We are about 5 weeks into the academic summer (apologies if you’re on the quarter/trimester system – you’re summer is just starting). I’m sure many of you started the summer relieved to be done, and excited to start on your writing projects.
I’m a big fan of constantly revisiting the goals you set for yourself, and revising those goals based on the progress you are making. The benefit of doing this is that you will be able to make steady progress without feeling surprised or disappointed about the amount of work you are completing. I talk about goals all the time.So it makes sense for me to talk to you about how to achieve your goals. After all, you’re not just setting goals so you have something to write on your to-do list, right?
Sometimes goals can be like a slow cooker – set it and forget it. You write down your goals, get to work, then lose track of what you set out to accomplish. That’s not a good approach. Goals have to be monitored. Suppose you want to run a ten-minute mile. You wouldn’t measure your speed the first time you run, then not measure your speed again for 3 months, right? You would instead track your progress.
So let’s say you have about 6-7 weeks left to work on your summer projects before the pre-academic year administrative work begins. To assess where you are in terms of your writing projects, ask yourself these questions:
What did I intend to accomplish by this date?
What have I accomplished?
Am I satisfied with what I have accomplished?
What do I still need to do?
How long do I estimate my remaining tasks will take?
Remember, looking that what you’ve already accomplished is the best predictor of how much you can accomplish in the time you have left. What can you accomplish in the remaining weeks of summer, based on the pace you have been working at in the early summer (link to blog post about estimating how long a project will take).
One caveat: don’t judge your progress by what other people are doing. You may have a friend or a colleague who is pounding out manuscript after manuscript, and that may make you feel like you’re moving too slowly. Or you might see someone who is working every weekend and believe that your schedule should be similar. It shouldn’t. Your goals are about you, not anyone else.
Finally, think about how you feel about your progress. Are you satisfied? Disappointed? Excited about what you’ve discovered through your writing?
I hope this post can serve as a reminder for you to be realistic about your goals and treat yourself with compassion. Even if you aren’t making the progress you may have envisioned at the beginning of the summer, you have plenty of time to get back on track. Focus on doing, not berating.