I’ve Already Failed Achieving My Biggest Goal of 2016

I had what I thought was a reasonable goal for 2016: write something of substance every day. The great part was that I would be the one assigning that value, which meant I could give myself a lot of wiggle room for even the most hastily-written, not-really-of-substance blog posts to count in the hopes that forcing myself to write anything would get me used to writing when I didn’t want to, and ultimately provide me with the tools for writing the Next Great American Novel™. I decided I would use Medium as the…medium for these posts so I would have a potential audience and could be held accountable.

It’s now January 4th and this is the first time I’ve put pen to paper (so to speak), thereby failing to achieve my goal, and fairly spectacularly at that — I failed for 3 days in a row! It turns out doing anything outside of the first tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs every single day is extremely difficult. As the saying goes, the hardest part about writing is writing.

As a quick aside, I think the goal says a lot about how I view my writing considering I’ve technically been paid to write words for the past 6 years — first doing in-game live chat customer support for Blizzard, then community & social media management for a small video game publisher, and most recently managing the community at the ecommerce startup launched by former woot.com founders, meh.com. I’ve been proud of things I’ve written at all of these places, but never considered my writing at these jobs real writing, because I was always writing with boundaries and caveats. I was always writing for someone else.

So my first mistake was one that we make over and over again when setting goals for ourselves. I should have recognized the loftiness of my goal. Is it achievable? Most definitely. Is it achievable for someone that considers themselves a writer but has only dabbled in writing anything substantial? Probably. Is it achievable for me? No.

If the goal was the problem from the start, why did I believe I could do it? Why did I fool myself into thinking it was even an option? The truth is I don’t know if I ever did. I set myself up to fail. Maybe you did this with your 2016 goals too, because it’s a lot easier to not try at all than to try and fail.

I’ve considered myself a ‘good writer’ for a long time, but the truth is I think I can write, but I don’t know. In the process of achieving my goal to write more I would be forced to find out if how good I think I can be lines up with the reality of how good I really am. Even though this is a necessary step in improving at pretty much anything, the possibility that I would ultimately fail was just too scary, so I made the goal impossible from the start. After all, if I find out for sure that I’m not as good as I thought I would be, how can I still call myself a ‘good writer’?

I’m still afraid that when I finally meet the characters that have been running around my imagination they’ll stay the flimsy cardboard-cutouts that they currently are. The obvious truth is they will never become the beautiful, intriguing, complex characters they deserve to be unless I let them be the flimsy cardboard cutouts that all characters start out as. I will never be the ‘good writer’ I believe myself to be until I first give myself the chance to fail.

I’ve had stories floating around in my head for too long and it’s time to find out if they’re worth telling, and if I’m worthy of telling them. Deciding to write this post rather than use the tried and true excuse of, “next year, next year” was the first step in my commitment to my new goal for 2016: write something of substance twice a week.

Bonus goal: stop making stupid, unattainable goals.

If you’re like me and you’ve already failed at achieving your 2016 goals, especially if only because the ones you’ve set are impossible for you to achieve, I encourage you to reevaluate and adjust accordingly. Give yourself a break and most importantly, permission to fail again later.

I almost have to wonder if I failed just to get it out of the way and have something to write about.

I’m a long-time aspiring writer that’s finally making a real effort to make those aspirations a reality. If you enjoyed this post follow along for more writing about writing (and failing at writing) and eventually a story or two.