Last week I was up to my ankles in fluffy snow, in Big Sky, Montana, an hour’s drive outside of Yellowstone National Park.
It was an amazing week: cross-country skiing almost every day (that hill in the pic above? I climbed up it on my skis, then skied down the other side), a memorable tour into snow-covered Yellowstone in a snowcoach, great food, and most wonderful of all, the rare treat of having my whole family together!
My brother’s lived on the opposite coast for decades, but now that he has a kid — my almost-3 1/2-year-old nephew (who has my hair!) — I feel the miles more than ever. Getting a week with Mr. Goo (as my brother sometimes calls him) was so precious to me (and yes, also sometimes exhausting — couldn’t someone please figure out how to bottle that energy and give me some?)
Keeping Creative Commitments on Vacation
I confess I didn’t do as good a job of unplugging as I would have liked. There was wifi all over the ranch where we were staying, and that, combined with my iPhone and some wildly entertaining conversations in the clubhouse made for an irresistible combination…
On the other hand, I did manage to do at least a little writing on my book every day I was gone. It wasn’t always easy to fit it in, but I’d made a commitment to write every day, and I stuck with it.
One thing that helped was keeping my goal really attainable.
I wanted to put in at least an hour every day. I knew that would be hard to make happen, though, and I also knew I’d feel vastly more successful if I had a 100% chance of actually succeeding.
So I scaled back my goal.
Instead of an hour of writing, I made my target just fifteen minutes or 500 words. I still wanted an hour, but I allowed myself to feel successful with just fifteen minutes.
This is the same technique that helped me create over 150 finished artworks in 2011.
(Yes, I feel pretty happy about that fact — as happy as I look in the pic above.)
There’s nothing magic about the number fifteen — I’ve used the technique with ten minutes, five minutes, three minutes, and in one case I got some great results with a hugely resistant client by assigning one minute a day.
The key is to make the goal ridiculously achievable — impossible not to achieve. All it has to do, really, is get you started.
Starting is always the hardest part, so if you can make the hurdle to starting as low as possible, you’re a lot less likely to trip over it. (And once you start, you may find yourself happily logging more time than your tiny goal!)
While I was in Montana, fifteen minutes of writing was all I got on some days. Other days it was a lot more. The important thing is that every single day — even the day we left at 7:00am for the snowcoach tour into Yellowstone and didn’t get back until dinner — I kept my commitment and had the satisfaction of checking off the “Daily Writing Commitment” checkbox in my goal-tracking app.
The Disruption of Travel
Funnily enough, my record has not been so good since coming home. Usually travel disrupts my schedule while I’m away from home, but sometimes the disruption is worse during the transition back to “normal life.”
A 24-hour migraine put the kibosh on my plans for Saturday and Sunday, and I lost most of yesterday in a spasm of tech mania OCD (trying to create post-by-email functionality for the clubhouse, and comparison shopping to settle on the best way to create a landing page and site for Your Big, Bold, Creative Life — the book and book tour [yes! a book tour!], and the course — an updated and renamed version of my Time to Glow program — which I’m revving up to start in April.)
So yeah, I fell short of my (admittedly rather big) goals for getting lots of writing done this weekend. But I’ve learned that beating myself up is never the right solution. Instead, I love myself up, remind myself I’m only human, and reboot (hat tip to Jeannie in the clubhouse for that awesome word!).
As I like to say, the most important practice you can engage in is the practice of getting back on the wagon. (Click to tweet this!)
That, and self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good. (Click to tweet this!)
So no self-flagellation here, just an acknowledgment that to stumble is human. Plus a whole lotta self-compassion.
Think about it. It’s remarkable how much easier it is to climb back on that wagon when instead of a fist punching you about the face and neck, you find a compassionate hand reaching out to pull you back up.
May your wagon always be short, and the hand pulling you up always be compassionate when you stumble.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Ann Flora says
I follow quite a few blogs, and usually don’t notice if one of my chosen writers lapses. A few days ago, I found myself thinking, “Melissa hasn’t posted in a while.” I missed you. Welcome back!
I’m working on finding my own ridiculously achievable writing goal, so this was timely. But then you generally inspire me with your passionate tinkering.
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Aw, thanks so much, Ann! That means a lot to me. 🙂