What kind of goal(s) do you have right now? I bet they’re outcome-focused:
I do have process goals- really, more so than any outcome goal.
After a couple of years of writing this monthly newsletter, I continue to struggle with it 98% of the time. It ends up hijacking my lunch breaks as the deadline presses closer and closer. I usually feel overwhelmed and frantic, either from too many ideas to put into a cogent essay, or no idea what to write about but I’ve got to come up with something to meet my business commitment.
Many months ago, in an effort to ease the stress, I changed the “start writing” date on my appointment calendar, giving myself an extra week in advance of the deadline. A couple of times that did the trick, and I even finished my writing project early! I thought, okay, got it handled now.
But no, that didn’t consistently get my monthly missive written in time to send on the first of the month. I would slog along, knowing that if I just stuck with it, I would get it done and sent. BUT, by now I also knew that just meant I would go through this icky cycle again and again- the next start writing date with too many or no idea, the weeks of work break slogs and maybe getting it our with a minimum of typos and errors.
Then last month, as I finished, it occurred to me that just like I do almost everything else, on a schedule of a little bit at a time, I could try writing a little bit at a time. Friday, June 7th, I decided I would set aside one lunch break a week to write. That, I thought, would break it up into 4-5 shorter intervals, without hijacking the whole week (or sometimes 2).
It was a great “process goal”. Did it happen? No. Here it is, June 23, 2021, and I am just today beginning to write. I didn’t even get a writing idea until last Friday, with more inspiration from an email I read Sunday, this one from Lisa Lewis PhD, with the post regarding “Process Goals”.
Does this mean give up, that once a week at lunch break didn’t work, that the goal or the idea failed? No. It means identify what hijacked the goal and strategize how to handle that interference when it happens next time (‘cause it will).
This first go around, some of what hijacked me is just too much on my want-to-do list for the time allowed. I managed some of this by goofing off instead. But really, I had a hard time doing just what I am good at with exercise: setting a list and a schedule and sticking to it, let the rest take care of itself. (Remember the movie Shakespeare in Love? Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) tells Mr. Fennyman (Tom Wilkinson), "Strangely enough, it all turns out well." Fennyman asks, "How?" and Henslowe replies, "I don't know, its a mystery"
Why tell you of my monthly newsletter writing challenge? For the reason that many of you share with me what stopped you from practicing during the pandemic and continues to stop you currently. There is no magic bonk on the head from the wand of a good fairy. We are not just natural or instinctive about making all the right choices. It’s all hard work, trial and error, experimentation and research. It’s not instant gratification that gives that feel good hit every time.
I wrote in July 2020 “After Motivation, Then What?” . In it I specifically outlined my own tools to keep practicing. If you need ideas, go back and read it.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I sent out an email with,
You have to call forth your own ideas about how to take action. Only you know all the intricacies of your 24 hours day, 7 days a week, monthly duties, seasonal happenings. Because only you know what is so valuable to you or not so worthy that you will choose what is a priority or what can be set aside, even temporarily. Others can share their experience and suggestions. Those are the hard work of trial and error, experiment and research for your being. You aren’t another. You are you.
… “Understanding that [clients] are the experts on themselves.
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