As we say goodbye to the last mile marker of summer, there is a lot to look forward to as things start to cool down an the world fills with pie and pumpkin flavored everything. I’ve found that without the start of a school year, it’s important for me to set goals, or even New Years Eve-esque resolutions for September. I no longer get to buy new pencil cases or extra long dorm sheets, but instead, things just kind of keep trucking along the way they were. Except summer Fridays go away. Grand. So the impetus to start fresh at the beginning academic year is still very present, and I think it’s important to follow your natural urge to get moving again.
At the beginning of the summer, I loosely set a goal to “get published by the end of the summer.” I wasn’t really sure what that meant at the time, so it was definitely at risk of never happening. After reading the book Creative Nonfiction, and thus finally finding a name to my favorite genre of writing, I zeroed in on where to submit my writing. And then during a particularly confident week in July, I just started Googling to my heart’s content and submitting my blog posts to any site that lined up with my writing vibe. The whole experience went so much farther than I ever expected, not only reaching my goal, but finally providing some insight into what I’d like to do with my writing in the next year.
One step becomes another
Six years ago marks the anniversary of packing up and leaving to hike in Spain, a crazy venture I also did not expect to shift the path of my life. Though I could go on and on about the things I learned on this trip, one of the biggest points that sticks with me is you will be amazed at what you are capable of. And I don’t mean this in a crochet-it-on-a-pillow kind of way. Seriously, think about all the Tough Mudder and Spartan Race trends- people are finally being reminded that they are capable of doing more than sitting in chairs and following instructions. So whether it’s physical or intellectual, starting off on a new project with a solid tangible goal very often comes along with a heck of a lot more. Several years ago, I took a career workshop through the SAG Foundation a few things that stuck with me over the years:
- Choose one or two measurable goals within a practical time period. For example- if you are working on building your website, by the end of the month set the goal to contact 5 people for advice, and create a layout for at least 2 people to look at. There are numbers to the tasks, and therefore you can clearly mark if they’ve been completed. If you just say, “I would love to be paid for my writing by the end of the month,” you are choosing something out of your control. Yes you can submit to a certain amount of places, but the success is not up to you. So don’t do that.
- Create a schedule. All you need are tiny steps. If there is one small thing you can do a day, or say 5 a week (in case things get super busy) then the project doesn’t pile up and stare at you like a research paper you left until the night before it’s due.
- Find an accountability buddy. I found one! My lovely friend Kathleen and I are going to join up for coffee and keep each other on track! Finding someone to check in with you will keep you from falling into the pit of “Maybe this was a lousy idea.” It wasn’t a bad idea, keep doing it.
- Reward Yourself! If you reach your goal, take yourself out for ice cream! Or I dunno, but those pants you’ve been talking yourself out of buying. You deserve it! Also, it sets the idea up in your mind that following through is a gift to yourself.
- And my own addition: Write it down! It’s very easy to forget why you wanted to focus on this one particular goal in the first place, especially when you start to talk yourself out of it. At the start of the month, when you’re feeling particularly jazzed, write down an emotionally charged paragraph about why this is the most awesome thing ever. Getting back into this mindset when you’re struggling will bring back the same urge that made it happen in the first place.
I’m actually not sure what my goal for the month is quite yet, but hoping to nail that down by the end of today. Do you have any plans for September? Lemme know!!