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I started this year's NaNoWriMo with goal setting. This generally helps me to be successful at my goals. However—and I knew this going in—even with goal setting, it takes a great deal of commitment to obtain any goal. So, I'm sure you're already wondering if I am setting up an excuse. The answer is both yes and no. I am setting up an explanation of where I currently am in my ever-evasive quest to complete NaNoWriMo. However, I am also providing you the opportunity to learn through my personal journey.
I began day one of NaNoWriMo with a less-than-stellar attitude. Although I did write that day, I didn't meet my word goal for that day. "Why?" you may ask. I shared my goal with someone close to me that had a less than positive response. Yep, me, a trained counselor, let a friend throw a cold blanket over my plan to reach a goal that I have held for several years now.
Why do I tell you this? Well, there are two basic reasons. I learn through putting words to paper, which means that I am doing this partly for me. However, I am also bothering to share this with you because I find that, while everyone shares their stories of success, few people share their struggles. I have learned that I don't really gain much from other people's successes. This is often because I feel jealous. It is also due to a concept called...
Relative deprivation is a phenomena seen in sociology and psychology. It is basically the concept that people use others to determine their level of well-being. When I compare myself to successful writers, I (like most people) actually come away feeling worse about myself as a writer. This then acts as a dampener to my continuing to reach for my goal to complete a novel of my own.
That being said, I can now choose to either give up on my goal to compete a novel this Nanowrimo season, or I can choose to regroup and start back up with my writing without worrying about the missing words. Or, I can choose to regroup and catch up to the word count I had established for myself.
Personally, I 'm not willing to give up on the dream completely. However, I also know that I am not likely to the one of those people to pour out an extra 5000 words in one day. I suppose I could recalculate the missed words and establish a new daily writing goal. Indeed, I expect that this is what I will ultimately do. The other option I am toying with is to cut myself a break and just extend my writing goal for an extra week beyond November.
The point I am making is that, when we disappoint ourselves, we can choose how to deal with our failure to meet our goals. Life, just like NaNoWriMo, isn't an all or nothing proposition. I am in control of my writing. You are in control of your writing.
If you find yourself, like me, with a less than perfect beginning to NaNoWriMo, I would suggest that you think about what kept you from reaching your goals. If, like me, it was a motivational issue, I would suggest that you think about if this is a goal you really want to achieve. If it is, then think about all the choices you have in making this goal a reality.
You may need to recalculate your numbers, give yourself more time, find a better way to reward and motivate yourself, or find more support in your social network. However, whatever you do, remember that this goal is for you. If you choose not to complete your own goal, I would suggest that you ask yourself why you set this goal in the first place. Are you frequently setting goals that you lose interest in and, therefore, fail to complete? Is this a pattern in your life? If so, I would suggest that you reconsider how you choose your goals.
We often fail at goals if they are things we feel we should do, rather than things we really want to do. We often fail at goals we don't believe we can complete. If this is the case, you may want to work on your self-esteem. I find that this is often my issue. When I begin writing, I stir up feelings of inadequacy.
So, what will I do? I will work on my self-esteem, stop sharing my goal with people who aren't totally supportive and review my daily writing goals. I will also do more to structure my day to support more likely success. Finally, I will celebrate my successes daily. This provides me with more opportunities to reinforce my personal success. Oh, and, I will check in again next week with how it is going (personal accountability).