Today’s post is by author, editor and coach Jessica Conoley (@jaconoley).
You know when you’ve had a really good writing day and you feel all that positive energy as you wrap up your work session? When you get up from your writing time and you’re ready to slay the rest of the day? That I’ve totally got this feeling is achievement momentum.
Achievement momentum is generative energy that propels you forward. It helps tasks feel easier and goals feel more attainable. You build this positive energy every time you achieve a goal you set for yourself. It is built upon keeping promises to yourself.
You can jump start achievement momentum with one simple tweak: Give yourself credit.
You already plow through countless tasks to move your writing dreams forward: reading this blog post, brainstorming about your next project, talking through a mental block with your coach. But if you’re like 99.9% of us, that stuff doesn’t count because it isn’t immediately evident in your end product. The person who will eventually consume your work won’t see all that behind-the-scenes effort, therefore it doesn’t matter.
But is it really true that all the extraneous writing support stuff doesn’t matter? Could you create that masterpiece of an end product without all of the tangential learning?
No. You could not. You need the sum of all those experiences to create the end product that will change other people’s lives.
It’s time to stop discounting your work. It is time to acknowledge you are doing more to bring your dreams into reality than you think. It is time to tap into your achievement momentum. Here’s how to do it.
Create a “scream in your face” daily visual reminder.
One of the hard parts of working on a complex long-term project, like writing a book, is the day-to-day progress isn’t readily visible. Yes, you may have worked three hours, but hitting save on your document doesn’t scream Look how far I’ve come!
Build achievement momentum by having some fun. Let yourself play and dream up ways to reward yourself with reminders of your daily progress. A few ideas:
- A sticker chart. Grab a good old-fashioned calendar and throw a sticker up every day you work on your project. This means you get to go sticker shopping, and there are SOOOO many kinds of stickers to please your eyeballs. I assure you stickers are just as rewarding as they were in kindergarten, which is why this is my personal favorite.
- A count-down chain. In the U.S., kids make paper chains leading up to Christmas and cut off one link of the chain every day—and as the chain shortens so does the excitement that Santa will soon arrive. Is your goal to create every day? Get to linking: three-hundred-sixty-five is the length of your chain. How many chapters do you have to revise? Places you need to research? Interviews you need to complete? That’s your number of starting links.
- The reverse growth chart. This one is good because it helps you visualize the absence of something, which is very hard to do. Let’s say you have 100 copies of your book you want to sell. If you stacked those books up into a massive tower, how high would it be? Lay out paper to that length, make tick marks of the appropriate size, and tack the paper onto the wall. Every time you sell a book, color in the tick mark. Watch the chart fill in until you hit your goal of zero. You could even put those books into that giant stack in front of the chart.
Decide what counts.
There are big finish moments that we accept as earning ourselves credit. Most of the time this is something momentous like typing THE END on a manuscript.
But the key to jumpstarting achievement momentum is giving yourself credit for the baby steps that add up to the big finish.
This is where most of us complicate things. We immediately assign qualifications for something to count. Like I have to do all the things on my list to earn a sticker. Only certain types of writing count. Only increased word count days count. Only writing on Tuesdays under a full moon with a fountain pen on handmade parchment counts.
Qualifications set us up for failure. They condition us to believe writing has to be hard. They limit our forward progress so we can stay in our comfort zone—writing, but never showing our work to anyone.
To get clear on what counts, put yourself into brainstorming mode. The #1 rule of brainstorming mode: no value judgments allowed. Here’s an exercise.
- Grab a timer and set it for 43 seconds. (Why 43? Because it’s a real nice-looking number that doesn’t easily divide and throws our brains a little off kilter. Brainstorming loves off kilter.)
- Grab a pen and paper, your notes app on your phone, or open a new document on your computer.
- Wiggle your toes. Feel every single one of them. Feel how the socks wrap around your foot. Think about all the sensations in your toes and feet until it is borderline comical. When you are more connected to your feet than you ever have been before, brainstorming has been activated.
- Hit start on the timer.
- List any and everything you can that gets you closer to your end goal.
- Choose at least five things from your list that you will give yourself visible credit for when you complete them.
- Give yourself credit. (Stick the sticker, cut the link, color in the tick mark.)
Do you have at least five things you will give yourself credit for? Have you made the tasks realistic and broad enough you are setting yourself up for success? If you did at least one of those things every day for a month, would you be closer to the vision of your ideal writing life?
If you answered yes to all of the above, you’ve found your keys to unlocking personal achievement momentum.
If you really want to make things fun, share your “scream in your face” daily visual reminder with your fans. Here’s a secret: People love to cheer you on. When you let them see that you are making progress, they feel like they are coming on this creative adventure with you. And I promise you, at least one person will see you doing the work and it will inspire them to work toward their dream. By giving yourself credit and sharing it with the world, you are giving someone else permission to be brave and live their dream.
Now go, make your “scream in your face” tracker, and if you want to share it with us here, we’d love to see it. Just leave it in the comments below.
Jessica Conoley is a writer, coach, speaker, & founder of The Creative’s Apprentice. She spends her mornings writing—fantasy novels, business how-to articles, & creative non-fiction. Afternoons are dedicated to helping creatives’ own their worth. She simplifies their business practices, coaches them through limiting misbeliefs, & connects them with a support community. Her specialty is helping writers become happier & more creative as they increase productivity & live their dreams.