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Why You Should Set Crazy Writing Goals (Without Sacrificing Your Sanity)

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” — Mark 10:27

We all know this verse and quote it often. But there’s more to believing the impossible than meets the eye.

I circled it in black ink on my oversized paper calendar: the date I’d complete my novel. I tucked a few sheets of gold star stickers into the plastic pocket attached to the calendar. Scribbled on the top corner was a reminder: gold star stickers would represent hitting my minimum word count goal, and smiley faces would represent any day I exceeded it. 

The idea was simple but effective: Every day from then until my deadline, I’d place a sticker to track my progress. It’d be my reward for hitting my (extremely ambitious) word count goals.

It was a tight deadline. Tens of thousands of words left unwritten and not many days to write them. My daily quotas were sky-high. But I was motivated to meet the challenge and stayed optimistic about it.

Over the next couple of months, I filled each calendar page with gold stars and smiley faces. But eventually, far short of my goal, something happened:

I burned out. Big surprise.

I didn’t write another word of fiction for months. It took some deliberate thawing to unfreeze my creative faucet and get it flowing again. A lot of movies, books, and video games—anything to get me inspired again.

You’d think this unfortunate little episode would make me gun-shy of impossible goals. I mean, wasn’t that ridiculous calendar to blame for the whole mess?

Yet here I am, promoting the whole idea. Because I still believe in setting goals. Especially crazy ones. Here’s why.

Crazy Goals Will Help You See the Easier Ones

Sometimes the only target you can see is the one farthest away. And seeing that target helps you notice the closer ones, the ones within reach.

In my late teens, I decided that I wanted to be a filmmaker and a novelist. I loved stories, loved writing, and loved movies, so it made sense in a whimsical, starry-eyed way. But the problem was as clear as my lack of solution: I didn’t know how to get there. I couldn’t see the in-between targets to hit.

Fast forward a few years. I attended a conference where the introductory speaker was a woman named Terri Savelle Foy, a Christian motivational author. While the conference was business-centered, Terry spoke on the importance of writing down your goals, regardless of your field. 

When she was young and struggling with debt and depression, she felt impressed to write down specific goals for where she wanted to be in five years—crazy, impossible goals. It looked kind of silly to her at the time; she had significant obstacles blocking her path. But by the time those five years had passed, all of it had come true.

Terri’s story isn’t the only one like it. Millionaires, it turns out, usually write down their goals instead of just dreaming about them. The simple act of writing down a goal can push it from dream to reality.

The simple act of writing down a goal can push it from dream to reality.

That day at the conference, something registered in my own spirit—reigniting my teenage dream of being a storyteller. That night, I spilled out all my visions onto paper, daring to even put dates next to them. They were all extraordinary, ambitious passions. My heart felt like I’d let it off the leash. I took all the limits off my mind and drafted a perfect future for myself.

Something amazing happened.

I started seeing intermediate goals pop up in my life: achievable stepping stones leading to that crazy future.

When you take the boundaries off your heart, you’ll release the dreams that lay smothered under the blanket of reality. And sure, those dreams probably are unrealistic. That’s the reason we filed them away into the “Childish Whims” drawer and tried to be happy with compromise in the first place.

But if you dare to admit those dreams and turn them into goals, it unlocks something in your mind: hope. And hope is a relentless little worker who continually watches out for opportunity. Without hope, you’d let chances slip past unnoticed. 

If you ignite hope with a goal crazy enough to get you excited to your core, you’ll start finding opportunities everywhere.

Setting Crazy Goals Will Motivate You

There’s something about dreams goals that we sometimes overlook.

Crazy dreams are usually the ones we want the most.

Crazy goals are usually the ones we want the most.

The truth is, nobody wants to be mediocre. Everyone has a perfect idea of what they want their life to look like. But the majority of people hide that idea under a stack of reasonable, realistic goals, convinced that they are more likely to hit an easy target.

The problem with that thinking is motivation.

We’re hard-wired to want the best. But when we replace that ideal future with something much less desirable, we’re also sacrificing our motivation. It’s like an archer asking for a closer target to aim for, but also trading in his compound bow for a child’s toy.

But if you set a crazy goal for yourself—one you truly want—then the motivation necessary to achieve it gets released.

It’s the old, “Shoot for the stars and hit the moon.” Except when you shoot for the stars, there’s a bonus rush of jet fuel to get you there. There’s motivation bottled up inside you. But that kind of energy only releases for the crazy dreams.

Crazy Goals Never Lose

As I said before, I didn’t finish that novel in time. In fact, I abandoned writing quite completely for a time. 

But it would be foolish to forget that I wrote 20,000 more words than I would have without setting that goal.

Runners don’t run to go anywhere. They run to strengthen their muscles, build endurance, trim fat. You don’t mock them because they run back to the front door again. Their destination wasn’t ever the point.

Writing isn’t exactly like running—you do have a destination, and it does matter. But, like running, the mere act of writing will strengthen your ability. The more words you write, the better writer you will become.

If you write a full novel and never publish it, you haven’t lost. Those words weren’t wasted. In fact, you just took another step towards total mastery.

Veteran authors like Ray Bradbury say it takes somewhere around one million words to become a master writer. This number varies depending on the person, but the point remains: every new writer has a lot of “bad” words to get out of their system before the good stuff starts flowing. And the sooner you write that first million, the sooner you will become a master of your art.

Remembering that will help you keep your sanity. You aren’t wasting your time, no matter what happens to your crazy goal. You’re in cadet training. Every word you write is a practice shot fired, a pull-up bar chinned, a step in a march.

I didn’t waste my time when I wrote that manuscript in a frenzied rush. Setting a ridiculous goal helped me get a ridiculous result—I was a better writer at the end than I was at the beginning.

You will, too. Not all of your crazy goals may turn out the way you expect. But you will emerge victorious no matter what. You’ll be that much closer to master status.

Everyone’s first published novel gets a certain phrase inscribed on the inside cover: “This is her first novel.” But that’s rarely true. It’s usually their second, third, fourth novel .… This is just the first published one.

Give yourself the liberty to set crazy goals. Never worry about the outcome, because you can’t lose. For one thing, you never know if your crazy goal will end up a bestseller … but also, at the bare minimum, it will make a much better writer out of you.

My crazy goal is to make a full-time income from my writing by the end of this year. It motivates me to write daily, it excites me to wake up in the morning, it keeps me encouraged to keep grinding when I don’t see results. And every day, I become better. Every day, I’m closer. And I can look back and know that I’ve improved as a writer so much that it’s already worth it. It only gets better from here!

What are your crazy goals this year?

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Joshua Sword

I'm twenty-six and work as a livestream producer by day. I'm highly facetious. It's very hard to take me seriously, a fact that I carefully nurture and protect, because I don't want people calling me Mr. Josh and kissing my hand and handing me scotch or whatever they do in the serious world. I like my own world just fine.

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