How Not to Get Frustrated This Year

When I quit my job, I decided to pursue online writing. I was like a newborn baby chick. The world was suddenly terrifyingly huge and wide. And it promised a great many things.

It was June 2014, and I didn’t personally know anyone who made a living writing online. Even my friends and colleagues and family didn’t know anyone personally who made a living as a writer. So I turned to the Almighty Google.

To record my progress – or regress – I sent myself a letter through LetterMeLater (dot) com. I heard it from a friend who saw it a contemporary romance movie. So I thought, what an intriguing notion.

So every month – or nearly every month – I sent myself a progress report:

What had I accomplished? What was I currently doing?

At first it was just reminders: You must have already done this by June or stuff like that. But then I realized a better use for it.

Small Goals

When you have a dream, you see this big picture: it’s grand, it’s great, it’s beautiful, it’s your precious.

But a dream that big requires multiple steps, smaller goals. And these goals can either be long-term or short-term. The thing is, if you’re only focused on that ONE BIG PICTURE, you’ll feel frustrated.

I love this article that talks about celebrating the fulfillment of small goals, “The Power of Small Wins“.

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

The article mentions the scientific progress recorded in The Double Helix, memoir of James Watson. Other factors are mentioned, but the point is that you need to set smaller goals you can accomplish within a few days, weeks, or months.

Something as simple as GOAL: Write 1,000 words every day. Yes, a writing goal is one of your many small goals that lead to your bigger dream.

Then you move on and establish a bigger goal for you to achieve like: GOAL: Submit a short story to Shimmer Magazine.

Note, that’s submit – not publish or get accepted. Merely submitting something is cause enough to celebrate, even if you don’t get published. Submitting means you finished a story – ACTUALLY finished one, could you believe it?!

Celebrate How Far You’ve Come

Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.

This anonymous quote is a great reminder that we shouldn’t constantly berate or scold ourselves for not having already reached our dream.

I’m not talking about a self pep-talk. I’m talking about bringing yourselves down by only looking at how far you still have to go. It’s almost like the glass half full or half empty. Say you’re climbing a ladder to the get to the top – to get to the greatest view in the world. You want that view. You want to take a picture of it. You want to sit or stand on top and just be.

photo by Zachary Young

photo by Zachary Young

The point is, you want that top. But you look up at the steps and say, “Holy pie! I’ve still got 20 more steps to go! I can’t do this. My legs are tired! I’ve been at this for 4 hours straight! I can’t go on anymore!”

Well, you look behind you and you see you’ve made progressed. You’ve conquered 20 steps.

Are you going to continue to the top or go down?

You’re going to have to answer that question. Do you really want the top or will you be satisfied with your progress and go, “I’ve proved myself aplenty. This is enough”?

Further Your Goals

You have your small goals? Now make some more. Don’t be afraid to expand. Keep rolling a ball of thread, leaving behind a trail slowly.

Set realistic deadlines. I’ve done it before where I forced myself to finish something by a certain date. In the end, I didn’t finish and I only felt frustrated. We people have self-destructive tendencies. Sometimes, we do things that make ourselves frustration, hopeless, self-pity, and despair.

But you can do little things that can give you that feeling of fulfillment. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Neither should you overestimate your own abilities. The only way you’ll truly be able to develop your skills is to admit your limitations.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Priorities

Priorities. You know your dream, and you’ve got your goals. Now make sure you know which are your topmost priorities. Your priorities guide which goals you want to pursue or establish.

Sometimes, I feel as though I’ve read so many articles and books on writing and selling fiction to the point of going ballistic and losing my mind, like when you have too much information and when someone asks you a question, you just stare blankly at them.

When you aim for something, you have to ask yourself, what is it you really want to achieve? For example: You want to be a fiction writer. Right.

So, what’s your priority?
1. Winning literary awards and prizes

2. Selling a hundred thousand copies of your books and earning royalties

3. Getting a publishing contract with a big publishing house

4. Self-publishing a book to establish authority on a topic or as a marketing tool for your services

5. Others

See what you’ll have to think about? Sure, you can sell a hundred thousand copies, win an award, publish traditionally and get paid well. You can have all this. But not at first. So you’ll have to ask yourself, which is your biggest goal right now?

If your greatest dream is to win literary prizes, then you won’t certainly be spending 50% of your team reading about book promotions and marketing. But if your dream is #2, then you will definitely be spending a certain amount of time learning to promote – and actually promote – your book.

Establish your priorities because they dictate how you’ll spend your time wisely. Also, don’t be so snobbish and look down on others when their writing priorities are different from yours. Focus on your own goals and get to work!

What Will You Bleed For?

My friend and I talked about dreams once, and what we were doing with our lives. Her, doing post-grad studies. Me, working as a fiction ghostwriter.

And we started talking about what we wanted to do – what we wanted to struggle for – what we wanted to bleed for.

Here’s a great article about life questions. Oftentimes, we think about wanting something grand, but when we see how much effort and struggle we have to go through to achieve it, we either give up and say it’s too much struggle or we pity ourselves and say we don’t have the strength, the time, the money, or the chance to do it.

But some of us will take a look at the struggles and the hot coals and say, “It’s totally worth it.” Then, we walk.

Go and fulfill your dreams. One step at a time if you have to.


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