The DT Blog

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NaNoWriMo Admirer

It's November, and what could be trendier than NaNoWriMo!?  I have a young friend who is all about some National Novel Writing Month.  She has excited and encouraged me to join in the fun.  I said, "No."

It's not that I don't like NaNoWriMo; I do!  I love the passion and the deadline.  However, I am just not into the month long goals or 30 Day Challenges.  They aren't bad; Matt Cutts is a big fan of the 30 Day Challenge, and he is crazy awesome.  But, I think he said it best: "I can say, 'Hey, I wrote a novel.'  Is it any good? No, I wrote it in 30 days, but I did it."  Even though I'm not a fan of trying to cram a huge undertaking into a single month, I am a huge fan of the concepts involved, and I think there are even things to learn from them that will improve your website performance.

Set Goals

Whether it is for 30 days or 365 days, it is good to set goals and attach deadlines to those goals.  This is one of the most basic features of short term goal setting.  You have a determined (or even predetermined) time frame to accomplish a determined (or predetermined) thing.  It might be accomplishing something within the time frame like writing a novel or running a race or memorizing passage.  It might be continuing something for the entire time frame like ... reading a novel or just running or staying off of YouTube every day.

Your goal can be whatever you want it to be, but for it to be a good goal, I think it should meet certain criteria.  A good goal should be:

  • Lofty  Don't set a goal that you know you can achieve.  Don't shy away from a goal that you know is unattainable either.  Go for it!  Think big!  Feel the freedom to fail big.  You might be surprised at how good well earned failure feels.  You might even be surprised at what you are actually able to do.
  • Well Defined  Don't set a goal that is too ethereal or general.  Aimlessness is not your friend in goal setting.  I am often surprised at how seldom people are able to define their goals (personal or professional).  What is the goal as a professional?  What is your goal as a parent?  What is your actual goal ... other than to just kind of be good at something.
  • Measurable  Don't set a goal that is too meandering or subjective.  Set a goal that you can measure and track and know whether or not you are being successful.  In other words, if you are going to write a novel, have a word count.  If you are going to lose weight, have a target weight (and body fat percentage).

Share Progress

There are precious few people who can set a good goal, not tell anyone about it, progress through the necessary steps and actually accomplish the goal.  We are, by nature and by design, communal creatures.  We want to talk to people about what we are doing.  When they take a genuine interest it provides built-in inspiration and accountability.

If you are like me, this thought scares you.  I don't like people looking over my shoulder.  I find the forced encouragement patronizing, and I will accomplish my goals in my time.  I don't like anyone to see me have to hit ctrl+z.  The truth is, though, I have set and accomplished some good goals this year all on my own ... but I had to tell someone.  In fact, I had to tell several people.  To be honest, I kind of regret not telling more people.  So, here are some sharing suggestions:

  • Announce  Behold the power of expression!  It is amazing the things you will actually do once you say you will do them.  Say to the world (or at least to you social network) that you have set a goal.  Tell them what it is and how soon you want to accomplish it.
  • Update  Because your well defined goal is so measurable, it will be easy to track your progress.  So, when you hit a milestone, tell people about it.  They really do want to know, and many of them truly will be proud of you.  Many more will be inspired by you even if they never tell you.
  • Display  Once you've accomplished your goal display it for all to see.  If you lost the weight, post a picture of the scale (or your new good lookin' body).  If you ran the race, show off the metal.  If you wrote the novel, share the manuscript; if you are hoping to get it published, at very least let everyone know that you did it.  'Cause you know what?  Most people didn't, and a lot of them wish they had.

Whether you are writing a novel in a month or renovating a house in a year, set good goals, go after them and share your progress with others.  It might be a great way to be more personal on your website and even give people a reason to keep coming back.