Seth Godin did a post a while back on goals. It speaks to the sweet spot between effort and aim. Because it’s brief and encapsulates my philosophy, I’ll quote it in its entirety.
Low expectations are often a self-fulfilling prophecy. We insulate ourselves from failure, don’t try as hard, brace for the worst and often get it.
High expectations, on the other hand, will inevitably lead to disappointment. Keep raising what you expect and sooner or later (probably sooner) it’s not going to happen. And we know that a good outcome that’s less than the great one we hoped for actually feels like failure.
Perhaps it’s worth considering no expectations. Intense effort followed by an acceptance of what you get in return. It doesn’t make good TV, but it’s a discipline that can turn you into a professional.
If I were to focus on my fiction word count this year — and trust me, there are weeks where this can feel like the only measure that matters to me — I’ve failed dismally. But because I’m trying to follow my nose and allow myself time to discover my purpose and voice, it’s been a fun year, peeps. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned. I’m also a little boggled at what I did accomplish without a left-brained plan. Here are a few of the things I tracked:
- 21 Writer Unboxed posts
- 79 Tartitude posts
- My first guest post on Christi Craig’s blog
- Hosted my first guest blogger, Victoria Mixon
- Hosted the Mary Stewart challenge with Sophie Masson stepping in as judge
- Conducted 9 author interviews
- Beta read for 6 writers (that I recall)
- Joined a critique group and was an active participant
- Bid on and sent a critique from a NY publisher (results awaited)
- Completed 119 books, including a fair number of craft books
- Discarded 29 partially-read books. (As an interesting anecdote, 19 of these were self-published and free.)
- Attended 3 writing conferences, one of which was in New York and led to a Writer Unboxed breakfast, where I became a tongue-tied stammerer, but totally survived.
- Took two online courses — one on writing, the other on time-management
My Quit List:
It’s as important to know what to leave as to know what to take on, both for tending the spirit and managing a daytimer. Without allowing ourselves the option to quit, it’s impossible to have an experimental or playful mindset. As I look at the above list, so many of my accomplishments began as a “wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if.”
- Quit watching my stats, including leaving Klout altogether. I’m very proud of this. I didn’t simply adopt this as a philosophical position, but I let go of the cycle of exhilaration and angst that comes with an other-orientation.
- Decreased my blogging frequency to once weekly or when I have something to say.
- Decreased my online time, partly through willpower, partly through employing Freedom and a timer.
- Left a moderatorship because it wasn’t a good fit for my time and personality.
- Ran weekly writing sprints
- Kept a daily gratitude list
- Made a list of items that nag at me and have been systematically working on them. (eg. Saw a financial advisor and have been implementing changes as advised.)
Yes, all in all, 2011 was a good year for me, peeps, and I have my momentum going in some personal projects that are important to me. Can’t wait to see what opportunities 2012 brings and what I can create with an attitude of hopeful expectation and a willingness to work.
How about you? Have you tracked your progress, and if so, how do you feel about your year?