Saturday, October 22, 2011

Goal Setting vs. Patience and Persistence

As for goals, I don't set myself those anymore. I'm not one of these 'I must have achieved this and that by next year' kind of writers. I take things as they come and find that patience and persistence tend to win out in the end.  Paul Kane

The question that comes to mind is “Does it have to be an either/or proposition?”

Many years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which is a personality test.  I don’t know how rare it is, but I scored exactly 50/50 for being an introvert/extrovert.  This tendency toward inner conflict is revealed in other aspects of my personality, as well, such as having the need to set goals, but then feeling boxed in by them.  It even shows up in my writing, as I am a “plantser”.  I have to have some sort of structure to guide me, but room to let the creative imps out to play.

Goal setting is very important, as it keeps us on track for whatever it is we want to accomplish.  Early on I read a wonderful book, Writing Brave and Free by Ted Kooser and Steve Cox, that said to write at least ten minutes every day and make goals.  This wisdom I took seriously, began writing ten minutes a day, and made the goal to be published somewhere within two years. (Which I am happy to say I met!)

The upside to goal setting is that we have a measuring stick for how far we’ve gone on the road toward reaching our dreams.  Goals also help us to know when something isn’t working, and fix it.  Unfortunately, if you consistently don’t meet your goals, it can be pretty demoralizing.

If I were to rely on only patience and persistence, I could rationalize myself out of finishing anything I started.  I could patience myself into stagnation.  But, especially in creative endeavors, a certain level of patience is required.  Words don’t always flow like a gushing river, editing can be time-consuming, and then there is always the inevitable wait after submission, whether that be to a magazine, agent or publisher. 

I have been frustrated lately, as each writing goal I set drops away, unmet. Other life needs get in the way of writing, and I have been reduced, for the time being, to making my goal to write ten minutes a day.  Now is the time I need to incorporate patience into my writing process – patience for myself, patience for where my life is right now, and patience with the long process writing a novel entails.  And keep persisting, moving forward toward the finish line, even if it is measured only in tiny steps.

How about you?  Do you lean more heavily toward goal setting or patience/persistance?


  1. Hi this is Nicole from Colie’s Kitchen I just discovered your blog and wanted to drop by and say hi. I am now a new follower. I would love to have you stop by Colie’s Kitchen if you get a chance.

  2. Hi Nicole! Thanks for stopping by and welcome to Motivation for Creation. I'll definitely stop by and check out your blog!

  3. Cindy Keen Reynders: I use a combination of goal setting and patience/persistence. And at the end of the day, even though I don't always get done what I want to each week, I just roll it over to the next week. Eventually my Work in Progress gets done, I've found. I do my best to market the work when I deem it finished, but sometimes my time line for selling isn't the time line it's sold in. I've found it's best to be flexible and keep on trucking!

  4. Yep - flexibility definitely makes the journey less stressful :)

  5. I prefer to go with patience & persistence, but will set goals from time to time, just to see if I can still focus enough to accomplish them. I can go along feeling very weak and ineffective for ages, but when I need to boost my confidence and remind myself I'm a very capable person, I set concrete goals and pat myself on the back as I get them done.

  6. I like your fish, by the way.

  7. Thanks, Lori! My kids like the fish, too. When I visit the blog to make comments, they always have to feed them. You make a good point, that goals can be self-affirming when you attain them!

  8. I'm terrible with patience on achieving stuff, so I try to set goals! Otherwise, I will get too restless with the idea of being patient! :)

    By the way, I awarded you the Versatile BLogger award! Check out my blog to accept it!

  9. Gee, Nicole! Thanks so much - I'll head over right now!

  10. I lean more toward patience & persistence. Sort of a coincidence that I'm reading this now because lately I've been trying to set goals. Great post! Following you from the writer's blog hop, hope you'll stop by & check out my blog :)

  11. Hey Kelly! Thanks for following and I'll be stopping by soon to Savy Suburban. I think we all have to try out different methods, just to see what works best. Plus, what works at one time may not be as effective in different circumstances. That is why I try (stress the word try, because it's not easy!) to be flexible!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave your comments below.


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