On Goals and Setting Expectations

A few weeks ago I gave a speech about goals. Not the importance of goals (I think we can all agree that goals are a good thing), nor on the act of setting them (which I think everybody should be setting goals for themselves). My speech was about accomplishing goals. Odd subject considering my track record of starting a million projects but only achieving a few.

It was about focus.

1. You can't focus on yourself. You need the emotional/material/financial support of others if you want to achieve anything remotely resembling greatness.
2. You can't focus on your competition or your obstacles. The things (or people) that stand in your way are distractions. While it's wise to know your limitations, you can't let it consume your thoughts.
3. You have to focus on the end result. The goal. You can't accomplish your goals if you ignore them.

Of course, the content of my speech was much more colorful and was illustrated by a story about kids playing in the snow and examples to support my three points. I'm sure some of my coworkers are beginning to view me as the office's own motivational speaker.

But I can't just speak those words without putting my own life behind it. I need to achieve some goals.

Recently, I'm finding more people in my life that write. Not just bloggers (which there are a few), but people who write for publication. One of my father-in-law's best friends recently published his first two books. My sister-in-law has a publisher and is waiting for her first novel to be released. Even my friend David is writing full length work (he and a cousin are competing to see who can write a better horror story by Halloween).

Here's my problem. I'm a "wow!" person (nothing to do with World of Warcraft). Jon Acuff talked about wow people on his blog once. Wow people are dreamers who have an endless supply of fantastical ideas, want to share them, but only carry out a small percentage of those ideas. His post is superb and you should read it. I have a couple of dozen story lines in my head. Chunks of plot and dialog. Characters (I promise it's not the voices in my head). There are several ideas (some of them might actually be great) but because of my WOW! personality, maybe one might actually make it onto paper.

I look at how long it took Miriam to finish her book. I did the math for my friend David and estimated he'd have to write an average of 3000 words per day in order to complete his horror story by October 31st. It is so much work. I'm not opposed to hard work. But I put in 9 hours a day at my office. And I need to spend time with my kids and my wife. Update my blogs (and facebook). Keep in touch with my parents in Cheyenne. And...

David and I talked about this about a week ago. To write like I'd really like to (and the way he'd like to write), it would be a full time job. I marvel at those pulp writers who turn out new books on a regular basis. The Dean Koontzs and Stephen Kings; the Tom Clancys and John Grishams of this world. The ammount of work that they have to put in to churn out story after story is staggering.

I don't have the capacity to sit at home and write all day. I do not have the financial flexibility to quit my real job and become a starving artist. But I do have a little time. There are fractions of peace where I can sit and write. (And for the record, my experiment this evening of trying to write at McDonalds while the kids played on the Playland didn't work very well... I got about one page worth written and spent the rest of the time trying to make sure the ogres [older kids] were not flattening my two preschoolers.)

But I do have a little time available to write. So I've set some writing goals for myself. I hesitate to publicize these goals; for those of you who are long time readers of this blog, you will know that previous goals I've posted here haven't turned out so well. (I haven't abandoned them... they're just "in process.")

It's almost as if by speaking of my goals, I am all ready dooming them to failure. But As I mentioned before, I can't focus on my limitations. And it's not about me... it's about my writing. And I need your support - in whatever way you choose to express it.

My goals:
1. At least two posts per week on this blog.
2. At least two posts per month on What's Inside
3. At least one post per month on My Life in Music
4. 1000 words or more per week for my non-blog writing

I know that in the grand scheme of things, 1000 words a week isn't much. If I'm aiming for a novel length story, it would take me four to five years to finish. But I'm hoping that I can increase my quantity as I find regular success in 1000 words.

How about you? For those of you that write, do you set writing goals? What kind of goals have you set?

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