Who doesn’t struggle with their workload? Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t matter what you identify as—homeowners, parents, business person, teacher, writer, entrepreneur. You all have more and more and more things on your to-do lists. Today, I’m going to focus on writers, but the information here applies to you. It applies to every single person who feels they are not doing enough. There is a way to feel good about what you do when you can’t get it all done.
The pressure is enormous. You must do this or that to succeed. Titles fill your screens with 25–50–100 ideas on how to improve your business. Don’t forget the ones that give 10-20-80 Mistakes authors make. Are you never supposed to fail? Never supposed to sleep or eat? That is is the recipe for burn out. So what is the real recipe for success?
There’s a lot of information about how to be successful. The business world in particular overflows with advice. Advice on how to do great things and how to motivate your employees. One of the big pieces of advice is to celebrate small wins to motivate employees. Most writers are not a big business. Not even close. But this business model works for everyone. It works for writers, small business owners, and household engineers (moms and dads) well.
The Big Stuff
Humans tend to focus on the end goal. For writers, this means the book. The whole enchilada. 50,000-90,000-150,000 coherent words that turn readers into fans. And, let’s say, you want to get that done in thirty days. Science says that’s too much. Goals that stretch one’s abilities too far may result in failures or cheating. Failures in quality like an unsatisfying or bad book or cheating like plagiarism or author farms. Read more here.
With only the big goal in mind, you measure your success with the larger scale of the big goal. Would you weigh a pound of meat on a scale meant to measure tons of cargo? Of course not. The pound of meat wouldn’t make the needle budge. But that’s what you’re doing when you use a final product as your measuring tool.
Not only that, you berate yourselves for not doing enough. You compare what you’ve done to how far you are from your goal.
When you make a goal to lose 10 pounds in 10 days and you lose one pound the first day and four ounces the next three days. You become discouraged. You’ve failed. You may soften the blow of your “failure” with a super-sized chocolate bar.
Or say you lose one pound the first day and the next day you go out to dinner. You’re hungry. You can’t resist the buffalo wings and the prime rib dinner and the death by chocolate for dessert (*fingers crossed* I have never done such a thing.) You gain three pounds and decide you’re never going to lose weight so why try.
When you negate the small steps or call them failures, you train your brain to see small steps as failures. This is why you never reach your goal.
When we make a small mistake, we almost always feel bad about it. But when we accomplish a small goal, we almost never feel good about it.Selfication
So how do you break this cycle?
Notice the Small Steps
When you set a big, important goal, write it down. Writing down specific, concrete, measurable goals will increase your chance by 1.2-1.4%. Read more about the neuroscience here.
When the awareness of what is achievable brushes your life, your journey has begun.Lorri Myers
But also list the steps it will take to make it to that goal. If you want to write a 90,000-word novel in nine weeks. Your goal would be to write 10,000 words each week or 1667 words per day.
But that’s not enough. Find a way to track what you do on a daily basis. Keep a spreadsheet of your daily word counts, a daily diary, or a simple, handwritten list.
Train for Success
Again, that’s not quite enough. You also need to celebrate your small successes. Note, this doesn’t mean go get an ice cream sundae when you’ve lost a quarter of a pound. Instead, what this means is to congratulate yourself for every step you take.
Don’t try to rush progress. Remember — a step forward, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Keep believing.Kara Goucher
What if you have a goal of 1667 words per day and you don’t make it? There are days where there’s a doctor’s appointment, a grandchild to babysit, and a friend in need. You only got 167 words written? Celebrate your win. With all that going on in your life, you got 167 words written. Yay, you!
“When you set your mind to achieve something, you must allow yourself the opportunity to get it done.”Tasha Hoggatt
By celebrating each step, no matter how small, you are giving your brain a shot of dopamine. Your brain loves dopamine. See this article for more information.
Guess what happens when every small step gives your brain a shot of dopamine. You get more and more done. Your brain is happier. You are happier. And you reach your goal. You celebrate your goal, but your brain knows you’ll celebrate the small stuff, too. So next time you set a goal and the steps it will take to get there…dopamine. This is how to feel good about what you do.
Breaking a big goal into baby steps is a must for me. And yes, definitely celebrate each small win!
Thanks, Jennette. Small wins aren’t so small, are they?