My Kind of Pep Talk and The Fear of Setting Goals

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This is the time of year when everyone puts out a motivational speech or two and sets the bar they plan to meet for the coming year.

Just writing that sentence makes me kinda wiggy and here’s why:

Goal-setting is not my happy place.

Having achieved my goals (as in the past tense)? That’s my happy place.

Until I write my yearly goals down, they’re just kind of floaty and fluffy ideas. Once I write them down and share them? I’ve thrown the gauntlet! It’s game on.

I’ve been trying to make my list of 2013 goals since Christmas when two of my over-achieving perky critique partners posted theirs.

Every time I’d get started, my heart rate would accelerate, along with my breathing, and I’d start feeling stressed out. It was downright embarrassing. And tiring. It’s really hard to set goals when you’re tired so I’d go to sleep and try again the next day.

I just finished my goals Tuesday night. That’s TWO WEEKS just to put down some damn goals. And I stopped counting how many times I had to save and then re-open that document before I got them done.

(Don’t worry, I’ll be jumping into ROW80 and posting them this Sunday.)

What else do I like to “have done,” rather than “do?”

  • Exercise
    It’s been a common story in my working-out-life for me to fail without a workout partner. My hubby was nice enough to go with me the first three months to help us both get back into the routine but the best plan I’ve come up with on my own is “do it in the morning before I’m really awake.”
  • Writing
    As Bob Mayer says: Most writers like to have written. They like to see those pages in their rearview mirror. I usually trick myself by using Scrivener and just writing scenes. I’m not under a book deadline so this is working for me right now to keep going. When the time comes to stitch it all together, my critique partners are going to have to slap me around.
  • Cleaning
    Not only do I hate cleaning, but I’m allergic to dust and many cleaning products. The way I get around this is (a) I pay $75 for a deep cleaning once a month and (b) I use a lot of cleaning devices that give me distance, like an electric broom instead of one where I have to use a dustpan. However, I adore having a clean house…so I do the maintenance cleaning while I talk on the phone. Multi-tasking makes me happy.

I did read one pep talk this week that resonated with me.

I loved it so much I included it in Tuesday’s list of links. The “call to action” below came from Lisbeth Darsh (aka Crossfit Lisbeth) and it’s a fantastic no-nonsense ass-kickin’ for the new year. I needed one.

I rarely lift things verbatim but I’m going to because what she wrote is SO good. Be sure to click the link below to subscribe to her blog – this gal has some sassy words to share.

Here’s Lisbeth’s “Five No-Bullshit Ways to Stay Motivated“:

1.) Stop reading bullshit! If it sucks, put it down! Scroll by. Life’s too short to put crap between your ears.

2.) Keep f*@$ing going! Go to the gym almost every day. (We can substitute this for writing or whatever.) Rest when you need to.

3.) Kick yourself in your own ass. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. “Waah waah waah. My life is hard. I’m so busy. I have so much to do.” Guess what? So does everybody else! And some people are doing their stuff with cancer or a couple of fewer limbs than you. Stop bellyaching and snap your own crap up!

4.) Don’t hang around with losers. We’ve been over this before: you are who you spend time with. Think about it.

5.) Expect more of yourself. (This means accept yourself, fix what needs fixing and press on.)

Now, I could end this with some photos of flowers and some words about love and kindness, but a group hug and a round of Kumbaya aren’t going to help you stay off the couch and your a$$. Daylight is burning, baby! Stop reading and go do. Now.

[See? I told you! AWESOME.]

Do you love goals or hyperventilate over them? Who helps you be accountable to achieve your goals? What is your most treasured goal for 2013? Share it with us here in the comments! Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell…


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About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! My passion is finding those qualities that are unique in every person and every piece of fiction. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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52 Responses to My Kind of Pep Talk and The Fear of Setting Goals

  1. Laura Drake says:

    You know me, so I’m not going to chime in. Just know that I’m standing at your back!
    In my too-tight cheerleading skirt.


  2. Goals can easily equal guilt. People demand too much of themselves then just beat themselves up when they can’t hit their unrealistic ideals. We need direction, but it should come from a happy place. I hope this year is full of happy places for you.

    That motivation list is so spot on!


  3. Ringing my cowbell in loud agreement as far as deploring goal-setting. Goals make me feel trapped, penned in . . . it did help me to tell everyone who would listen to me (and many more that cringed and put their hands on their ears) that I was writing a novel. And I have an annoying addiction to late night marathon signups. You know–spend the money, and of course you gotta run the race. Helpless shrug. Does that count?


