It’s almost the end of January and New Year’s Resolutions have come and in some cases gone. How do you re-engage the motivation to achieve those goals that seemed exciting and within reach just a few short weeks ago?
Setting the goal points our mind to the destination that we want to move towards but motivating the heart to want to move towards that goal can be daunting, especially if what is going to get you to the goal is a whole bunch of slogging along the way. My goal this year is to revise a novel I wrote in November. The first draft is done. The proof copy is in hand. The story arc has been revised and now it is the sentence-by-sentence revision that has to be done – 310 pages of it. This is the sticky, slogging part where it is easy to lose motivation and give up because the job just seems too immense. It is not uncommon to look at the big mountain in front and think “Forget it, I never wanted to climb this thing anyway” – but in this case, I really do want to climb this mountain. It is something I’ve always wanted to do and it is something I’m doing for me and my own personal growth and satisfaction. In work and family life you often live and do for other people but to keep balanced it is important to have something that you do for yourself. I’m not advocating selfishness – just balance. Choosing to incorporate something new, challenging and fun into your day or week can create enthusiasm and spread joy into the other aspects of your life.
Drawing on a lot of great books I’ve been reading, I’ve developed some strategies to help me to keep climbing the mountain.
First of all I’ve got an accountability group – a group of like-minded people that are going to meet once a month and to whom I will report on my progress or lack thereof. There is nothing like having to tell your peers that you’ve been lazy or unfocused to help motivate movement. The encouragement and motivation they will provide for me will be great but also the opportunity to do the same for them will also be rewarding.
Secondly, I’ve created smaller monthly goals within the larger goal to give me small victories along the way. There is nothing as sweet as success to inspire more success. My smaller goal is to complete the revisions of two chapters a month. If I keep on that schedule I will have revised the book within the year. And even though this may be juvenile, I have a “goal poster” and each time I reach one of those goals I have a small reward attached to it. The other thing I’ve done to give myself a mental boost is to create the ladder on the poster with all the steps already achieved set out below me…so I’m not at the beginning of the journey, I’m starting closer to the end!
And finally, I’ve outlined a set of daily activities that will help me translate the goals I’ve set into concrete actions. Since I’m a total newbie at this revision thing I expect I will have to revise my daily activity level to hit my goal. For January and February I’m going to focus on 30 minutes a day of revising. This is totally achievable within all the other things going on in my life – new company, seven kids and a travelling husband. If I stay on track I will have completed close to 30 hours of revising and re-written four chapters. At that time I’ll reassess my project and plans making the necessary adjustments but I’ll keep on going because I’m already part way there.