What do you intend to do?

Goal setting. I love it and hate it. I'm a list girl, so I love making long lists of things I intend to do. But I hate it because I know even as I write my list that I'm probably not going to achieve half of what I set out to achieve.

I've resisted setting goals the usual way this year. Inspired by author and thinker Mark Manson, I've taken time to ponder how successful my approach to goal setting across different areas of my life truly is. For the most part? Pretty unsuccessful. I usually have too many goals which means I end up with a 50% success rate (or less) which leaves me feeling pretty shit. 

This month I read Manson's blogpost Your Goals are Overrated where he discusses why it's more effective for us to focus on changing our habits rather than achieving goals. What he says makes a lot of sense to me, so I'm going to try it out in different areas of my life (exercising and meditation for example) as well as in my writing life. The approach focuses on creating the conditions to build and strengthen good habits rather than focussing on arbitrary goals. For example, creating and consistently practising a set routine in the morning means that your brain begins to recognise the routine, and the effort required to do the routine lessens over time. (I'm finding out more about neuroplasticity too, so this approach makes total sense) I've developed a set morning routine for the days I don't have to go to my day job and it looks like this: walk dog, feed dog, make coffee, write 30 minutes, yoga/meditation, breakfast, turn off internet & put phone in the bedroom, go to study, write. 

So far, so good. Last week I succeeded in this routine, and that success has created a sense of possibility for me. Even though it's the weekend, and I didn't intend to carry out the same routine, today there really wasn't much of a difference in my routine (I treated myself by going out for breakfast). But when I got home, I found myself drifting to the computer without even making much of an effort. I was writing without intending to write.

This may all sound pretty obvious to some, but for someone like me who finds it difficult to stick to a set routine, it's a really good approach. It may also just be that I'm really ready for it. I know I have a big task ahead of me (finishing a novel) and have been intentionaly looking for a way of working that will set me up for success.

But I do love a list! So I've set myself some writing/performing intentions for 2019. And in the spirit of being accountable, I'm setting them down here. 

My writing intentions for 2019:
  1. Finish first novel
  2. Perform poetry inter-state
  3. Recite, read or perform at least once a month
I have no competition or publication goals this year because my intention is to write and to work at improving my writing rather than focussing on the competing aspect of writing.

In February I have some performance coming up, you can check out details at my Live Performance page.
2018 was a very performance and competition focussed year for me and the highlight was performing in the Sydney Opera House in the final round of the Australian Poetry Slam.  But competition requires ego up front and centre. It's humbling to put the competition aside, to quiet the ego, to come back to the writing of words.