Achievable Goals

I think I just had a breakthrough.

One issue I think I\’ve struggled with in hitting various goals is that if I\’m doing well hitting the goal, well and good. I get on good runs and have long(ish) periods of success. But if I start failing, I get in this downward spiral of failure and can\’t get out of it until something snaps me back into it.

I think part of this is that I like to plan. So I\’ll say, \”Complete 6 lessons of math per week, come hell or high water.\” Well, that\’s fine when life permits that, but if circumstances beyond my control take over, like when everyone in my family got sick earlier this year, I have trouble getting started again. It\’s hard to complete an entire lesson of math in one day when you\’re out of practice, so I often wouldn\’t even start. And that snowballs, and gets harder and harder to start.

What I\’m going to try instead is having a time-bound goal per day. Instead of \”I\’m going to complete,\” it\’s \”I\’m going to spend x amount of time.\” I\’ll have to play with this to see how it goes, but that seems more doable.

I think this hit me today when I just made myself do some math. I didn\’t figure I\’d get through an entire lesson (and indeed, I did not), but I started, and made real progress. After an hour, since I\’m out of mental shape with that, I was exhausted and ready to quit. I felt bad about that at first, but realized that\’s actually not bad. If I\’d kept going I\’ll bet my error rate would rise, my irritation would rise, and I\’d make little progress. Instead, I\’m just going to embrace that that\’s where I\’m at, stop for the day, then pick back up tomorrow when I\’m fresh. And do an hour then. Eventually, I\’d like to get where it\’s more than an hour. But for now anything is better than nothing.

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