Happy New Year, and welcome back! Hope you all had a safe and festive holiday season. I got Charlie a kitten for Christmas, so this may or may not end well. The kitten’s name is Smeagol…mostly because he’s small, he’s grey, and I’m reasonably certain he’s plotting to kill me once I go to sleep. While I was taking a much needed break, I came across a blog post by Jamie Raintree where she explained a set of spreadsheets she created to track writing progress. I was intrigued, so I sent her an email and asked her for the spreadsheets. I have to tell you, they’re kinda cool. She graciously agreed to guest post for the blog, so I’ll let her get to it.
So, no, you can’t know the direction life will lead you and you can’t stress over the things you have no control over, but you do have your own two hands, your mind, and your imagination. So as you dream big dreams and strive toward your goals, here are a few ways to do it on purpose.
1. Make it the first thing you think about in the morning. When my alarm clock goes off in the morning, the message on my iPad says, “Time to do what you love!” The song is I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas, which has special meaning to me. Write a message on your bathroom mirror. Read your favorite inspirational blog or listen to an motivational YouTube video. Make each and every day count because it’s the little things that add up to the big things.
2. And the last thing you think about at night. As I lay in bed I go over my schedule for the next day and think about how to make my next scene come together so I have something to start with in the morning. Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you. Put your mind to it at night and let your subconscious do the work. Fill your literal dreams with ideas that will fuel your metaphorical ones.
3. Set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Risky, Timely. Don’t try to plan for your whole year. It will feel unrealistic and frustrating. Instead, set a big goal or two for the year, and then break it up into several SMART goals that push your boundaries but are still within reach. Keep breaking them into smaller chunks until they become something you can get excited about, until you believe, “I can do this.”
4. Track your progress. I’m motivated by getting things done. The more I see the little dial leaning closer and closer to success, the more pumped I am to push myself harder. A few years ago I created a Writing Progress Spreadsheet to log my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly word count achievements for that exact reason and I have been updating it and sharing it with writers ever since (which is how I had the pleasure to meet Erin!). You can get a copy on my website but however you do it, keep track so that on the days you lose hope, you can look back and see how far you’ve already come. If you’ve made it this far, you can make it all the way.
5. Take time to appreciate your achievements. I have a bad habit of checking one thing off my list and moving right onto the next. But just like tracking progress, it’s important to relish in what you’re doing right. Celebrate in whatever way makes you feel like a rockstar. Just like with children and pets, you want to do more of what rewards you. Reward yourself in a way that makes you want to do it again. And again.
So if you’re struggling with setting your goals for the new year, have decided not to do them at all, or fear you won’t make it past January without falling off the wagon, remember that this isn’t just about a new year, this is about your life. Wake up each morning and live it with purpose.
Link to Writing Progress Spreadsheet: http://jamieraintree.com/2011-writing-progress-spreadsheet