  4. “Goal-setting is not my happy place.” This might be my new favorite phrase – it made me laugh out loud this morning, which is no small feat given my week. I struggle with this too, I’m trying to get back on the ROW bus, but I am so overwhelmed by the idea that I am procrastinating…last year I did 3 ROWs and was more productive during those periods than any other. And I have so many things I have to DO. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who struggles with the goals. I’m surrounded by the over-ach…ah…perky folks, or the ones so unmotivated I am surprised when they wake up. I’m not even sure where I am going with this, but I did just talk myself into hopping over to the ROW page and signing up. So…um…thanks?


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      YAY, we’re gonna be back on the ROW together!! I got off track late last year with shingles and the like and never really made it into Round 4. I get much more done when I have to be accountable for it.

      And no, you aren’t remotely the only one who struggles with goals. :-)


  5. gingercalem says:

    I always love Lisbeth’s stuff and this is no exception. She’s right … Daylight is burning, get on it! :)


  6. I came.* I read. I go forth to make it a rocking productive day. My TA-DA list awaits.

    *In the non double-entendre sense of the word, of course.


  7. I had a total “ah ha” moment when I realized that you can tie goals into the writerly GMC. In other words, what’s your goal, WHY do you want it, and what do you think will stop you from getting it? If you know the pitfalls, and the WHY of the goal, then it’s easier to see your way through to achievement. Easier, not EASY, lol.

    Try that on for size. It’s pretty interesting!

    Cheers and off to walk briskly around the block.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s a fascinating way to look at goal-setting, Christine. I’m going to ask you more about this on Saturday if we get time.

      All you L.A. and O.C. writers: Christine is speaking this Saturday morning at the Orange County Chapter of RWA. Come join us!!


  8. K.B. Owen says:

    I don’t write down goals. They are indelibly etched inside my head. I know what I have to do…the problem is actually doing them! I’m getting a better handle on the writing, but the exercise? Fuh-gedda-bout-it. I like Piper’s approach:

    Short answer: I am very much a work-in-progress! I’ll be keeping at it. Thanks for the inspiration!


    • Tanya Cienfuegos says:

      great post recommendation, thanks for that.

      We’re all WIPs, perhaps our real resolution should be to give up the illusion that someday we’ll pull ourselves together. =)


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I like Piper’s approach too…her post made me want to rush out and buy some gluten free donuts. :-)

      But still, you don’t EVER write your goals down? I feel like I have to do that, at least once a quarter, or I fritter my time away.


  9. drimhof says:

    My goals are three fold, personal, professional and financial. Personally, I want to loose 10-20 pounds and keep it off the whole year. I have several ladies that are helping me stay motivated, also, my mom and I are calorie accountability partners. Professionally, I want to build my practice up over 350 patient visits per month by December, 420 PVs would be amazing! Financially, I would love to get all small debts, not including my student loans, paid down by 50% by December. Bud Hyett always said Plan your Work, Work your Plan. It got me through 8 years of school and hopefully will carry my husband and I through another 8 years for him. It’s a good perspective, good goals take many steps, persistence and planning.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Those are fantastic goals, Cory! You go girl. :-) I’m totally down with the weight-loss goal. Do it now, while you’re young. I’m finding that, once you’re over 40, it’s like chiseling concrete to lose some damn weight.


  10. *quietly hums and looks around*

    My 2013 goals have been a December project that was never completed. I’m not sure what my issue is–I smacked them down fine last year and, like you, know what I want to do in my head. It is the dang fear fairy and she’s aiming for a beat down. Lisbeth’s 2, 3 and 5 hit it for me. Gotta get them done and push myself forward. Fab post!


  11. I felt like last year was a complete failure overall on my part, so I’ve really been struggling with my goals for this year. I want to hit 2014 feeling like I actually accomplished something rather than that life kicked me around for another 12 months. For that reason alone, I loved the five points. Proactive not reactive.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Well, I was watching you last year and I didn’t see any failure. You’re one of the people I bowed to, getting your WANA classes off the ground and revamping your website a bunch of times. Breathe, girlfriend. Breathe…


  12. I love goals and lists but I realized at the end of last year that I wasn’t being specific or giving myself any time frame–other than pretty, floaty cloud-like parameters. So now I have deadlines for 2 projects this year. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but feels good too. :)


  13. Patricia says:

    I’m not really a goal-setting, but I am a list maker, which are just little goals, and I love crossing them off as they are completed. I can be motiraved when I want to be and I get whatever done when it needs to be done, but I can also come up with a thousand excuses so I have a constant battle with myself.

    I love the ass-kicking sermon. Just do it and get it over with.

    Keep on keeping on girl!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  14. I swear, if I write down my writing goals, then Fates rubs its hands together in glee and begins to hose me. So now I try to sneak up on them. Dart toward them from shadows. I’ll call it the stealth approach to goal achieving. LOL


  15. Phoenix says:

    I thrive on having goals, schedules and deadlines. Nothing motivates me more than seeing the distance to my goals diminishing. My problem is that I’ve never been particularly good at setting them for myself. The minute someone else says “here’s what you’ve gotta do”, I’m all “eye-of-the-tiger, I’m going to do this”, but when I try to do it myself, it just doesn’t stick.


