Saturday, March 5, 2011

Keeping Goals Comfortable and Racking Up Successes

Storm in Harvest-- 1856--John LinnellI would like to be a gardener.

Time seems to get in the way of my being one, though. Maintaining the lawn and bushes seems to be all I have time for…and usually some pretty potted flowers, once spring comes. I have to have flowers near a convenient water source or else they’ll die a horrid death.

But Monday, it was time to do some major pruning of the boxwoods and hollies. The last couple of days had been in the 80s and I was starting to worry we were going to run out of time altogether.

Pruning bushes isn’t my favorite thing to do. In fact, it’s so dreaded that I want to attack the whole chore at one time—and we have a lot of bushes.

My husband and I both pruned and trimmed and dragged off branches.

“Why don’t we take a break?” he asked, about an hour into the job. “We could pick it back up tomorrow.”

“No, let’s just get it over with,” I said. And with those words I sealed our fate.

Tuesday morning, I could barely get out of the bed.

I know one thing---when it’s time to do a major pruning again (as it will be when it’s time for the gardenias and azaleas and whatever else we’ve got out there), I’ll probably be putting it off. This is because the work I did on Monday will live on in my memory, even though my muscles are finally back to normal again. I’m going to associate pruning with something I don’t want to do.

It’s easy to get burned out, even on things we like to do…like writing.

It’s also easy to procrastinate something when we’ve set ourselves up for either failure or a serious challenge.

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating—you can write a book in 15 minutes a day. Or, if you’d rather set a page goal, you can write a book by penning a page a day. I’ve done it when I had a baby in the house and only a few minutes during Teletubbies.

And those 15 minutes were an escape for me…not a chore. It’s all in our perception of the time. So I looked forward to it, never dreaded it, and actually wrote each day.

The nice thing about setting a goal that we can easily handle, is that we rack up successes each day. It’s those small successes, little wins, that can help keep us motivated.

How reachable are your goals? Do you ever tweak them to make them more attainable?