I love goals. I love having something to work toward, and the feeling of accomplishment after is even better. The problem is that I love goals so much, that I sometimes take on too many, and I can’t leave tasks unfinished. I tend to obsess over the smallest things if they aren’t done, so for me, a goal is a major commitment.
Recently, though, I gave up on a pretty big goal. Last year, I decided that I was going to do the Goodreads Reading Challenge. In 2011, I had read 26 books, and that was with school work still in the picture, so for 2012, I decided to be ambitious and try to read 50. It really wasn’t that hard. I was six books ahead by the end of January, and in July, I had even gotten to eight books ahead of my goal.
I was doing great, until I decided it was time to start working on my new novel. At the end of July, an idea came to me that I had to work on, so I slowed down on my reading. It was still ok, though, because I was ahead. I read some, but I didn’t try to finish books as quickly as I had in favor of writing time. By November, I was behind, and I started trying to read shorter books to get my count up higher. (I consider this strategy. They were still shorter novels!) I was so far behind, the only way I was going to catch up was to stop writing and spend all my time reading.
Yes, my goal was still totally attainable, but it would have required me to make a much bigger sacrifice. I could have put my novel off. I didn’t have a set deadline for it, but I decided that continuing to make progress on my novel was more important to me than reading 50 books ever would be. It took a lot for me to admit that. I love reading, and I love meeting my goals, but for me, writing was worth it.
I decided that I wasn’t going to push myself to meet my goal and kept writing. I still read a few books, but by the end of the year, I had read 34 books. I wasn’t happy about not meeting my goal, but I consoled myself with the thought that I still did better than last year.
Goals are great. They help you stay on track for accomplishments and give you something to be proud of when they are achieved, but you can’t do everything. There are going to be many points in your life where you will have to give something up for writing, and if it’s your passion, it won’t be a problem. Sometimes it will be something small, like watching your favorite television show. Other times it may be big, like skipping a trip with friends to get time to write, but if you really love something, it’s worth it. Just remember, anything worth doing will require sacrifices.
For the record, I did sign up for the 2013 Reading Challenge too, but this year, I’m ok with not finishing if I finish my novel instead!
Have you given something up for writing recently? Leave a comment.