A big part of improving comes from setting ambitious yet achievable goals. We create long-term projects by coming up with a game plan and implementing a structure for achieving goals. Many of my own challenges come not from a lack of ambition, but from a lack of follow through. I can see what I want to accomplish, but haven’t always had a framework that helps me achieve them. I’m exceedingly good at starting, but not so much on the finishing.
When setting goals, there’s always this temptation to create a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), while there is value in these, those of us who struggle to finish won’t get far if we don’t set some SOBG (Sprawling and Often Boring Goals) as well. While my overarching goals here on this blog are to create habits and skills that help be more consistent at my career and as a person; I tend to use this site as a training ground. It’s a place where I can experiment and grow while helping a reader or two along the way by sharing what I learn.
While I’ve been blogging since late 2008, it wasn’t until April of last year that I decided to get serious about my efforts. That lead to the first SOBG I set for myself and for this site. Starting May 2, 2011, I challenged myself to blog five days a week for a year. I wanted to see if I could actually do it, I wanted to see what I could learn from it and I wanted to see what results could be achieved through it. Over 260 posts later, I’ve answered the first question. Now I want to share five of the most important lessons I learned along the way
Difficult Challenges Require Scaffolding – Considering my blogging was infrequent at best, I took the month of April to really think through my workflow and my tools. There was a temptation to jump in and get going, to start then and there, but this tactic had always hindered me in the past. Taking the upfront time to create a framework that would not only help me through the excitement, but through times of boredom proved essential. The process evolved along the way, but that upfront time paid off big time, especially when the going got rough. It’s only through aligning specific goals and targets with a process that we can truly achieve our more ambitious goals.
Ambition Is Nothing Without Support – It doesn’t matter if you are working alone on a project or as a group, you need people who help keep you on track. You need someone who will kick your ass when needed and help you along the way. I was fortunate to have this in my wife. Not only did she help correct my chimp grammar on all of the posts (impressive when you consider her lack of interest in all of my “geeky crap” and my god awful grammar), she was a task master when I fell behind. I easily would have abandoned the project without her and everything would have been far less readable without her touch.
Your Output Is Only As Good As Your Input – The more you want to make, the more you need to consider. While some will find this in their own contemplation or even in something as simple as boredom, I need to let my ideas collide with the thoughts of others. So much of the past year was finding the people who challenge and inspire me. It was a year of getting to know several of the people who continue to help shape and inspire the thoughts in my head and the words on this site. The beauty of the internet, especially Twitter, is that you can move past admiring the work of others and actually get to know some amazing people.
Big Goals Are Possible With Busy Schedules – We tell ourselves we’re busy, and we often are. We use it as an excuse not to attempt the ambitious, but big things are possible. I’m not saying you can overload your schedule; you have to choose and sacrifice, but there’s a lot more time in the day than we allow ourselves to believe. The problem, more often than not, is that we waste it. We watch bad TV (or even good TV), we go down rabbit holes on our browser (even though that isn’t always a bad thing). Whatever it is you’re looking to accomplish, there’s likely a way. You just have to be honest with yourself and ruthless in what you eliminate to achieve it.
Prepare To Learn About Yourself – We all start writing for different reasons. For some it’s a process of self-discovery (no matter how cheesy that sounds). For others, it’s an attempt to chance one’s circumstances or livelihood. Regardless of the intent, it’s impossible to sit with your own words day after day and not learn more about yourself. Others will often benefit from your words, but sadly, no one will learn as much from the endeavor as the man or woman behind the keys. I know myself so much better than when I first started. I have so much more faith in my words and in myself.
It was a year spent turning things on that won’t turn off, dealing with crap I’ve avoided and talking with an amazing range of people, both on and off of the site. I can’t adequately thank those of you who were kind, interested or foolish enough to follow along. I’ll be sure to continue to share my plans for the site as and if they evolve. In the meantime, it’s business as usual.