I’m Not Going To Make It. What a Loser!!

The goals that I set out a few months ago are now looking increasingly likely to fall short. It doesn’t mean that the goals have changed but the date that I achieve the goals will definitely be pushed back. There’s no way I’m publishing three books by Christmas.

In this post I’m going to look at why I have this problem, and then I’ll explain my latest thinking on a release schedule for my books.

The Planning Paradox

What’s the point of plans if all you’re going to do is miss targets? I’ve never managed to make a long-term target on time. When you’re planning longer-term (more than a week say) so many things can change that the plan becomes obsolete very quickly.

Apparently, the planning paradox states that people will horrendously underestimate how long it will take them to do something in the future. It’s as if you believe that in the future you will be super-motivated, hyper-efficent, completely focussed, and distraction free. An uber-human. But then the future comes and you find you’re just the same as you were.

Initial plans are always optimistic, however a way to avoid this is to get someone else to plan what they think is realistic for you to achieve in the time frame. Tests show that this is always more accurate.

Experience

I’m making all of this stuff up as I go. I don’t know how long it takes to edit a second draft. I assumed, naively, that it would be a relatively quick step. Polishing the turd. But as it goes I’m curling out a whole new one. Hmmm…?

The second draft is more of a re-write than an edit and the progress rate is about the same as the first draft. These things I can only learn as I develop. The way I will naturally write a book will be different to others and I need to find out what works best for me. I’ve been influenced by an overall process but the stages of that process will continue to be tweaked.

Beta-readers and cover design have taken longer than I initially thought and I haven’t even arranged a proofreader/copy edit on the final draft yet, of either novel. Then I have to work out how to actually put something on Amazon, Smashwords, etc. and make the formatting look good once it’s there. All of this is going to take some time.

Deadline

I was aiming for a Christmas deadline because I know that eBook sales soar at this time of the year. The New Kindle on xmas day effect. But the way I see it, if the books aren’t ready then there’s not a lot I can do about it. There’s no way that I’m going to publish these things without a professional edit and happy that they look good. So, I’m just going to have to keep going as quickly as I can and get them on there as soon as possible.

I’m still learning, so how could I realistically plan how long something was going to take me. I used to be a Project Manager for a year, or so, and I’ve fallen in to the trap of retrospectively fitting the plan to the desired deadlines. Perhaps I should go the opposite way and concentrate on putting in as much effort as I can each day at a time and not focus on the end point.

The sense of failure I get when I miss a deadline is deflating, especially when it’s a deadline that I’ve told people about for months. Maybe with this book thing I just need to cut myself some slack. If I keep working full-time at achieving these publishing goals then they will come and, when they are finally published, I don’t want to deem them as a failure because they missed Christmas.

New Targets

Having said all of that, I guess I can’t help myself.

The Great Corporate Escape (a semi auto-biographical humour novel about one man’s struggle to free himself from the corporate trap) – hopefully published before the end of 2012.

Christmas Short Story Anthology (a collection of humorous, yet sentimental, stories of angels, open fires and Slade) – a new idea, but I might trial the self-publishing world with this before one of the novels.

Plaster Scene (a hilarious treasure hunt story including hippies, beach huts and 70’s rockstar penis moulds) – published in the first quarter of 2013

Change (a self-help non-fiction book collecting together the techniques that I have used personally, and helped others to use, to make a change happen in your life)  – published after Plaster Scene

The High Nelsons Series (a hilarious series charting the progress of the rock band The High Nelsons. Through the ups and downs and musical differences. Like Harry Potter crossed with Spinal Tap) – next years project. At least two to be published.

So, there we go, nothing like a plan that I can shoot down in a couple of months. 🙂

Anyone else ever felt the planning frustration of missing your own self-imposed deadlines?

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6 responses to “I’m Not Going To Make It. What a Loser!!

  1. Working in IT all of this rings true Mike! Fitting a plan to a deadline (will we ever learn?!), plans falling to bits (a plan doesn’t survive first contact with the enemy) and the feeling of always being on the backfoot as deadline after deadline is missed.

    I think it’s useful to frame deadlines as targets instead. Especially if the deadline is self-imposed it’s something to work towards rather than a stick to beat yourself with. The key thing – as you suggest – is to focus on making sustained progress on a daily basis, making sure you’re working on the most important thing to get to your goal. Then when you miss the goal you know you worked hard to meet it and it wasn’t possible so don’t fret, or you realise you didn’t work hard enough which gives you cause to look at your internal motivations and how well aligned the goal is to yourself.

    I rejected planning in my personal life a long time ago, a backlash against the planning demands at work I think. This was very much to my detriment – you need something to work towards or you just sleepwalk to the grave.

    I’ve since adopted an approach I read in Getting Results the Agile Way which focuses on setting weekly, monthly and annual desirable outcomes in each of your key life areas. Then on a daily basis you decide on the 3 most important outcomes to achieve that day to get you there. With regular review points you get a good idea of your progress and challenges.

    It’s pretty lightweight but keeps you focused. I’ve found it incredibly useful in being more intentful in my life.

  2. And as Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless. Planning is indispensable.”

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