I’m almost a month into the Challenge of writing a million words in 2016, and I’ve already learned a lot about what it takes to achieve big goals in life. I’ve done a lot of reading around this subject too, looking for motivational tips and stories of others who have faced similar challenges. So I thought I would share a few of the best bits of advice I’ve discovered, in the hope that they will help you get through your challenges too.
How to face challenges and win:
- Set a Challenge that excites you.
With the Million Word Challenge, I’ve taken on a challenge that’s huge and daunting and terrifying, but also one that matches my dreams of being a full-time writer and published author. You can’t be a professional writer without writing a lot of words, and that’s exactly what this challenge involves. So whatever you choose for your own challenge, make sure it’s scary and big enough to push you outside your comfort zone, and make sure it’s something that really excites you at the thought of achieving it.
- Break your Challenge down into smaller “mini-challenges”
My daily target is a word count of 2733 words. If I hit that every day then I’ll be a word millionaire by the end of this year. If your challenge is to lose weight or get fit, break down those goals down into smaller goals, which you can achieve in a relatively short time. This will help to keep you on the right track and keep your motivation levels high.
- Take one step at a time.
Every day, I start with a word count of zero, no matter how many words I’ve written previously. If I start looking ahead at the number of days I still have left in the year, the thought of writing 3000 words every day makes me feel a little sick with fear. But if I just wake up every day and know that all I have to do is write for around two hours, then that doesn’t seem so bad. I like to write, and hopefully you’ll enjoy meeting your challenge too. By taking one day at a time, the whole challenge feels much less daunting.
- Focus on the bigger goal.
My million word challenge isn’t just about writing. It’s also about creating new habits, developing self-discipline and becoming the sort of person I would like to be in the future. You need to create a clear image in your mind of what life will be like when you’ve met your challenge successfully, and focus on that image for a few minutes every day. What sort of person will you be? How will your life have improved? The more detailed answers you can come up with, the more you’ll feel empowered to push yourself towards your goal, even when the going gets tough.
- Don’t let set-backs put you off.
There are some days when I don’t feel like writing, or I genuinely just don’t get the time. Even though it’s only January, I’m already over 10,000 words behind my word count target, and there’s never been a time when I’ve been ahead of schedule. But still, I’m not going to give up. There’s always more words to be written, and I know the sort of person I am: I work best under pressure, so as it gets toward the end of the year and my challenge is nearly at an end, I’ll push myself to do anything I can to achieve my goal, and it will take a much higher priority in my life in December than it has in January.
- Celebrate small wins and incentivise every step.
We all need external motivation, and one great method of convincing someone to work harder is to use incentives such as sales bonuses, promotions and even public recognition. To help motivate myself to write every day, I’ve created a promotions ladder for my writing career, including every step from beginning writer to Superstar multi-million selling author, with appropriate incentives at every stage. Think about how you can reward yourself for reaching your mini challenge targets, or getting to a certain point in your career development. The rewards don’t have to be physical, they can include taking time out, being kind to yourself or sharing your progress with others.
- Get support and accountability.
One of the most important aspects of creating a challenge is thinking about what will happen if you don’t manage to complete it. Who will notice? If you don’t have a support network in place, or some form of accountability, you’re more likely to give up when things get difficult, and more likely to get stuck at a certain point. The good news is, the world is full of lovely, kind people who are ready and waiting to cheer you on. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your goals with close friends and family right now, look for an online forum or facebook group filled with people with similar interests. There’s bound to be others out there who are either going through a similar challenge, or have done so in the past, and they’ll be happy to give you a cheer or a pick up when you need it. And if you’re really struggling to find an accountability partner, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with someone who can relate to your challenge.
- Celebrate your achievements.
Meeting a challenge head on takes a lot of courage and strength. Even taking action in the direction of your goals is more than most people would do, regardless of whether you reach your targets or not. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for even considering taking on your mammoth challenge. You’re an amazing human being, and you can achieve more than you might believe. You know what? The next challenge you take on is going to be even harder, and you’ll rock that one too, I know it.
Whatever your personal challenge might be, I hope you’ve found the above words useful (they’ve helped me add another thousand words to my word count at least!). I’ll post again tomorrow with some more thoughts, but until then, I hope you have a nice day with your loved ones.
Fact of the Day: February 8th 2016 will be the Chinese New Year, and this year will be the Year of the Monkey. People born in this year are said to be clever, quick-witted, gentle and honest. Describes me to a tee, I’d say!