Are you overcomplicating your goals?
Today, I want to talk about goals.
With 2015 just around the corner (wow – where did this year go!?), I’m sure you’re no doubt starting to think about how you’d like 2015 to go down.
If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now, you may know that a few months ago I set a goal to be a published author by the end of this year. I refused to go another year without achieving this dream of mine (something I’ve been wanting since I was 14).
So, with die-hard commitment, I spent the next several weeks writing a novella!
But then I was caught by surprise when I received the news that I was accepted to be a contributing author to a book being put out by HarperCollins in 2015!
As it turned out, I had manifested my goal into existence well beyond schedule!
Which is why I feel that pursuing the life of your dreams shouldn’t have to feel like such a struggle.
When I started writing out my novella, it was for the pure love of stories. I am, at the very core of my essence, a storyteller. I simply cannot exist without playing in the fictional worlds of characters and their journeys.
But at some point in my writing, I started to get caught up in the bells-and-whistles of my trade. I started to read blogs about how to market my writing so it would spread like wildfire. I started to research marketing plans, and book tours, and promotional routes, and all kinds of hoopla that left my head spinning and hurting by the end of the day.
All of a sudden, writing a book felt less like a heart song and more like a chore. It felt stressful. Like drudgery. Like an uphill battle. I got depressed and pulled the plug on my creativity for a while. If this was what writing a book entailed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in the game anymore.
After sharing my struggle with a friend (it’s always great to have someone you can air out your thoughts to!), I realized that I was overcomplicating my goal. Big time!
Sure, there are writers who will go the full nine yards when it comes to marketing their books and I’m sure it works fantastically for them…but all I wanted this particular time around was to write a beautiful story and put it out into the world for people to read and enjoy. That’s it!
And once I got honest with myself about all of that, you know what happened? The writing flowed easily once more. I was once again happy. And now I’ve finished a novella, which I’m currently proofreading/revising that I can honestly say I’m proud of and look forward to sharing with my followers.
So how can you uncomplicate your goals?
1) Know why you want what you want. There’s a really good TedTalk by a guy named Simon Sinek about the “Why” that lies behind our actions. Why we join movements, why we love certain brands, why we do the work we do.
It’s important to develop your own personal Why, too. For me, there were a few Why’s in place. I wanted to write a novella because I didn’t want to go another year without publishing something.
Why? Because life is short and uncertain and writing is my purpose and calling – and were I to leave this world with stories still in me, it would be a tragedy.
Why? Because I wouldn’t have fulfilled my purpose. See, I believe in the power and beauty of storytelling. I love exploring universal themes with fictional characters in fictional words. I believe stories connect us to each other and I love the idea of making this world a little bit smaller with stories as a bridge, and I love the idea of touching another person’s soul with my words.
Why? Because at the end of the day, love is all that matters. And storytelling is how I add love to the world and to people’s lives.
So what’s your Why? Keep asking the question until you get to the very core of it!
2) What’s causing you stress? What’s distracting you?
For me, the unnecessary bells-and-whistles were not only adding stress to my life (and lots of it) but they were also distracting me from my Why. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the purity of the calling anymore; the love and joy of it. It became about marketing tactics and overwhelming sales plans that left me emotionally exhausted.
Just to be clear: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong about marketing your art. Eventually, I’ll get to the point where I market my books to reach more readers, too. In this case, the problem was twofold: I was worrying about something I didn’t have to worry about yet (the novella wasn’t even finished!) and I was taking on an emotional burden that didn’t fit into my Why. For this particular story, a big hyped up launch just wasn’t what I was going for, which is why I felt ‘off’ and disconnected from my original goal.
3) Subtract whatever isn’t adding to you.
It’s time to correct course. Now that you know what isn’t working, take it out of your life. Sometimes, we add so much to our goals that they become unrecognizable and what’s worst, we no longer can get excited about them. This is because they no longer ring true for us. They don’t feel right.
So re-examine your goals and start to see the things that are simply causing chaos around your goal without adding anything valuable or productive to it. Only keep the things that feel light, easy, and joyful when it comes to your goals.
4) Start again
Perhaps the most important step! I was pretty close to giving up on my novella altogether when I was bummed out about ‘losing my way’, so to speak. But once I eliminated what wasn’t working, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either quit (which was the same as deciding everything would remain the same), or I could re-commit to my goal (or a new goal entirely, as the case may sometimes be) and progress forward!
My hope, friend, is that you progress forward, too. Because you were created to fulfill a gap in the world, and I want to see you fill it.