  16. tomwisk says:

    I make lists on index cards. Cross off stuff I’ve got done and if time gets tight I move my a$$. This opens time to write or rewrite or rewrewrite.


  17. Debra Kristi says:

    I think lists are important. They help keep us on task. My problem last year was I got thrown terribly off task. This year my goal is to get back on task and create achievable goals. We shouldn’t fear the task of setting goals. It’s all in the mind. Remind ourselves that we are good enough and go out there and make it happen. ;) Now I need to go back to my desk and write out my goals. Thank you, Jenny.


  18. Hi Jenny! Instead of new year’s goals and resolutions, I have re-commitments. So here’s one: I’m recommitting myself to finish editing and seeing through to publication a novel I wrote 10 years ago. You can thank Running From Hell for kicking me in my ass on that one. Glad to be ringing the Cowbell!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      We’re delighted to have you ringing the Cowbell too!!

      I love the sound of “re-commiting.” It sounds so much sweeter than “ass-kickin’.” It’s good that we can count on El for both, eh? :-)


      • Oh heck yeah! El has a gentle way of doing it … her enthusiasm after reading my manuscript literally breathed new life into me. My agent shopped it about 7 years ago. We got good feedback but not takers. So I’m revamping some things and setting my sights on a sequel as well. I believe that El was placed in my life to get my butt in gear with this abandoned book! Looking forward to more of your posts, Jenny.


  19. I probably wouldn’t set goals if it weren’t for the encouragement of my writing group, the Calgary RWA. Every Christmas, our meeting is a Goal-Setting Party, and we’re encouraged to share our goals for the next year. And this year I have a Goal Buddy, so there’s someone to encourage me (and I her) as I work towards those goals.

    Btw, I hear you on the cleaning supplies — most of the usual ones in the store make my eyes water (or I sneeze, etc.). I have found that vinegar in warm water works well (in a spray bottle) for a lot of cleaning jobs. :)


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, I LOVE the idea of a Goal-Setting party with a Goal Buddy. I have critique partners who kick my a$$ but, I like the idea of throwing a party around it. :-)

      I’ll look at the vinegar and water idea for more of my cleaning. The moment I catch a whiff of Simple Green or Pine Sol, my eyes swell up.


  20. Jess Witkins says:

    Wow. Reading this post and those No-Bull$hit rules feels like a cyber wedgie just up and snapped itself in my behind. I’m off to go be productive. Nice to see you, Jenny. *hangs head and walks to get notebook*


  21. filbio says:

    The 5 No BS Ways is perfect and I agree! Need to stay motivated!


  22. I threw my Goals list out yesterday. They represented more pressure to me. They’re burned into my brain, but there’s no chance of finding the list on a bad day and using it as a flogging tool. I’m living in the moment this year!

    BTW, my list was exactly the same as yours.


  23. A toast to Lisbeth and her No BS! ~clink~ You are so right about the effectiveness of a “fantastic no-nonsense ass-kickin’ ” from time to time. Thanks to both of you for this one.


  24. That’s a great no bullshit pep talk. Writing down my goals and to do lists is how I process what is really important. But since I often fail at following the list, my lists aren’t S.M.A.R.T enough. Breaking the tasks into tiny, bit-size steps is a must. And to make sure we have a realistic amount of tasks there. If you have only three really important things on the list, it’s more likely you actually do them.

    As for cleaning, I dislike it but love a clean house. My trick is to ask people over and then I have to clean. I deep clean every two weeks right before my mom visits ;) If I don’t, I suffer the nagging.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      What is it about those Scandinavian mothers and the “clean house guilt?” I have a Danish friend who goes into a frenzy whenever her mother visits for the same reason.

      And I’m in the same boat with you on not being S.M.A.R.T. enough in my goals. I’m working on it…


  25. hawleywood40 says:

    I am a little bit of both. I love thinking about and setting goals. It is exciting and fun to think about “what I can do” and “who I can be.” But once I get them down, the part of me that loves freedom and flexibility and room to be spontaneous starts freaking out and complaining about being a hamster on a wheel. This year, I’m trying to find the happy medium by making the goals realistic ones even for someone who needs “unscheduled” time on top of her job and writing goals. I loved your excerpt from Lisbeth – am off to check out her blog!


  26. Pingback: Better Late Than Never…TWO Weeks Late To The ROW80 Party | Jenny Hansen's Blog

  27. Pingback: Writing Through Life: ROW80 First Quarter Goals | Barbara McDowell's Blog

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