Of Monster Dreams and Mouse Goals

These two concepts have changed my life: Monster Dreams and Mouse Goals.

Monster Dreams are meta.

They’re your really big thinks. Your maybe-some-days. Your what-ifs.

Right now, as I write this, my Monster Dreams include writing a bestselling novel, owning that one gorgeous house on California Street in Old Southwest Reno that makes my heart skip a beat every time I drive by it, and finishing an Ironman when I’m the same age my mother was when she died.

Those are things that lots of people dream about. They are overarching life goals.

The thing about Monster Dreams is that they are so big, it can be super easy to let yourself believe that you’re actually making progress on them when all you’re really doing is daydreaming.

Mouse Goals are baby steps.

They’re the little things that stand between where you are now and your Monster Dreams.

I call them Mouse Goals because when I say baby steps, I mean it. These are itty, bitty, teeny, tiny little goals.

In fact, my go to for Mouse Goals is something that I can finish in 10 minutes.

I have this theory that if I do anything for ten minutes a day, in 100 days I’ll have developed a rock solid habit.

Mouse Goals are those habits.

The Internet is full of people trying to make some Monster Dream come true in record time. Paying off $100,000 of debt in a year or writing a novel in 30 days or going from couch to Marathon in — I don’t know, a weekend.

Monster Dreams are awesome. It sucks when you put a hard deadline on them that requires making them a full time job. That way leads to giving up when you can’t keep up the pace.

And by ‘you,’ I mean ‘I.’

Monster Dreams: The Big Stuff

Think about it. It’s super easy to sit down to work on something for ten minutes, just so you can cross the damned thing off your list — and then get caught up and work for thirty minutes instead.

It’s way harder to sit down to work for ten minutes, when you know you’re supposed to work for three hours, but life just isn’t going to cooperate with that today.

If you’ve decided that it’s hard core or nothing, the chances are super high that you’ll go with nothing on non-hard-core days. And that eventually hard-core days will be fewer and further between.

Mouse Goals are kind of boring and a little embarrassing to talk about — but they get the job done.

I mean, seriously. It isn’t easy to tell anyone that you’re on a mission to exercise for ten minutes a day for the next 100 days.

Me on the first day of my 100 Day Experiment, a few minutes away from wheezing my way through my first 150 meter swim. Also, I am, clearly, the Queen of Selfies. (Not.)

I did that. I weighed about 350 pounds at the time. A fat lady made it a goal to exercise for ten minutes? Really? Reddit picked it up and made fun of me.

Trust me, having Reddit make fun of you isn’t really all that fun. For you. I’m sure they were amused.

But guess what. I went from swimming 150 meters on day one to swimming 2000 on day 100. Because ten minutes rarely stays ten minutes. Ten minutes is just about getting the ball rolling.

Me on Day 100. Still fat, but I had just finished swimming 2000 meters! My selfie game did not improve.

In fact, no matter what your Mouse Goal is, it always boils down to this: Just get started.

Those 100 days didn’t make me thin. They made me stronger. And they made me realize that I wanted to close the gap between what I wanted to do and what I could do.

The Mouse Goals added up.

Me, a year and 100 pounds later. Mouse Goals led to weight loss surgery to help me bridge the gap.

If writing a book is your Monster Dream, put your butt in a chair and write for ten minutes today. Then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

I’d tell you to just wait and see what happens, but I can give you a spoiler.

You’ll write a book.

Maybe not in 30 days. That’s okay. There’s no actual edict that says that you have to write your book as fast as possible.

But six months from now? You’ll have a first draft done if you follow through with writing for at least ten minutes a day.

Guess what all the people who have a similar Monster Dream they never actually start working toward will have in six months.

Did you say ‘nothing?’

Mouse Goals will change your life.

If you don’t believe me, go ahead and give it a shot. Come back in 100 days and let me know how it went. What do you have to lose? Those ten minutes? You can spare them. That’s the whole point.


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Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and is the original Ninja Writer.

Follow Shaunta on Twitter @shauntagrimes.

If you want to be a Ninja Writer, too, start with the Ninja Writers Academy. You’ll get a lesson every Saturday, share your work for feedback, and Shaunta holds office hours on Sunday afternoons. And it’s all free.