Is a goal really a goal if you have no expectation of reaching it, or is it just a pipe dream? That question returns with tongue out and fingers flapping in ears to taunt me whenever I consider accepting a challenge.
The first time was when I agreed to participate in the 2006 NaNoWriMo insanity. I’ve launched myself towards a 50,000-words-in-November goal on three occasions now but have yet to make it to the finish line.
A friend and I long ago gave up on New Year’s Resolutions. We agreed that making ambitious “resolutions” that we probably couldn’t keep is just setting ourselves up for failure, so instead we settle on sharing our “intentions”. Intentions aren’t promises in the way resolutions are, so breaking them isn’t quite as devastating to the morale. The trick is to identify the category to use at any given time.
Then too, it’s important to identify our capabilities. I’ve said it before: there’s no sin in being good to yourself. It’s okay to ease back on the throttle when life’s multitude of priorities threatens to overwhelm. So why, when I have more on the go than I have time or energy to cope with, do I accept more challenges? I suspect it’s because I know I work better under pressure. The more I absolutely have to get done, the more efficient I become.
With that in mind I recently took up Jennifer Hubbard’s Summer Reading Challenge, pledging to read ten books before September 21st. I don’t expect to have trouble meeting this challenge because I l-o-v-e to read. And that’s the reason I’ve also accepted Tristi Pinkston’s July Writing Challenge. It’s much too easy for me to read to the point of procrastinating on my writing, so these two challenges should balance out my efforts. I’ve committed to edit (revise yet again) at least 200 pages of my current novel and also organize the haphazard thoughts for my new w.i.p. – get them out of my head and into some kind of outline on paper – during the month of July.
I’m not sure where challenges fit into my interpretation of goals. Are they resolutions or intentions? Either way, I’m getting psyched up to accomplish great things this summer. Oh, but I have to stock up on Diet Coke before I do anything else. It’s pretty hard to read or write without a cold one near by. If I share my supply with you would you like to join me for either or both challenges?
6 thoughts on “Goals versus Challenges and Resolutions versus Intentions”
As usual, you’ve given me reason to pause and think. Which is always a good thing. Goals and i have grown to become best friends. Goals gave me reason to rise during those dark days. Now, they lift my spirits and set a fire under my butt. haha. Yes, I need goals or I’d end up in front of the tube watching reruns of Law and Order shows. Or worse, HGTV marathon.
I’ve signed up for the reading challenge; still thinking about the writing one. Somehow I never meet goals, so I’m leery about setting any for my writing. I’d probably do better if someone set a certain requirement–like write 200 words a day–instead of leaving it up to me.
No need to share the Diet Coke with me, but I’ll accept coffee if you have any…
Joylene: I wish I could watch the occasional HGTV program but alas I don’t get that channel. Maybe it’s a good thing… might be too tempting! Sometimes it doesn’t take much to distract me from what I ought to be doing.
Carol: Goals do have their place as long as they aren’t self-defeating. I always struggle to find a balance between realistic ones and useful ones. (And BTW, coffee’s always on here.)
I had a goal once. It was to query the agent I met at the Yosemite Writer’s Conference, Aug. 2007. I had a pitch session with him but told him I wasn’t finished. He invited me to query him when finished. My goal was to do so in less than a year. Now it is my “intention” to query him by the two year anniversery date. I’d rather he have forgotten me than to see bad writing. I carry on.
That sounds like a worthy intention, Tricia. It’s nice to have an edge with an agent–being able to say he invited your query–but I agree that submitting nothing is better than submitting something that you know isn’t ready. I hope in August you’ll be able to report you’ve finished and the process is underway. Let us know how it goes.
I intend to.