We are all familiar with setting New Year’s resolutions, or resetting the same goals we set last year and didn’t achieve. So what other positive things can we do to motivate ourselves to move forward?
Switch to a positive perspective
Never underestimate the power of positive thought. Someone once said that if you think your glass is always half full, then pour it into a smaller glass and quit whining. What they mean is: stop complaining; learn to see things from a new, more positive perspective. Don’t focus on what you haven’t achieved, but celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Don’t bemoan what you can’t do, but feel proud of what you have learned and mastered already. Self-confidence is half the battle.
Document progress and small successes
Pat yourself on the back often. My good friend, Ingrid Ruthig, introduced me to the habit of keeping a document file on my computer desktop called “Things I’ve Done in 201_” (add your own year). In it, I record every small accomplishment as it happens.
I include a record of submissions that I send out —whether they come to fruition or not— because even the act of submitting is a positive and motivating step for any writer. I list writing events I attend. I list open mic opportunities, readings, interviews or panels I participate in. I paste copy from encouraging emails about my work. I record the completion or start of writing projects, or even segments within writing projects— “finished Chapter 3!”. I record workshops attended or given, and retreats and writer’s breakfasts. I fill in the dots on the calendar for every B.I.C session I complete.
As the list grows I get a satisfying sense of what I’m doing to further my writing journey or project—or a self-kick-in-the-pants if there haven’t been any recent entries.
At the end of the year I have a real record of accomplishments and areas that need focus. I also have a decent record to refer to when completing my tax returns or updating my writing resume— but that’s another blog.
Have elastic expectations
Seeing where you were a year ago and where you are today can be revealing. Priorities and goals can change over the course of the year. Projects can fizzle or get sidelined by new projects (and life) unimagined at the start of the year, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Just because something on your goal list doesn’t get completed doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Reflect on what you’ve learned. Adjust and move on. Go with the flow.
If you like to set goals, perhaps plan to start with short-term (monthly, quarterly) goals. Make some targets easy to complete to keep you motivated. Display them somewhere to nudge yourself and stay on track.
Also balance that with longer-term (2-year, 5-year, lifetime) goals where you reach for the stars so you have something to aspire to and something for your subconscious to envision. They say that the first step to actualization is visualization.
Strive for balance
Achieving writing goals is all very well, but if they are achieved at the expense of your health or your family relationships and other important aspects of life, then perhaps you need to reconsider your life balance. As Ruth said in her blog, make time to not write. Take time to live. Take time to indulge in growth through retreats, conferences, workshops or just hanging out with writerly friends. Take time to notice. Take time to read. Take time to exercise. Take time to love.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Look for the good in everything. Enjoy the writing journey you’ve chosen for yourself. Enjoy life. Be positive and you’ll get there.
Here’s to your positive and successful 2017.