by Megan Haskell
I’m a Type A personality.
A temperament characterized by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality and unrealistic sense of urgency. ~ www.businessdictionary.com
Surprised? Yeah, me neither.
I mean, okay, I don’t consider myself particularly aggressive, nor do I focus on quantity over quality (how does that work with perfectionism?), but ambitious, competitive, impatient, and a need for control? Pretty well describes me. But I’m nice, too. Promise.
Anyway, I’ve already set my goals this year, one of which is to finish writing and publish the next book in my fantasy series by the end of June. I’m about halfway done with the first draft, so (for me) June is a stretch. It’s achievable, but tough. Just the kind of goal I like to set for myself.
I was going to write a post about how I set my goals, the methods and systems I use to decide what I want to achieve in the next week, month, six months, year, five years… But life happened.
Here’s the thing, when I set goals, I sometimes (often) don’t allow enough flexibility. Everything is dependent on something else, and when one card falls, it knocks the whole house down. At least, that’s how it feels.
This past weekend was supposed to be set aside as writing time. I was planning to get away for a night and spend all day Saturday and Sunday writing. I expected to get at least five thousand words written, write this blog post, finish planning/scheduling the OC Writers Challenge, and tackle a few other business things. I was going to catch up.
What I caught, was the stomach flu.
I stayed home and slept most of the day Saturday, and vegged on the couch on Sunday.
Nothing got done.
Zero words were written.
Second confession (and this one is harder to admit): I felt like a disappointment. To myself, to my readers…I had not accomplished my weekend goals, and I felt like a failure.
For getting sick.
Who does that? I mean, who gets mad at themselves for getting sick?
Mentally, this set me even further back. I didn’t want to work on my book or my business. I started down the path of negativity, thinking about how I was going to need to adjust all my timelines, that I wasn’t going to finish on time, that my readers were going to forget about me, so what’s the point?
Then two things happened:
I had a great conversation with Greta, and admitted my feelings of failure. She slapped me silly (over the phone). As she said, “who do you think you are, superwoman?”
Yes. Maybe. Sometimes.
My life is like a clock. When everything is working right, it ticks right along and everything gets done. My children are fed and in bed on time, the house is (reasonably) clean, I know what I’m supposed to do each day and by the end of the week, my goals have been achieved. There are times when I’m so productive, I even surprise myself. But then I expect everything to continue on that same path. Like I said, Type A.
But kids get sick. I get sick. The car won’t start. Things happen. Flexibility is a virtue I’m working on.
I listened to the Author Pep Talk from Bryan Cohen (video below). Toward the end of the talk, he outlines the ABCs for authors in 2017:
A – Attitude. The more positive you are, the more productive and happy you’ll be.
B – Block out your time. Put your writing and business activities on a calendar. Hold that time sacred. I’ve known this one for a long time, but I’ve gotten out of the habit.
C – Collaborate. Talk with the author community. Find other authors both within and outside of your genre and talk about what’s working and what’s not. Share the burden. Band together for marketing or writing or whatever makes sense. But find your Community.
With these three things in mind, I found my motivation again. I’ve pulled out my calendar, and with a little extra hustle, I shouldn’t have to change my goals due to one weekend of setbacks. And with the support of O.C. Writers and the wider author community, I know 2017 will be a great year.
Moral of the story?
Goals are good. Necessary even. But life happens. If you can’t be flexible, or allow time for minor hurdles and setbacks, well…self-recrimination is a muse killer.
So set goals. Make them good. But cut yourself some slack, too.
Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I’m the author of the Kindle best selling series,The Sanyare Chronicles, and Program Director of O.C. Writers. You can find me on my website at www.meganhaskell.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
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