Tossing My Goals Out the Window and Doing One Thing Instead
“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”
– William Faulkner
Last month, I started a blog.
It’s my perfect combination of what I am good at (marketing and social media) with what I obsess about (reading, writing and self improvement). Some call it passion, purpose, a calling. I like to call it my “thing”.
I started my thing and as my first order of business – according to the standard protocol of brand new ventures – I wrote out some goals. I made them specific (5000 email subscribers) and time oriented (by October). I hung them up on my wall. I broke them down into detailed actionable steps and made mini milestones. I had a plan.
But what happened next surprised me. I felt sad. Dejected almost. Here, on day one, with nothing more than an idea and some bullet points, my dream seemed so distant. I started thinking about all the times I had set goals – just like this. Spent half a day planning, just like this. For goals that I never reached. How depressing. Was this going to be another losing endeavor?
No, this was not a good start. This did not look like a solid foundation for success.
What is success anyway? What am I chasing? Is it email subscribers? Traffic? Twitter followers? Interviews? Press mentions? A book deal? They all sound lovely and exciting, but for me, there’s no one thing that represents the end point where I can sit back, admire my work and say to myself “I have arrived.” Why can’t I just forget the goals and enjoy the journey? Why does it have to be about defining where I want to go? This is, after all, the thing that makes me happy and fulfilled, regardless of reward and recognition.
Perhaps, then, the better question is: “What do I need to do to move in that general direction as quickly as possible?”
Here, the answer is simple: I need to build an audience for my blog. And the best way to build an audience (amid the clutter of the many hundreds of wellness blogs out there) is to create remarkable content and promote the heck out of it. Write and promote. Better than everyone else. And to do that well – I must sit down every day to practice writing and promoting. It’s nothing more than a commitment to consistency.
This commitment to consistency is about waking up and doing the same, scheduled tasks, over and over. It’s about taking action (actions that are core to growth) with focus and discipline, where I control my time, and not the other way around. They are my “musts” – my non-negotiables. There are no alternatives, there are no outs. I will not “try to write an article every day”. I will write an article every day. I must write 1000 words every day. It will become a habit. I’m not leaving my work in the hands of willpower. Because when when bad days or weeks pay me a visit, with no structure to fall back on, I’ll find a reason to not show up.
That’s why, to get to quality, you have to produce quantity and you have to do it with consistency.
Today, my writing is decent, but three months from now, I’ll be 90,000 words better at putting sentences together. I might even have a few strokes of genius that others will find valuable and share-worthy. I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work, and that constant feedback loop will help me tweak, experiment and improve. And that is how my blog will grow.
I don’t think that goals are a bad thing. There are many who are excellent when working towards a specific result. And while goal setting is not for me (for now), I hope to one day be able to manifest other dreams – the specific ones – the time bound ones that fill my head. After all, I am a dreamer and a fantasizer with lots of grand plans for an incredible future.
And you? Are you a goal setter or a process maker? Or even better – both?
Photo by Andreas Øverland