At the start of November, I set myself a daily goal to write 1,000 words.
The problem was, the goal lacked context, it lacked reward, it lacked accountability and therefore I lacked commitment.
By the end of November, I had written just over half of the 30,000 words I had intended to write.
FAIL! You may say…
Wagging fingers. Bad. You didn’t do it. Live with the guilt of being useless.
However, cliche as it is, I don’t view ‘failure’ as a bad thing. Failure is one of life’s most important lessons.
To start with, what are the consequences of this failing on my part?
The only consequences are to me, they are my own guilt. I could wallow in it and spiral into a negative self-talk deluge and end up feeling bad about myself and convincing myself that this one failing means I’m a failure at everything.
I could do that….
But I won’t.
Beating myself up for it serves no-one, least of all me.
We’re Taught That Only Winning Matters
Society, culture, education, it all teaches us that failure is bad, therefore you must feel bad, “You’re not a winner”, as if winning was all that mattered? And ‘winning’ at what exactly?
Just because I’m ‘not winning’ at one thing doesn’t mean I’m not winning in other areas of my life?
Perhaps all of this is smacks of making excuses for myself. For my lack of commitment and discipline – For my ‘lack’…
However, despite not completing the 30,000 words goal, I don’t feel like I have ‘failed’. I’m not experiencing a sense of ‘lack’, in fact, the opposite is true.
Partway through the month, realising that other priorities and motivations were going to make it hard to write 1,000 words a day, I revised my goal. I halved the goal and ended up easily achieving it.
Do I get to be a winner now?
Some days, I didn’t write at all, other days I wrote many more than 1,000 words. However, most days I did write. In the end, I averaged 500 words a day.
That’s 15,000 more words written than at the start of the month. Those words became the basis of at least 2 blogs and the bones of my business plan for 2020.
What Did I Learn?
- Writing is not the most important thing. There are other things that are more important at different times and on different days. When we say we ‘don’t have time’ for something, what we are really saying is ‘that’s not a priority, today’.
- Writing Unintentionally really works! Well fancy that, the advice I give to others, really works when I apply it to myself! I really should follow my own advice more often.
- I need to follow my own advice more often! I talk to clients and contacts regularly about developing a healthy writing habit, writing little and often because I know it works. Setting myself this goal made me monitor my own activity and realise this for myself, with real lived experience. Therefore, it stands to reason that when I talk to other businesses, sharing my own tips and experience, what I’m saying to them will also work for me – (but sometimes, you still need to hear it from someone else because then you become accountable!).
- At weekends, I need time off. Setting yourself a daily goal, while it might serve you to get through a project faster, is unrealistic. We can’t be ‘on it’ all the time. We need time to reboot, decompress, relax and do something that isn’t ‘work’. Now that I work for myself, writing ‘is’ work!
- Set an arbitrary goal then refine it. What can seem like a feasible goal at the start of a project, can often change when the reality of taking action towards that goal strikes. Everything always takes longer than you expect it to. If there is one lesson I am consistently reminded of in just under 5 years of self-employment, it is that! It’s OK to set a goal, then reassess it when it becomes apparent that it is no longer realistic.
How Will I Put Those Lessons into Action?
Writing unintentiaonlly has been enlightening.
I have already set up and started using a document so that when I do sit down to ‘just write’ I can keep it in once place.
I have used my 500 daily words in November to inspire and inform other content and plans and will continue to do this.
One of the great joys of writing in this way is the catharsis of the process and the cleansing experience of getting my thoughts and ideas out of my brain where I can either act on them or box them away so they no longer distract me.