent of cleaning up the jar of honey the kids spilled on the kitchen floor.  (In our house, once upon a time, it was the bottle of Karo syrup on the cement floor of the basement.  Hey, at least it was cement.)  Our first instinct is to run far, far away.  That's the flight part of the fight-or-flight response we're all born with.  I'll admit it.  I'm a flighter.  But sooner or later, I'm going to come around and fight.  And that's where I am today.

As stated before, I have a writing goal to get me to the deadline I set for two manuscripts.  Being the Queen of Procrastination, I know that if I don't have a goal, I'll wait until the last minute to get anything done.  But when it comes to writing an entire 55,000 to 60,000 word novel, waiting until the last minute is about the worst thing that can be done.  Therefore, I've learned to set those goals (deadlines) and break them down into doable bits and pieces...even with time set aside for living the good life.  Or attempting to, anyway.

The first week didn't go as planned, but I refused to give up.  I was able to catch up, reach my word/page goal, and finish a chapter over the weekend--the last two days designated for the goal.  The next week was a mishmash of a few pages here and there, then finishing over the weekend.  While I'd initially planned to keep my weekends free, they did come in handy for catching up.  I just don't want to make a habit of doing that.

Then came last week.  As far as writing was concerned, it was a wash.  A big fat zero.  A disaster.  Even writing my blogs was eventually ignored.  Why?  My youngest daughter (and I) are once again babysitting her 2-year-old niece and 4-year-old nephew (two of my five grands).  It began last Wednesday, and in spite of my resolve to at least get blogs written regularly, I failed.  Miserably.  Not only with blogs, but my writing goal as well.  Then came Saturday, and with little sleep the night before, I attended my writing group's mini-retreat.  I had a great time and enjoyed talking about writing, brainstorming and plotting, but writing wasn't possible.  There was still Saturday evening, but those are always set aside for family night, so there was no writing done then.

By Sunday, I was a full week behind, but having been on this path to nowhere before, I took the bull by the horns, calculated how many pages a day I would have to write to get caught up in a week, and sat down at the computer.  Granted, it took me most of the day to write 5 pages (1 page more than needed for the day), but I stuck with it until the writing came a little easier.  It took three attempts to get a beginning written, but I did it.  And the 4-pages-a-day goal isn't any worse than it was before combining last week's goal with this week's, meaning my writing goal for week has doubled, but it's still easily doable.  If I'd waited, it might seem far too daunting to even attempt.  I'm glad I didn't let that happen and am already halfway through today's goal.

Family, friends, health issues, and a thousand other things can pull us away from our goals.  But that doesn't mean we have to throw up our hands and give up.  Giving up never gains anything.  So if life comes along and throws a stick in one of the wheels of your goal, stop, take a deep breath, remove the stick, and then adjust your goal in a way that it can be accomplished without pain. Believe me, if the Queen of Procrastination can do it, anyone can...and probably better.

What things in life have come along at one time or another to make you want to chuck your goals and pretend you don't know what the word means?
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” - Author Unknown


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