THIS IS THE THIRD of a series on achieving your writing and productivity goals. In Part 2, you created an action plan for your Big Rock goal. (If you haven’t been following along, we suggest you start with Part 1 and read forward.)
Today, I want to talk about how to get started and stay motivated.
For most people, once you’ve defined your first step, getting started is the easy part. That is, if you’ve broken your first step down into small enough tasks to feel easy. And that’s the key — not only to getting started but to staying started — each task should take so little effort and time that it’s a no-brainer to get it done.
Let me say that again, in a slightly different way — each task should feel so easy that it would be silly NOT to do it.
Let me give you an example of what easy looks like.
Let’s say that your goal is to write the first draft of your memoir, and your first step is to write an outline. Well, I don’t know about you, but writing an outline for an entire book seems pretty daunting to me. I might be inclined to put that off until I have “enough time” or “enough energy” to focus on it. And if you’ve never written an outline for a book — or even if you have, but this is a different kind of book — you might feel lost about how to get started and flounder around a little.
The answer to that floundering feeling is to break your steps down into minuscule, ridiculously easy tasks.
Break your steps down into minuscule, ridiculously easy tasks. CLICK TO TWEET
Here’s what’s not daunting to me as a first action: brainstorm scene ideas for 10 minutes.
My reaction to that task is, “I can do that. I can set a timer on my watch for 10 minutes and simply brainstorm.” Done!
Then what? Repeat that step, once each day, until I run out of ideas.
Then what? Task #2: Put the chapter titles in the order I think they should go. If that feels scary or like too much all at once, I can work on it for a specific amount of time and repeat until done, just like the first task.
Do you see how this works?
Okay, now that you’ve gotten started, you feel good. Anything seems possible, and then life happens. You get a flat tire, or unexpected guests show up during your writing time, or your kids get sick, throwing you completely off your planned schedule.
Interruptions and challenges are going to happen. The important part is to keep your goals in sight and not to let temporary obstructions get you down.
Achieving your goals is like a marathon, not a sprint. And just like running a marathon, it takes determination and a certain amount of grit to keep going, no matter what.
Keeping Your Goals in Sight – the Daily Review
The best way I know of keeping my goals front and center is to review them each morning. It takes less than five minutes. Here’s the process I recommend:
Read each goal and check off any tasks you accomplished the day before (if you haven’t checked them off already). Checking off tasks as you complete them will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Read the reasons you wrote down for achieving that goal. This step is important, because when challenges occur, reminding yourself WHY you wanted to do this in the first place will keep you going.
Decide on your next best step and write it down. Remember to make it easy and doable.
Schedule the time for that task into your day.
The truth is that life will do its best to get in your way, and if you don’t keep your goals front and center — every day — it’s far too easy to forget about them or to keep shoving them down the list of priorities.
What other ways can you keep your goals in sight and stay motivated?
Amber Starfire offers coaching, classes, and books about writing at writingthroughlife.com