Monday 17 July 2023

Staying On Track With Goals - The Creative Process


I did a check in on my goals a few weeks ago (piece found here) and I find that a lot of the time people will ask me how I manage to stay on track. Like how do I know what I want to achieve, and how do I go about making it so that I do achieve the things I set. I've talked about it before (found here), and I figured that I'd talk about it again, since it's something that has changed the way I work.

First a bit of backstory, I didn't spring forth into the writing world with perfect routines and goals that I've been hitting since the day I started when I was nineteen. It wasn't really until about five or so years ago that I was able to consistently hit the mark with both writing my books, and hitting my goals. Goals have always been something that I've set for myself, but they were not something that I met every week/month/year without fail. Even now you can see that there are some goals that I just don't hit, and that, my friends, is completely normal.

It's normal to get to a point where you miss a goal here and there. It's normal to set goals and not realise at the time that you just are not going to get them done, no matter how motivated you are. It's normal to struggle with them, and to think that maybe you bit off a bit more than you can chew. It's normal to get to the end of a week or a month, or a quarter, or year and find that actually you really didn't do all that well. That is completely normal, and part of the process of finding a way of working that works for you, something that is constantly evolving and changing.

I talk about it like that because a lot of the time people look at me and think that because I have a routine now that works, that it has always worked, and will always work, and that's just not true. I hit on the writing early in the morning and getting my work done then because I couldn't sleep past a certain time. My sleep pattern is all over the place, even years later when I start to wake up earlier and earlier. It does mean that I have to head to bed early too, not because I want to miss out on the things that you get to do staying up later, but because my body is beyond tired and there's little to be done about it.

But I digress, my point is that simply, your routine, your goals, and all of that will change, and they will keep changing. There's nothing static about life, things come and go, situations move and change, it's normal to find yourself working in a way that's worked for months, years even, and then have to pivot to get back into a different kind of routine that works for you. That's just life, and beating yourself up for it, is not helping you, if anything it's stopping you from adapting to a new way of working.

So with that in mind, what are the steps I take to keep on track with my goals? Glad you asked because I'm gonna tell you!


Now when it comes to setting goals for the first time, I know that you might go too high, or aim too low, because you don't yet really have any idea of what you can reasonably manage in a certain time span. This is, again, normal. When I first started setting my to-do list, which was the start of my goals, I went for things that I thought I should be able to manage, and I did that for months until I had an idea of what I was actually capable of. To begin with I aimed way too high, and I kept getting discouraged when it come to the end of the time period and found that the majority of things weren't crossed off my list.

I didn't adjust when it came to that first month, not just because I still thought if I pushed myself I could manage, but because I didn't know yet what a regular month for me would look like. I didn't know because I didn't have anywhere near enough data for that. It took me six months or so before I could see that no, I was not capable of this goal, but I could manage more than this other goal. It was a lot of adjusting and making sure I knew what I could realistically manage, and then I was able to be more accurate when it came to goals, which meant I was crossing more things off, and getting that nice boost to my mood.

When I first started doing yearly goals on my Authortube channel, I didn't really check in until the end of the year. A lot of people will say that yearly goals are too long a period, and they can be right for the majority of the small stuff, but not, I feel, for the really big stuff that will take too long to be done in a month, and a quarter and can't really be broken down too much. Now that I know that I do better with a small number of long term goals, I make sure that around the six month mark, I pull them up, and see what I can cross off, and what I'm still working towards.

You can do it on a smaller scale as well. You can take quarterly goals, or monthly goals, and make sure that mid-way through the period, you're checking in. It allows you to see where you need to focus more, and it also allows you to adjust for things that maybe at the start of the period you thought you could manage, but actually just aren't going to happen, because like I said above, things happen, schedules change, and that's completely normal. I feel like the check in period in a really useful tool when it comes to learning what you're capable of, and also readjusting your focus.

This is what a lot of people will refer to as their 'why', and it's true. I have some goals on my list, like having a certain number of days off each month, for a reason. I don't want to get burnt out. I don't want to push myself too hard, and I know that if I don't have it on the list, I will find myself putting it off. So you want to make sure that every single goal has a why, has a reason for it being there. Like when I was at uni, I would set myself a certain number of units for the week, why? Because I needed to do that to stay on track with assignments and the like.

Now though, I'll set myself chapters, or revisions, or edits, and videos and everything else that needs to get done. The why is simply, I want to be able to be this far forward, or I have a deadline, or I need to have things ready for the upcoming month and so on. Every goal needs to have a why, and if you can't think of one, then maybe you need to be rethinking why that goal is on your list.

So there we go, those are the three big things that help me stay on track with my goals. I know that everyone works differently and that there is no one universal way of doing things, which I actually think is pretty cool, so if these don't work for you, that's okay, you just gotta find the way that does.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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