3 min read

How to Defeat Goal Creep

I know some folks don't believe in the zodiac but my Capricorn tendencies are REAL. I have this issue where I make a plan and decide what I have to do for the day. Then, when I sit down to do those things, I think I mean, I NEED to do this but it'd be even better if I also did x, y and z. And then my motivation topples over beneath the weight of all the extra must-dos I've piled on top of my to-do list. I become so overwhelmed I don't do anything at all, much less anything that's above and beyond.

Or I feel bad about all the things I didn't do the previous day and tell myself, well now since you're in the mood to be productive you can also do all that make up stuff too. This also leads me toward doing nothing and falling even further and further behind. I just always feel so behind on everything.

With this book deadline coming up in a few weeks, I've really be stressed out. Even though I've de-prioritized basically everything else in my life. Anything that's not the book will get done when it gets done.

I decided to take a close look at things that have not worked for me in the past. I know telling myself that I have to sit at home all-day until I get my writing done – Does not work. I stubbornly don't do anything but also don't do anything I enjoy, so I'm miserable AND have nothing to show for it. So, I told myself I can do one social/goof-off thing per day regardless of how much writing I got done. And turns out, that thing is a lot more fun when I've had a good writing day (and is a lot more relaxing if I haven't) and that's more motivating than weighing myself down with guilt for those inevitable bad writing days.

Goal creep doesn't work for me either. So, I've just been setting bare minimum goals each day, which feels counterintuitive when I have such a large deadline looming. But it's been working. If I commit to touching my manuscript each day, I generally end up spending a few hours writing and revising, sometimes more, and sometimes less. Sometimes, touching it might look like reading over what I've written, seeing what's salvageable from old drafts, or tweaking just one paragraph. But it makes the project feel less intimidating when I'm inside it rooting around everyday instead of standing outside of it staring at its enormity.

The other thing that's been working really well for me is task blending. I work away in my Word doc until I get to a sticky point. Stop, and go chop some okra, and maybe another sentence will come to me. Come back, write the sentence. Think a bit more, go back to dinner prep. And I'm just back and forth between the two tasks for hours in 5 to 15 minute increments. Cooking, doing laundry, putting things way. In this way, I don't feel like I've lost any time and the mixing it up helps me shake up my brain a little. And because it's such small bursts of time, a sentence here, a paragraph there, feels appropriate, instead of really small in relation to the amount of time I've been sitting at my desk staring at my monitor.

I hope some of these are useful for you all!

Have I shared this before? I don't think. My friend Kaitlyn gifted me this past winter a usb-charged lighter. So, if you live in a house where lighters are constantly running out of fuel. This might be the solution for you. It seems a little silly at first and you have to hold it a bit longer than a regular lighter because it's basically creating this electrical current between to posts and that's how you light the wick. But it works and it's easy and I've been using it for months now without issue. There's also a little slide on the bottom so you can turn it off between uses.

I dunno where Kaitlyn got mine, so I'm just going to link to this Google shopping page and you can pick one out.

This is another thing I can't remember if I've shared before or not, but this resource for avoiding ableist phrases by Austic Hoya has been super helpful for me.

Thoughts on disability justice, neurodiversity, intersectional activism from Lydia Brown, queer, autistic, east asian activist, writer, public speaker

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