This is the time of year where most people sit down and reflect on where they are, where they've been and hopefully where they're planning to go in the upcoming year. To be honest, I'm typically not that type of person. To me, the closing of a calendar year and the beginning a new year don't give me those feelings of "New Year, New Me". I've always been of the thought that I don't need a new year to give me the feeling that I somehow now have permission to change and do better things. I always strive to continuously get better and better with each passing day. Of course, that doesn't occur every day, but my philosophy is to end each day being a little better at something in my life.
Today, I spent a good chunk of my day reading people's messages on social media and blog posts about things they've accomplished in 2014. Even though this past year was full of very good changes for me and I did certainly have many days where I got better at something, I can't shake the feeling that I don't know if this was a good year or not. Maybe that's the engineering side of me, having to quantify and measure just about everything I do. But I honestly don't know if I moved in the right direction. For this reason, I decided to change it up this New Year's Eve and spend some time writing down what I want to do next year.
I have done this long ago, but I found that I was always failing. I realize now that the reason was simple: I didn't make any actionable steps towards my goals! My goals were super-vague: "Eat less garbage", "Learn something new", "Exercise more". Doing this just sets you up for failure because those goals are so overwhelming by themselves that you don't even know where to start, causing you to fail quickly or not even attempt it at all. This time around, I was very specific with what I want to accomplish this year, and what I need to do on a daily or weekly basis. Small steps accumulate a lot quicker than you think.
I wanted to share these goals for myself publicly, since I feel it makes me more accountable. I was going to make one huge blog post, but as the first goal I'll write about here shows, I'll keep this one relatively simple and split these into smaller posts through the next couple of days.
Goal #1 - Write more blog posts
I really love writing, whether it's on my blog or keeping a daily personal journal. It clears my mind and allows my creativity soar. But despite my enjoyment I get out of writing, I'm really bad at writing blog posts. Last year, I wrote only 6 blog posts. Not good. Mentally, I had wanted to write at least once a month, or at the very least end up with 10 blog posts by the end of the year. I wasn't even close to that number, which is a bit disappointing.
So, instead of thinking about what I wanted to do, I wanted to write down a goal that I felt I could easily accomplish, and came up with a solid goal in place. My goal is to write at least one blog post every three weeks, with a minimum of 20 blog posts by the end of the year. It's not a huge goal, since I know plenty of people who write blog posts every couple of days without fail. But having a mini-habit like this makes it attainable, and it will help me reap the benefits of writing that I enjoy the most.
The next question was, how am I going to accomplish this goal? Well, first, I had to figure out why I didn't write as much. I first thought it was because I thought it was too time-consuming, but that's really no excuse for doing something I enjoy. To avoid this, I'll make two small changes to how I typically write blog posts. First, I'll write shorter posts. This post is a bit long, but believe me, it could have been at least 3 times longer, so this is a good start. Second, I'll try to get rid of the belief that I need to write down a full blog post in one sitting. For some reason I have the bad habit of not wanting to leave things incomplete, thinking that if I don't finish writing I never will. I have to remember that this software has a 'Save Draft' feature.
But I dug deeper than that, and I believe I found the real culprit: I need to stop being so damn afraid about putting my writing out there.
I can't count the times I've wanted to write something, only to have that nagging voice in my head saying "No one wants to read what you write about" or "You have no right to talk about that subject, you're not an expert". But as Amelia Earhart said, fears are paper tigers. I need to get over this unfounded fear, and writing more (and sharing it publicly) will certainly help me with this cause.
It's probably the main thing I want to get out of writing more, because I'm sure this will extend into many other areas of my life. Some of the best habits you can create are the ones that create a positive ripple effect throughout your entire being. I'm certain that overcoming my fear of failure will unleash even more out of me. We'll see how that battle goes.
Tomorrow, I'll share Goal #2: Grow my freelancing business. Stop by and read it!
Update: I published that blog post! Read about my next goal: Grow my freelancing business
Credit to Zen Pencils for the Amelia Earhart quote in comic form. If you like this comic, go get the Zen Pencils book. I have this book in my living room and skim it every single day. It's that awesome.