Goals – friend or foe?

I learned a lesson yesterday. It had to do with setting goals. I am, like so many other writers, one of those people who enjoy setting goals and making lists of things that I can tick off one by one in some kind of personal satisfaction frenzy. (I know I’m not alone.)

So, yesterday was Sunday. I hadn’t been writing for a couple of days and as a consequence, I felt like the most useless person in the world. I decided to give myself the goal of finishing chapter 8 that day. It seemed easy enough, I was already more than halfway through. It turned out to be the very opposite.

Am I being overly dramatic? Indeed I am. But there is a point to it. It’s the dark side of the goals, the thing called pressure, fear of disappointment and failure. This is created whenever you set a new goal you know, deep down, is too high. I’m an incredibly stubborn person, so of course I finished my goal, but it literally took from morning til nightfall – and the process was torture (it was a very tricky chapter, ok?).

I have therefore realised that by keeping my goals small and easy to achieve, I also keep my fear of failure at bay. This is all just a question of taste, really. I’m still romanticising the novel writing process, I want it to be a pleasant experience. Yes, I’m aware of my delusion, but I should like to hold on to it for as long as I can before inevitably developing a drinking problem and occasional, involuntary ticks.

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