When I first started the Manifesto of Perfection. It functioned as a tool to meet my writing goals and more importantly as a way of keeping me accountable to the objectives I set.
Around November last year I looked back at what I had originally set out to do and was sad, as I felt that I had made little progress on certain things.
After recently having a clear out, I found various notes going back to when I was 18, that I did not complete. One detailed how I intended to be a professional karate instructor.
Having so many goals, ideas and dreams that had not materialised made me feel like a failure…
Then I saw it from another perspective, even at a young age I was never satisfied with what I had. It was an self-taught apprenticeship in self-improvement and over time I have learnt new ways of planning, developed my drive and found ways of following what I really want through.
What evidence is there that I am getting better at goal setting? 2014 was my most successful year for achieving what I want.
I view my failures as positive. Although my earlier ideas had no structure and ended up at the back of the draw it established a habit for me – which was to never be satisfied with my position and strive for better things.
Willpower and habit
I read a theory about being motivated and being in a habit. For example you have to be motivated to hold a job, avoid eating chocolate or making time to write. When we start these things it is quite hard to do and require a lot of willpower. But with time and practice it becomes a habit, so we don’t need to dedicate so much energy into willpower.
It is much harder getting up in the morning when you’ve just started working. When you’ve done it for years you probably hardly think about it unless it’s very cold or you’re very tired.
The stop start phenomena
Another problem I had with goal making was I treated it like a fad. What is new is always exciting and enthusiasm is plentiful. My first experience of writing a blog was treating it like a production line so I had material that covered months in advance.
Not only did this have an impact on writing quality, but encouraged me to stop and start writing as I could break off for a couple of months, which made it much harder as I had to get the willpower to keep writing.
I eventually stopped that as I wanted to keep my ideas fresh. Writing weekly became a habit and I can balance the task each week.
From my experience of writing in such a way I realised how similar it is to goal setting – we want to lose weight, so we stick viciously to a diet for five days and hit the gym. Then it gets hard – we realise how much time we are spending on it, how many conveniences we sacrifice and quit.
I am more experienced in setting goals – and even more importantly working towards achieving them.
Some of my goals, such as ‘Run an event’ have not progressed as much, but I can take time to sit down, write and plan why it is not at the stage I intended.
So I won’t be put off by failure or giving up on goals. I will reflect, see the positives and start again. By doing that I even look at some goals and think “I don’t really want to do that anymore”. And so in time I decide what I would rather focus more willpower on instead so that it becomes habit.