Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guest Blogger - Dallas Woodburn: Sticking with your goals

Today, my guest is Dallas Woodburn, another accomplished person at such a young age. Dallas will stop by during the day to answer any comments and questions, so don't be shy, ask away. Dallas has provided us with an article about short-term goal setting. Thank you for joining us today, Dallas.

by Dallas Woodburn

How is 2011 going for you so far? How are those new year's goals and resolutions holding up?

To really make a new habit stick, I've heard that you need to do it consistently for three weeks, and then it much more likely to be a permanent part of your routine.

But, as we all know, new habits set with the best of intentions can be difficult to stick to. Especially in the hectic weeks of a new year after coming back from a holiday break. Especially in the frigid February snow. Especially when there are so many other, important things clamoring for your attention.

I'm a big believer in daily goals, and I'm also a big believer in baby steps. Break down something that seems huge into small steps you can take every day. Just do a little bit every day. Consistently. Baby steps add up to huge accomplishments.

Here's a motivation tool I found, courtesy of the wonderful positive-news site Gimundo, that has been helping me with my goal of writing a certain number of words every day: Joe's Goals. It's supposedly inspired by a motivation concept of Jerry Seinfeld, with the simple idea: Don't break the chain. You enter a goal you want to do consistently -- every day, three times a week, etc -- and it is marked down on this calendar for you. Every day, if you do the goal, you get to check it off. Your checks soon become a chain of happy green check marks, and the last thing you want to do is "break the chain" and have to start all over again! It sounds simple, but it has really helped me stay on top of my writing goal so far.

Case in point: last night, I got home late, and I hadn't written enough yet for my word count goal, so I plunked down in front of my computer and wrote some before I went to bed. All so I could truthfully have that little green check mark. If not for that website, I very likely would have thought, I'll just write more tomorrow. But, as my role model Coach Wooden used to say, "You can't do anything about yesterday, and the only way to improve tomorrow is by what you do right now. We kid ourselves: 'I'll buckle down tomorrow and work twice as hard.' No. If you can work twice as hard tomorrow, it means you're holding something back today. I want 100% today. And tomorrow."

Of course, it requires that you be honest with yourself, but I think that is a requirement no matter how you are going after your goals.

Good luck! I'm rooting for you!

Bio: Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and editor of Dancing With The Pen: A Collection of Today’s Best Youth Writing. Her short stories have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Books “Best of the Web” anthology and have appeared in numerous literary magazines including Monkeybicycle, Arcadia Journal, flashquake, and The Newport Review, among others. She has also written articles and essays for Family Circle, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and The Los Angeles Times. Dallas is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Fiction at Purdue University, where she serves as Assistant Fiction Editor for Sycamore Review. She is also the founder of Write On! For Literacy, an organization that empowers youth through reading and writing. Learn more here.

Where to find Dallas:
Write On! Books
Dallas's Blog
Order 3 a.m. from amazon
Find Dallas on Fictionaut
Follow Dallas on Twitter
Dallas's Facebook page

Be sure to follow the VBT Writers on the Move tour with Mari Taylor tomorrow when she hosts Heidi Thomas.


BatyaD said...

Great post! Great idea! And it works well for most people.

I've found during 20+ years of life coaching that people have different styles in life. And not just of clothes.

People have different styles of goal attainment. The most important thing is for you to figure out which category you fit in.

For some few folks, the negative reinforcement of starting over if you miss a day will have the effect of throw-up-the-hands-and-give-up-totally: it creates too much frustration.

For those goal attainers, try setting the small do-able steps Dallas describes, then give yourselves some kind of positive reinforcement (such as patting yourself on the head, smiling, and saying "good kid!") at the end of a day when you can check your new habit off the list. If you fail, say words of forgiveness to reassure yourself that it's okay to get back on the path tomorrow.

The ancient wisdom: Know Thyself! is essential in setting up a process for attaining your goals!

If you're a very creative person and need help attaining your goals, read my eBook, Goal Attainment for Creative People.

elysabeth said...

Very good words of wisdom from both Dallas and Batya. Thanks for stopping by Batya. E :)

Martha said...

Great Advice. I'm a big believer in breaking things down into smaller steps just to get you going.

Nancy Famolari said...

I'm definitely a believer in goal setting. The trick is to set attainable goals, as you suggest. If you don't you end up feeling frustrated and giving up.

Great post!

Donna M. McDine said...

Daily goals with baby steps is definitely key. Terrific article!

Best wishes,

Magdalena Ball said...

Thanks Dallas, you never fail to inspire me, and I totally agree about baby steps. Joe's goals is very cool.

kathy stemke said...

Thanks Dallas and Elizabeth for a great post. You're an inspiration Dallas. Keep up the great work!

Mayra Calvani said...

Wonderful guest post, Dallas! I love check marks too. They totally work for me.

Mayra Calvani said...

By the way, I'm your new follower. I hope you'll follow back! :-)

Diplo_Daddy said...

Truly great idea. 2011 is going fairly well for me at the moment. But then again, I kept my wish list for the new year short, ensuring success.

Karen Cioffi said...

Dallas, you constantly amaze me. Are you sure you're in your early 20s? LOL

What a motivational post, and I'll be looking into the links you gave.

I know the importance of goals and projection, I just have to get out from being/feeling overwhelmed.

It's the small attainable goals that usually work best. You motivated me to set a goal of writing at least 10 minutes a day on my own stories!

Dallas said...

Thank you so much for having me, Elysabeth! It's a pleasure to be featured on your blog! And thank you everyone for your comments and kind words.