Sunday, March 29, 2009

Long-Term Goals and Mountain Tops

image Long-term goals are exhausting.

Lately, it feels like long-term goals are all there is. Well, it true that much of life is like that, but it just feels like all my various lives have mountains to climb.

What I love about this time of year, is that it’s the time of the year when my students start to sound really kick-ass. It always happens suddenly, and this morning, everything we’ve been working on the whole year is just all of a sudden coming together. It’s really weird how that happens.

Lately, though, it feels like writing is just a huge long-term goal, too. Well, it is.

I look at starting a new story and I sigh. Here we go again. I know the struggle ahead. I know I’ll get through it. I know I’ll love 70%-80% of the work. I know I’ll love the process when I just focus on one thing at a time. I know I’ll be thrilled at the outcome.

But the journey looks daunting.

I’ve written about this before, about the need to force one’s eyes off the mountain peak. I read somewhere that looking too long at your end destination can be detrimental.

image At some point, you have to keep your eyes on the next step. If you’re looking at the mountain top, you’re going to trip over the pebble at your feet.

Lately, I’ve been trying not to look at my long-term goals. I made the plan. I can adjust it later. I just need to look at what my very next step is.

If your entire focus is on taking one step, nothing is overwhelming. And boy, is that one step fun. Then the next step looks like fun.

Of course, until tomorrow, when I have to remind myself of the same things, all over again, LOL.

How do you balance the mountain tops and the pebbles at your feet?

21 bonus scribbles:

Eric Mayer 3/29/2009 09:14:00 PM  

One thing I have learned is that you should never think about your goal when you are engaged in trying to reach it. You need to concentrate on the process. Thinking about the goal will distract you from what you need to be doing. I might as well say "you" because I'll be damned if I can actually do that.

Another thing I learned from both running and writing books is that I know I can finish. There will be painful spots but knowing I will finish despite them is helpful. Which is why it is a good idea, if you're just starting (which you aren't) to first just finish something, however badly, to prove you can go the distance.

spyscribbler 3/29/2009 09:37:00 PM  

Man, Eric, amen! You're absolutely right. Seriously. That has been a big problem of mine. I get really overwhelmed thinking about everything I have to and want to do.

I've been trying to focus on the next step, but I think I need to take it one step further and NOT let myself think of the goal.

Edie 3/29/2009 09:39:00 PM  

I've just set a goal to finish the first draft of my story in 4 weeks, starting in a few days. That's as long-term as I'm planning right now. I've already broken it in weekly page goals and daily page goals. That way I can focus on one page at a time instead of 200.

Lisa 3/29/2009 09:51:00 PM  

TO DO list!
That's how I keep it in sync.
I have a Notes section on my iPhone -just love it, where I have different notes for: To Do and other thing

I don't factor in all my blogging time though . . .

Do you or have you read any of Lisa Shearin's series? She received favorable reviews at Fantasy Debut. In any case, she's looking for interest level for a signed and personalized copy of both her soon to be released book and last years. Sign up on her blog. She really seems like such a sweet and considerate person. I don't think I was in a good place when I read her first book last year so I didn't order the second one. I read some chapters and it's really quite enjoyable. Anyhow, I thought you might enjoy it.

Lisa 3/29/2009 09:52:00 PM  

oh i forgot, bigger goals need to be broken down into smaller ones so that you can have a feeling of accomplishment.

Charles Gramlich 3/29/2009 10:35:00 PM  

YOu're exactly right. They are exhausting, and for that reason I find myself sometimes focusing on short term goals I can get done now and neglecting the longer term ones that will pay off more in time.

Aimless Writer 3/30/2009 08:37:00 AM  

One step at a time. Doing what has to be done and just moving on to the next.
Goals?
Now that's a scary word.

Bevie 3/30/2009 08:48:00 AM  

I bloody myself up tripping, stumbling, and walking into obstacles while taking the wrong path!

Can't really help you. I've never achieved any of my goals. I expect the advice you're getting from others is sound.

Melanie Avila 3/30/2009 10:47:00 AM  

Small goals are the way to go for me. Like Eric said, if you get hung up on the BIG goal, you'll never reach it. It can be too overwhelming.

I love breaking projects down into easier-to-manage tasks (design website vs design navigation bar) so I have a sense of accomplishment when I finish each task and stay more motivated to continue.

Barbara Martin 3/30/2009 11:21:00 AM  

I take the short term goals first while dabbling at the long term goals. This takes you slowly toward the end goal: the mountain top. Slow, steady and perseverance will get you to the top.

Nadine 3/30/2009 02:30:00 PM  

When I set a big goal, like finish my WIP in a month, I get overwhelmed and get nothing done. But if I set a small goal, like doing 3,000 words a day, I make progress and manage to finish in the same amount of time as the big goal.

G 3/30/2009 06:01:00 PM  

I echo the sentiments of everyone else here. If you try to set some ginormous (my favorite adjective right now) goal, you'll never met it because you'll just find ways not to achieve it.

Smaller is better. My current writing related goal is to get my second novel finished by Novemmber. To achieve it, I simply set small multiple goals to get there, like working on it every day. No matter how many words I produce, I work on it every day.

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:13:00 PM  

Edie, good luck! That's what I've been really striving to do, lately: focus on one small thing at a time.

It's definitely a struggle for me!

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:16:00 PM  

Lisa, her covers and titles are awesome! I will definitely have to check her out. Thanks!

I need to pat myself on the back after completing the small steps. I really do. Great reminder!

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:16:00 PM  

Charles, that, in essence, is my ENTIRE writing career, LOL. I really need to go for the long pay-off, but I'm always going for the quick pay-off. *sigh*

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:17:00 PM  

Aimless, definitely a scary word! One step at a time. It's my mantra, lately!

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:18:00 PM  

Hah, Bevie! I've definitely done that, for sure! Why do we have to do things the hard way, sometimes?

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:19:00 PM  

Melanie, I love that. I definitely need to work on tinier goals, for sure! Some days, telling myself to write 100 words is all that keeps me going!

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:20:00 PM  

OOh, I like that approach, Barbara. "Dabbling" in the long-term goals. That doesn't feel scary at all, when you put it like that!

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:20:00 PM  

Nadine, when I do that, I have to even break it down to: write 500 words this hour. LOL! Otherwise, I get freaked out!

spyscribbler 3/30/2009 09:21:00 PM  

G, ginourmous is an AWESOME word! I love it! I want to say it over and over and over!

And yes, so true. Good luck on finishing your novel!