Get Real

For those of you that don’t know me, this time of year is one of two times during the year where I drift pretty heavily into an introspective mood – the other time is my Birthday (which is in July, so they’re nicely spaced apart).

Here we are NaNoWriMo has passed, and the New Year is approaching. We’re just about equally distant from both of them.

If you did NaNo (I didn’t), whether you “Won” or not, you’ve already dome some prepping for the New Year by setting goals for yourself.

Maybe you hit them, and maybe you didn’t. The point is that you set a goal and went for it.

The turn of the year is another time where most folks start thinking about setting goals. The difference here is that most folks fail to reach them (I don’t have the actual NaNo stats, but I prefer to think that the majority of participants succeeded).

Part of the reason why, I think, comes down to setting unrealistic goals. NaNo breaks down into nice pieces. All you have to do is write 1667 words a day, for 30 days.

Now, for me in my life where it’s at, that 1667 words is an unrealistic goal. Looking back on what I wrote on the year that I tried it, it was painfully obvious that I was writing to a word count. And that was during a time when I had a bit of time off work. When I went back to the day-job that kind of pace simply wasn’t sustainable.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t challenge yourself occasionally – actually, I think that you should do it often. I certainly think I need to.

But there’s a difference between challenging yourself and setting an utterly unrealistic goal. The both give you something to work toward but, when reality sets in (usually right around February), the unrealistic goal slips away and old patterns/habits reassert themselves.

A carefully thought out goal changes those habits. They, quite literally, change your life. And here’s the thing: They do it over time, not all at once – which is a hallmark of the unrealistic goal.

I’m not going to get into what my own goals were for this year, and what they are going to be for Next Year. That’s another post. I’m still evaluating the former, and I’ve got another fortnight to consider the latter.

So I would suggest to you to stop a bit and think about where you are and where you want to be. If you’re like me, there’s work yet to do. Think about what it would take to get you one step closer – and be realistic about what constitutes a step, even a stretchy one, for you. Set that as your goal. While you’re getting there, think about that next step, and the one after that.

See you on Thursday.

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