Goals are intended to be aspirational. Motivational. Encouraging. They’re designed to keep you on track, to hold you accountable, to help you achieve, to reach further than you have before. Goals are awesome, inspiring contracts we make first and foremost with ourselves. Like our Write or Consequences goals, they often come bundled with interested bystanders who are working alongside us to achieve their personal goals. Sometimes our goals remain personal, with no one to track our progress or celebrate our success – or commiserate on our failures, but most often, when we set goals for ourselves, we share them with someone, because let’s be honest: if you had to set a goal to achieve something, then it’s probably something you need a kick in the pants to attain.
Personally, I’m awesome at achieving goals. I earned a college degree while working a full time day job. I’ve lost fifty pounds at least four times in my life. I published two books with Silhouette Special Edition. When I’m really driven, I can knuckle-down and focus on the finish line with the best of them.
Why then have I only avoided our ice-bucket dunking one out of three times? After a bit of introspection, I think the key to my previous achievements was a soft time frame. My steady job provided a good income, so I wasn’t in a rush to graduate. When dieting, I’ve never had a big event as the finish line. And publishing – well, when publishing with a traditional house, an author never has control of the timeline. But our Write or Consequences ice bucket challenges? That’s all about working towards a deadline, a skill an author should definitely master, but one that continues to give me troubles.
I think Lorinda was really onto something with her When Pigs Fly initiative. By breaking longer goals into shorter segments, there’s no time to lollygag on making forward progress. Unfortunately, I’m very good at recognizing good ideas, but not so good at implementing them.
My goal this go-round is to run my completed first draft of Book One, Peace of Heart, through critique group and get it publish ready. In addition, I’ve tasked myself with turning the twenty-thousand words of pre-writing I did on Book Three from our last challenge into thirty-thousand manuscript-worthy words.
We’re about two months into this goal period and, while I’m killing it on part one, I’ve yet to lift a finger on part two. Running my manuscript through critique group is easy. All I have to do each week is read a chapter, check for typos and turn it in. Really no writing involved, so of course I’m not having any trouble keeping up with that commitment.
The actual writing part of my writing goal? Major trouble there.
Again, I set myself down and asked, “Why?”
I didn’t get a clear answer, but my best guess boils down to an extension of my beloved productive procrastination. Each week, I have a chunk of pages to turn in to critique group; therefore, in my mind, I’m making progress on my goal. Yes, I’m meeting my commitments, but I’m not honoring the spirit of our goal challenge.
Once again, I’m leaving the bulk of the work to the latter half of our allotted time. And once again, I’ll more than likely be burning the midnight oil in the last few weeks, trying to accomplish months’ worth of work in a matter of days. Why oh why do I do this to myself over and over again?
Am I a masochist? Unable to learn from my past mistakes? Lazy? Crazy? Self-defeating?
Probably a little all of the above. Mostly, I think it’s time management. I spend most of my time dealing with the have-to-be-done-now aspects of life. My writing gets shuffled to the bottom of my to-be-done pile until it hits critical on my to-do list.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means one of those Energizer Bunny people who are always on the move. Nope. When I’m on, I’m on, but I live and die by my downtime. I need to sit alone and read, or do a digital-jigsaw puzzle or veg in front of home improvement shows. It’s how I recharge, and these moments of idleness are necessary to keep myself sane.
The ideal situation would be if my writing could become the thing I use to recharge, but unfortunately, I’m not wired that way.
My hope is that being aware of my shortcomings can help me manage them. Now that I’ve experienced life on the dry team, I’m praying I can find enough Goal Power to stay dry a second time!
Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.