Making Molehills Out of Mountains: First Steps to Getting There from here

Last week I wrote about the importance of setting clear and measurable goals to achieving our dreams. Goals have to be specific. If it’s not specific, it’s a wish without any foundation for achieving it.

How do we achieve our goals? By breaking them down into small, measurable steps. Some call these objectives, others call them tasks. Whatever you call them, the idea is to take a goal and chop it up into small pieces. You can’t eat a whole pizza in one bite, but you can cut it into slices and finish it one slice at a time.

Rabbit trail alert: A story attributed to the great American philosopher, Yogi Berra, concerns pizza. Yogi reportedly ordered a pizza and was asked if he wanted it in six slices or eight. He said, “You better make it six. I don’t think I can eat eight.”

Would you rather edit 90,000 words or 360 pages? The project is still the same size.

For example, let’s say your goal is to publish your novel. It’s specific and measurable. But how do you get there? You decide to enter Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel but your book needs one more revision. The deadline is September 1, 2012. Your novel is 90,000 words.

What do you do? You break the task down into small chunks. Your objective becomes to revise 30,000 words, one-third of the novel, per month with a target date of August 15th to leave time for final tweaking. Getting even more specific, this means 7,500 words a week. That’s roughly thirty pages a week, six pages a day and you still have the weekend off.

Instead of looking at an overwhelming mountain of 90,000 words, you’re looking at six pages a day.

You’ve now reduced that 90,000 word mountain to a six page molehill.

What methods have worked for you in achieving goals?


7 Responses to Making Molehills Out of Mountains: First Steps to Getting There from here

  1. Lyndie Blevins May 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I love Yogi and the pizza story!

  2. Patricia PacJac Carroll May 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Love the play on words. And I have to look at things that way or I will get overwhelmed.

    Good words and post, Henry

  3. Julie Marx May 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Good post, Henry
    Love the Yogi joke. LOL

  4. DiAne Gates May 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Henry this is a great post and one where I’ve done exactly as you suggested, with the help of my small critique group.

    I had worked on my middle grade manuscript for a very long time. Never quite finishing it. Then I joined a critique group of seven serious writers who meet weekly. The goal? Five pages each week – sometimes seven. In bite sized pieces the manuscript was finished February 17, 2012.

    Not only that, the sequel is now into the seventh chapter using that same principle. It works. It really works!

    Thanks again.

    DiAne Gates

  5. Henry May 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks, DiAne.
    I use the same principle in my writing with word count goals for new projects and page count goals for revisions. I don’t think I would get anyhting done otherwise.

  6. Christine May 14, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Gained great insight and motivation today, thanks to your article. I am an author that needs strategies like these to finish some writing projects that I’ve become too overwelmed with and have put them down! Back to work for me even if it is writing a page or two a day, at least I’m moving forward and making progress… Again thanks!

  7. Henry May 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    You’re welcome, Christine. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Blessings!

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