Sunday, June 2, 2013

Process-Focused Goals

Here in the Western world we celebrate goals. We encourage setting goals, achieving goals, and then setting still more goals. We set stretch goals and BHAGs. And if we don't reach our goals, we have to figure out what we did wrong--and then start over again with better goals.

For those of us doing creative work, this presents a paradox. Why? Because setting goals is outcome-based. Creative work, however, is process-based. Or at least it should be process-based if you want any chance in hell of enjoying it. So if we seek satisfaction from our creative work, how can we resolve this process vs. outcome paradox?

By setting process-focused goals. Seek goals that help you achieve non-attachment to the outcome of your work. Identify goals that are inviting and fun rather than intimidating.

A few examples:

* I will take a creative writing course this fall.
* I will work for 30 minutes on my novel each morning before doing any other activity.
* I will spend a hour every other day reading books on a subject I'd like to write about.
* I will practice a mindset of non-attachment to the quality of my work.

In other words, look for goals that motivate you to learn, or goals that motivate you to sit down and get started working.

Finally, seek out goals that help you shake off existential questions about the quality, importance or popularity of your work. Focus on your process and the results will take care of themselves.