Attainable Goals

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So it’s obviously that time of year again where people look towards starting the new year on the right footing. Obviously, it’s both arbitrary and understandable to craft resolutions with the hope of self-improvement. You could do it at any time, but we’re so culturally used to the idea of, “New year, new me,” that it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement and tradition and make one for yourself.

Of course, we all know that, no matter our good intentions, we’re still the same person we were on either side of midnight, and becoming someone new is more difficult than buying a new calendar. The easiest way to change is to do it a little bit at a time, slow enough that you never notice your face in the mirror changing. And the easiest way to manage that is to make small, discrete goals.

I won’t lie, other than blog posts and Hangouts messages, I wrote next to nothing for myself in 2018. I can blame it on depression or anxiety or the world swiftly becoming more and more of a raging garbage fire, but other creative people (including many that I’m friends with) managed, so at least part of it comes down to my own lack of discipline. So this year, I’m going to work between two different goals, based on my own schedule (and shamelessly stolen from people I’ve forgotten on Twitter): a modest word goal of 200 words per day, or a minimum of 30 minutes writing time per day.

Neither are particularly difficult, by design. I’m not so busy that I can’t spend 30 minutes during the evening tapping away at my keyboard, and despite my own lack of focus, 200 words isn’t really much of anything to brag about. Hell, it would take an effort like NaNoWriMo from one month to most of a year. What they’re designed to do, however, is to get me sat down and focusing on whatever work in project I add to that night. They’re small enough that, on days that I have other plans, or if I’m too tired to do anything else, I can meet the bare minimum and move on to something else. The goal should be small, digestible, non-intimidating, because the goal is to take the anxiety and doubt out of writing. If I meet the word goal quickly, or at the end of the timer I’ve hit my stride, nothing’s stopping me from writing more. They’re not end points, they’re starting points.

The benefit to this thinking is how easy it is to tweak depending on my focus. If 200 words begins to be too easy (or, though I dread to think it could be, too hard) for long enough, bumping it up a bit at a time is no trouble. Just like adding more weight to a workout regimen, until my writing muscles are built enough that it doesn’t feel like work anymore. Building discipline will take time, but that’s my goal.

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CJ Miles IV

CJ Miles IV is a member of Nevermore Edits and the Oklahoma Writer's Federation, Inc. He lives in Tulsa, OK, spreading the unspeakable word of the Old Ones. He does not write or blog nearly enough, but, much like spotting a blurry sasquatch, you can occasionally find him on his website or Twitter.