Everyone’s anxiety is different. Each of us is a different special flower of anxious amazingness. Some of us have no anxiety and are able to charge forward with only the care of paving the new path. Sometimes, the word “anxiety” is just too strong. We “worry” about the things ahead. We worry about not meeting our goals, which lead to our dreams, which then leads to us living our perfect life.
Whatever word you use, we each have something that pulls us back a little when things get a little too tough. Whatever your goal is—words, edits, management, publishing, making money—we’re going to deal with attacking that today.
The attack comes in two parts:
Metrics + Positive talk
Documenting For Self-Accountability + Metrics
When you’re documenting what you do every day, you’re holding yourself accountable. It’s good to find someone you can be interdependent with, but not entirely dependent. What happens when that person becomes sick? Then, you have a perfect excuse to fail, and that excuse feels like a mighty amazing reason.
However, when you have your daily planner, it becomes your accountability coach. When the page or the slots are empty, you can sit there and tell yourself it’s time to get started again.
Stare at the dream board you have on your wall and ask that question again. You want to get to that dream. What do you need to do today, right now to make that happen?
Do it. Document it. Move on.
Doing the Dreaded Metrics
I’ve always kept a running tally of how many words I write, but that’s because my background is project management. I was used to managing time cards against my budget derived from my estimate which I’d created using my take-off. So, I knew that if my crew had installed 100’ of 1” EMT (electric metal tubing) in 8 hours, we were _____ hours behind budget and that we needed to make that up ______ hours in our schedule.
The only reason I was able to do that, though, was because I had metrics.
My predecessors had invested years into researching how many man-hours it took to install (1) 10’ stick of EMT with all the hangers and issues that could potentially pop up in the way, like other trades putting their five-foot-wide ducts right where our pipe was supposed to go.
Additionally, we had an entire manual where even more people had invested their time into figuring this out.
We don’t have a manual that tells us how many words we can crank out. We don’t have a manual to tell us how many books we can publish in a month. We have books and seminars and amazing authors doing amazing things telling us what they were able to.
But when we can’t meet those amazing heights, we tend to beat ourselves up and go home for the night. Or the week. Sometimes, the month.
What’s wrong with me? I’m never going to make it. I can’t write like the rockstar authors.
Well, that’s negative talk brought on by meeting someone else’s expectations.
You fight that by building our own metrics. What are you capable of doing?
What Am I Looking For As I Document?
You’re looking for:
- How many words you can write or edit in a good hour?
- How many words you can write or edit in a bad hour?
- How long does it take you to format?
- How many hours does it take you to create ads to market your book?
- How long does it take you to draft a newsletter?
- How many days in a row are you 100% productive?
- Do you have a weekly energy arc?
- Do you have a monthly energy arc?
- Do you have a yearly energy arc?
Remember that you’re looking for how you work and you’re trying to find a way to make plans and habits that work with you, not against you.
Going back to Becca Symes’s energy pennies, the harder you have to fight to pave your author career path, the more pennies you’re spending. The more pennies you spend on this, the fewer pennies you have to spend else where and the more pennies you have to make up later.
Fighting Negative Talk
While you’re doing this, it’s really easy to fall into negative talk. We’ve been programmed since we came into this world to talk smack about ourselves. It’s what shaped us and made us stronger.
But it’s always sometimes what feeds our I can’t’s, and that isn’t good.
Shad Helmstetter talks about this in great length in his book Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It.
Basically? In a nutshell?
If you find you’re yelling at yourself for not meeting your day’s goals, then turn those statements around and find a more positive way of pushing yourself forward.
But then ask yourself why you didn’t make it. What was the obstacle and how can you positively find a solution to this? What do you still need to build on?
Guys, this seems like touchy-feely crap. Yes. I get that. However, this is why we don’t document what we do. We get tired of hearing ourselves tell ourselves what horrible human beings we are for not doing all the things.
Things To Remember
- Start small
- Learn how you work
- Break your big goal into manageable smaller goals
- Use positive reinforcement whether that’s rewards or just you being nice to you
- Forgive yourself for failing
Tomorrow’s a whole new day with no mistakes in it yet.
So, what planner or recording system are you going to use?
Time Management for Writers by Sandra Gerth
Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It by Shad Helmstetter