Write at Your Edge - The Art of Setting a Motivating Goal

I've been thinking a lot about goals lately, for a lot of different reasons.

For one thing, I'm taking a look at my own goals right now, because when I quit my day job a couple of weeks ago I told myself that I had a year to build a self sustaining writing and coaching business. And now that I'm lucky enough to get to do writing and coaching every day, all day, I'm so incredibly in love with life and I want to keep doing this FOREVER. Literally. If you're hoarding some secret elixir of life somewhere, I really need to get some from you because I need about another hundred years to do all of the things I want to do.

I'm taking a class right now that asks us to create what they call a BHAG - which stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. I have (naturally) flipped this to B-HAWGs - which stands for Big, Hairy-Ass Writing Goals. They feel a bit like being mooned by a troll. Or, maybe more like this:

Yes, you can conquer this hairy beast!

Yes, you can conquer this hairy beast!

One caution before we proceed. B-HAWGS and B-HAGS need to be treated with finesse and caution. If they are too big and too hairy, they can immerse us in overwhelm, fear, avoidance, and procrastination. But if they are too tiny, then we can just lie around on the couch with a drink in one hand, muttering, "I can squash you like a bug, any old time I want."

With that understood, let me ask you a question. Do you have a creative goal? Is it well-defined and time limited? Does it give you a little buzz of adrenaline when you think about it?

Here's a hint: if your goal has got the word "someday" in it, it's not a BHAG or a B-HAWG or really even a goal - it's just a wish.

These tend to sound like this:

Someday I'll write my novel.
Someday I'll quit my day job.
Someday I'll lose weight.
Someday I'll learn how to make candles
Someday I'll call my mother. (This one is for me, because I've been forgetting for like three days now and maybe I need to actually put it in my planner.)
I've got a book in me, somewhere...

If you are a nebulous goal setter, I challenge you to set yourself a real goal. Make it one that raises your blood pressure a little bit. Give it a timeline. Write it on a calendar. Say it out loud.

BUT - be careful not to make your goal TOO hairy.

Once you have a good, real, adrenaline inducing goal, fear might kick in. I maintain that a teeny tiny little bit of fear is motivating. But too much fear drives us into overwhelm and fear paralysis. So if you're stuck or blocked and you DO have a goal, take a minute to see if that needs to be tweaked.

Is it realistic? Are you being fair to yourself? Are you making allowances for other things going on in your life?

Maybe you've got a chronic illness or you have a change in your living situation and you can't accomplish as much right now as you used to be able to, or as you might be able to do a few months from now. Consider adjusting your goal to reflect what is realistically possible for you.

HINT: This changes with health, grief, family circumstances, and the weather. It's okay to tweak a goal when the situations change. As my good friend Wes used to say: "Drive as fast as the road conditions allow, always remembering that you are part of the road conditions."

What are YOUR road conditions? If you're in a place where it's foggy or snowing or the road is washed out, then you need to rethink the timing of your destination.

There's an art to setting a good creative goal - finding the edge that motivates you without shutting you down.

Listen to the podcast version here: Creativity Quest with Kerry Schafer, part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network

If you are a writer, and you want a B-HAWG of your own, I'd love to have you join an exclusive group for writers with serious, BHAWG goals for 2019: Write At Your Edge. (If you don't have a big scary goal yet but you want one, I can totally help with that! Email me to set up a goal setting coaching session, or wait and take the goal setting class I'm going to offer in January.)

Write at Your Edge offers support from me and other writers, weekly write ins, a monthly writer group, discounts to classes I'll be offering and more. Join Before January 1 to get the Intrepid Writer discounted rate and a special journal to help you on the way.