You know when you’ve had a really good creative day and you feel all that positive energy as you wrap up your work session? When you get up from your creative time and you’re ready to slay the rest of the day? That I’ve-totally-got-this-feeling is achievement momentum.
Achievement momentum is generative energy that propels you forward. It helps tasks feel easier and goals feel more attainable. You build this positive energy every time you achieve a goal you set for yourself. It is built upon keeping promises to yourself.
You can jump start achievement momentum with one simple tweak: Give yourself credit.
You already plow through countless tasks to move your creative dreams forward: reading this blog post, brainstorming about your next project, talking through a mental block with your coach. But if you’re like 99.9% of us, that stuff doesn’t count because it isn’t immediately evident in your end product. The person who will eventually consume your work won’t see all that behind-the-scenes effort, therefore it doesn’t matter.
But is it really true that all the extraneous creative support stuff doesn’t matter? Could you create that masterpiece of an end product without all of the tangential learning?
No. You could not. You need the sum of all those experiences to create the end product that will change other people’s lives.
It’s time to stop discounting your work. It is time to acknowledge you are doing more to bring your dreams into reality than you think. It is time to tap into your achievement momentum Here’s how to do it.
Create a SCREAM IN YOUR FACE daily visual reminder.
One of the hard parts of working on a complex long-term project, like writing a book, is the day-to-day progress isn’t readily visible. Yes, you may have worked three hours, but hitting save on your document doesn’t scream Look how far I’ve come!
Build achievement momentum by having some fun. Let yourself play and dream up ways to reward your eyeballs with reminders of your daily progress. A few options to get your brain rolling:
- A sticker chart. Grab a good old-fashioned calendar and throw a sticker up every day you work on your project. This means you get to go sticker shopping, and there are SOOOO many kinds of stickers to please your eyeballs. I assure you stickers are just as rewarding as they were in kindergarten, which is why this is my personal favorite.
- A count-down chain. In the U.S. kids make paper chains leading up to Christmas, they cut off one link of the chain every day—and as the chain shortens so the excitement that Santa will be here tomorrow grows. Is your goal to create every day? Get to linking; three-hundred-sixty-five is the length of your chain. How many: chapters do you have to revise? Paintings you want to complete? Songs you want to write? That’s your number of starting links.
- The reverse growth chart. This one is good because it helps you visualize the absence of something, which is very hard to do. Let’s say you have one-hundred copies of your book you want to sell. If you stacked those one-hundred books up into a massive tower, how high would it be? Roll out butcher paper to that length. Make tick marks for each book and tack that paper onto the wall. Every time you mail a book to a reader you color in the chart, watching the pile shrink and shrink until you hit your goal of zero. If you have the space, you could even stack those books into that giant stack in front of the chart—if you choose this option don’t forget to stabilize your book tower, and don’t skip the paper step because it enables you see the comparison of how far you have come.
Decide what counts.
There are big finish moments that we accept as earning ourselves credit. Most of the time this is something momentous like typing THE END on a fully polished manuscript or framing a painting you’re ready to sell.
But the key to jump starting achievement momentum is giving yourself credit for the baby-steps that add up to the big finish.
This is where most of us complicate things. We immediately assign qualifications for something to count. (I have to do all the things on my list to earn a sticker. Only certain type of writing counts. Only increased word count days count. Only writing on Tuesdays under a full moon with a fountain pen on hand-made parchment counts.) Qualifications set us up for failure. They condition us to believe creating has to be hard. They limit our forward progress so we can stay in our comfort zone—creating, but never showing our work to anyone.
To get clear on what counts, put yourself into brainstorming mode. The #1 rule of brainstorming mode : no value judgments allowed.
Here’s an exercise to turn on brainstorming mode.
- Grab a timer and set it for 43 seconds. (Why 43? Because it’s a real nice-looking number that doesn’t easily divide and throws our brains a little off kilter. Brainstorming loves off kilter.)
- Grab a pen and paper, or your notes app on your phone, or open a new document on your computer.
- Wiggle your toes. Feel every single one of them. Feel how the socks wrap around your foot. Think about all the sensations in your toes and feet until it is borderline comical. When you are more connected to your feet than you ever have been before brainstorming has been activated.
- Hit start on the timer
- List any and everything you can that gets you closer to your end goal.
- Choose at least five things from your list that you will give yourself visible credit for when you complete them.
- Give yourself credit. (Stick the sticker, cut the link, color in the tick mark.)
Do you have at least five things you will give yourself credit for? Have you made the tasks realistic and broad enough you are setting yourself up for success? If you did at least one of those things every day for a month, would you be closer to the vision of your ideal creative self?
If you answered yes to all of the above, you’ve found your keys to unlocking personal achievement momentum.
If you really want to make things fun, share your SCREAM IN YOUR FACE daily visual reminder with your fans. Here’s a secret. People love to cheer you on. When you let them see that you are making progress, they feel like they are coming on this creative adventure with you. And I promise you, at least one person will see you doing the work and it will inspire them to work towards their dream. By giving yourself credit and sharing it with the world you are giving someone else permission to be brave and live their dream.
Now go, make your SCREAM IN YOUR FACE tracker, and if you want to share it with us here, we’d love to see it. Just leave the details in the comments below.
By Jessica Conoley
Yay for sticker charts! Thanks Jessica, for suggesting I try this during our coaching session. It’s such a simple idea, but powerful enough to keep me writing daily. I want that sticker every day! I also love the idea of brainstorming to figure out what’s important to my process. I see more sticker charts in my future…
I love these tips – it is very important to celebrate small victories. There’s always a lot of behind the scene work that people don’t usually talk about. Thank you for this.