Borrowing from Scrum, I’ve been treating my goals like a development Sprint. It makes my vision clear for the next 30 days, and I can evaluate what went well and what didn’t. Self-feedback is a fantastic tool.
Sprint goals should move me closer to my BIG goals, but shouldn’t be massive. Not too big or small, but manageable. Three to five work well. I think hooray if I make it happen, but keep them realistic enough so that I can complete them in a month.
My July Sprint Goals were:
- Write an 18,000-word story
- Perform 7 times
- Produce 2 music tracks
- Publish 2 articles on two publications
Like all experiments, trial-and-error is the process. I never have the right information at the beginning, so I’m not going to beat myself up for not reaching all of my goals. A plan is just an estimate but I’m open to how it unfolds.
As the days progress, I uncover more information/clarification and have experiences that make my goals clear. Just like using the scientific method, I’m after an accurate version of how reality works — a set of rules that produce the results I’m after, for the long-term.
Write a Short Story — (Accomplished)
Nailed this one! What started as an 18,000-word short story turned into a plan for a full-length novel (now working on an 85,000-word book). I was even crazy enough to think that I could finish the whole draft. That proved to be overambitious. Even so…
I didn’t anticipate that I would add 4 times the amount of work to the story.
That’s the beauty of planning things out — I’m flexible to change/modify/replace as LIFE happens, or change priorities as elements reveal themselves.
Now I’ve got the beginning of a story that I’m excited about. It’s around 32,000 words, more than double than what I planned. Win!
Perform Seven Times (Modified, Partially Accomplished)
I was terrified to get back on stage as a singer/songwriter. I’m self-conscious about my voice and haven’t performed as a solo act in 15 years. I’ve been in many musical groups as a performer and bandleader, but singing my songs, alone on a stage — that’s a different ball game.
Thoughts that held me back:
- You are not a great singer
- You are too nervous
- You should have someone else sing your songs
I’ve let my fear dictate my direction for many years. Since high school, I’ve been writing songs that were meant to be performed, not by someone else, but by me.
Over the past ten years, I’ve produced instrumental music for commercials. I thought that I wanted to be a film composer, but I was wrong. I want to write songs with words, with my voice, with my performance.
I’ve been working on my first album and it’s the first time in years that I’ve made words a priority. And god it feels great to be me again. That’s the scary thing I’ve learned about fear, it gets in the way of being who I am.
For the album, I planned to release the songs out into the world and perform if there was demand. I hated thinking that way, though. Deep down, I wanted to get out there, show my true self, be comfortable with who I am. And when I thought about it, any song that is considered great was performed in front of an audience.
If I wanted to do it right, I’d have to come out from hiding behind instrumental music, a “feasible” substitution, and do what I want to do — get on stage.
When I researched local open mics, I only found a couple of days that worked with my schedule. I had an unexpected week-long training that took a lot of my time, so my options were limited.
Despite that, I swallowed my nerves and performed two times out of the seven. I’m happy with the results — I made some new friends and got invited to perform a full-length show with one of the best musicians at the venue. Win!
Produce Two Music Tracks (Incomplete)
I made a lot of progress on my second track for my album. It’s 90% complete but I noticed I had more questions…
I doubted my approach of the album I was creating. When I perform the songs, they are intimate, acoustic, and minimal compared to the sound of the produced tracks. Was I being inauthentic?
At the beginning of the month, I was set on finishing two tracks but that changed when I played live. My goal is to have the songs on the album reflect the experience at one of my shows, not an over-produced studio album.
I didn’t complete this Sprint goal. I’m ok since I’m discovering my organic sound, guided by live performance. I don’t want to release something prematurely just to have something out there. When I do release the album, I want it to be something that people will connect with from the start.
Write Two Articles for Two Publications (Partially Accomplished)
I was accepted as a writer for the Ascent. I was ecstatic when they published the first article that I submitted. I had a gut feeling that it would go through. I put a lot of work into it and it made my day when I heard the good news.
Even better, as soon as it was published, a guy from India messaged me to tell me how motivated he felt from reading my work. That made my day. If I can have a positive effect on a person across the planet, why wouldn’t I continue down this path, the path of words, of ideas, of sharing?
For the second article, I wanted to follow the same approach by adding extra time to make it the best that I can do. I didn’t want to rush, sacrificing quality for the sake of getting something “out there.”
The point is not to be a slave to my goals, or go through the motions like a machine. It’s to learn something new with each activity.
I learned that I don’t have to rush the process for the sake of accomplishment.
I’ve allowed myself to slow down and dig deeper with the content I’m creating.
The effect is huge — the work I’m creating is deeper, more authentic, and more me. I owe this to the clarity that Sprint goals provide.
I invite you to try it for yourself — treat your month like a 30-day development Sprint, with the releasable product being the goals that you accomplish.
And don’t worry — It’s beautiful if you don’t hit all your goals. Your heart will remind you what’s important. Those recurring pangs are your truth. They are the BIG plans, your spirit, your legacy, your future.