Goal Achievement: The Nibbled to Death by Ducks Methodology

I used to teach high school. It was one of the most important things I have ever done. What I liked most was the light bulb moment when the students finally figured something out. I like to think I helped facilitate many of those ah-has. High school students are energetic, curious and driven. Granted, most parents don’t see this and unfortunately, the students don’t always exhibit these characteristics in the classroom. But, when you get them talking about their life goals, the eyes widen and the lips won’t stop moving. I enjoyed watching them develop from clueless freshmen to seniors with a plan.

However, almost universally, the students struggled with converting their dreams into reality. I came to the sad realization that teenagers don’t change their personal goals more often than their underwear only because they are experimenting and trying on new persona. Sometimes, they change because their goals seem too large, too unobtainable and they reset their sights on something easier, closer. They do so because no one has shown them how to achieve the goals they set.

In the U. S., we have a bad habit of telling every kid that they can be anything they want to be. Then, we keep the “how” to ourselves because we really don’t want the competition. Over the years and in my own act of subversion, I developed an integrated method to help students identify, achieve and advance their personal goals. In so doing, I used myself as a guinea pig and still use the method today. To demonstrate this, I will use my new personal goal of moving from being a non-fiction to a fiction writer. As I explain on my About page, I no longer wish to talk about what is, but rather, what if.

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo occurs every November. It’s when 200,000 people from all over the world take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word (175-page) novel in thirty days. It’s an anti-contest writing contest because there are no judges, the prizes are lousy and new and old writers alike bash out surprisingly good books in an absurdly short amount of time.

I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2003. I have won all seven years and am hoping to make this year number 8! I have been a Municipal Liaison (ML) officially for four years and two unofficially before that. I owe NaNoWriMo so much. I don’t just mean seven bad first drafts and the wonderful camaraderie of my fellow wrimos. I mean the boost in confidence in my ability to write fiction.

The most common fears that hold back would be writers (as highlighted in almost every writing book such as this one by Ralph Keyes) include the fears that you’ll never finish, that you will finish, that you only have one in you, that you will be too lonely doing it, that you will become an alcoholic/drug addict, that you won’t be able to make a living, you’ll run out of ideas, you’ll suck, the rejections will crush you… the list goes on. The advantage with NaNoWriMo is that you blast through most of them in 30-days and you don’t have to pay shipping or handling or have your credit card available. Read More...

OK... who's messing with the fourth dimension?

I used to work 90 hours a week. I didn’t do anything else. In fact, at one low point, I was yelling at the microwave oven because five minutes was too damn long to wait for dinner. Then, I quit. I listed 27 reasons in my exit interview. I will save that story for another day. The point is, despite my distinct lack of time, I was still able to produce a novel a year. Now, that I am “retired” from that career, my productivity has not improved. Why not? I’ve got 40 more hours a week… in theory… So I want to know, who’s been messing with the fourth dimension?

Occam’s razor posits that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct explanation. (Simplest is defined as the introduction of the fewest assumptions.) Ergo, there must be a contraction in time because there is only one assumption. Someone’s shortening the hours in my day. However, my scientific training will not allow me to force my data to fit my theory but rather it propels me to examine all the data and let that analysis determine the theory. Read More...