I’ve found that it’s often the goals that scare me the most (and the goals that I usually want the most) that are the ones which are hardest to follow through on. It probably stems from my tendency to be a perfectionist (aka, why try at all if it’s not going to turn out exactly as I want it), but because I know that it’s a weakness of mine, I’ve had to come up with ways to work around it.
One of my big life goals is that I want to write (and eventually publish) a book. It used to be that I dreamed not just of writing any book, though, but that I wanted to write an award-winning book—a Pulitzer Prize winner, ideally, or at least something that would crack the NY Times Bestseller list. I mean, setting my dreams high should only FUEL my dreams, right?
For me, setting such high expectations crippled me so that whenever I tried to start, I would get frustrated because what I was producing wasn’t Pulitzer-worthy, and then I would give up for another year or two.
Finally, back in 2015, I sat down and just started to write–not with the intention of even publishing the thing, but just with the intention of FINISHING it.
I have not yet finished my novel.
However, after taking about a year off from working on it at all, I’m ready again to try and re-tame my inner writer to start in again, to continue where I left off, to finally maybe gain the momentum I need to finish at least the first draft already.
But this time, I have a secret weapon—
My new gigantic wall calendar.
You see, like Gretchen Rubin, I’m a “gold star junkie”–I’ve always loved getting praise and recognition and visual reminders that I’m “on track.” In some ways, this can be a negative thing for sure, but in many ways, I’ve found that it makes me pretty easy to motivate.
So, since I don’t want to be endlessly needy and make my husband congratulate me heartily every time I sit down to write a sentence (although I definitely have done that already this month), I’ve devised a system to literally give myself gold stars (or gold butterfly stickers, as the case actually will be) every time I reach my allotted goal for the day and week—
Basically, I’ll be keeping track of my daily written word count (blogging counts!) on my elephantine wall calendar and every time I hit a pre-determined count (1,000 words in a day or 5,000 words in a week), I’ll affix a sticker to that day/week (a small one for the daily goals, a larger one for the weekly).
(Yes, this is EXACTLY how we motivated Raven in her potty training—smaller butterfly stickers for every time she pees in the potty, and the large stickers of puppies for her poops. While I should possibly be embarrassed about the fact that I’m motivated by the same stickers as my two-year-old, I AM NOT ASHAMED. I might even follow through on the second reward we gave Raven and give myself 2 chocolate chips for sitting down to write (even if nothing happens), 5 chocolate chips for writing anything at all, and 10 chocolate chips for hitting my target.)
So far, it seems to be working (for both me AND Raven).
How do you motivate yourself to work on long-procrastinated goals?
***Note: I got my calendar at Wal-mart for something like $2.38. There are similar calendars on Amazon, but they’re more expensive.