Some years ago, during a writing panel at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, Cherry Adair dropped a shiny bit of counter-intuitive wisdom: if you aren’t hitting your goals, make your goals smaller.
At first, I resisted. Nothing against Cherry Adair or good advice. I resist nearly everything right off. Change is icky. And, I’ve had a lifetime’s indoctrination into capitalism. Only productivity has value. Work! Grind! Hustle! Side Hustle! Grind! Gig Economies Don’t Have 8-Hour Shifts.
And, idk, what fun is there in hurdling the low bar? Isn’t that the joy in goals, the having did more than you’ve done before?
Luckily, for this blog post, I’ve come around lately. (Not only do I excel at eventually admitting I was wrong, but I also excel at dwelling on advice I don’t find immediately useful. Sort of an analog version of Someone’s Wrong on the Internet.) I’ve been mulling through the maybe-just-maybe idea that a call for small goals isn’t a command to downscale. It’s a gentle nudge towards specificity.
Not in a SMART goals way. Rather a means to think of my goals in a way that’s inspiring rather than daunting. When I changed a career goal from Write Great Stories to Write Stories I Am Crazy Proud Of I switched my perception of the work ahead from daunting to inspiring. I got a little more specific about defining myself as a writer. My grasp of great writing sways from good to oops!, but my grasp of what makes me crazy proud in my own writing is pretty steadfast.
Steadfast enough to build upon. To improve upon. To rest and re-group upon after mistakes. Specific too, in an oddly personal way. It’s easy to ask if I’m crazy proud of a piece of my writing, and it’s easy to answer yes or no. Or even, yes but… or no, but… Which gives me better direction for going forward than aiming for a subjective, ever-changing greatness.
Happy 2018. May all your stories be stories you are crazy proud of.