A few weeks ago, I pulled out a couple of my bags of fabric scraps and started sewing. I was on vacation, and hadn’t had time to sew for a while. I made five scrappy potholders, all different designs. It was fun! It was exciting! It used up scraps!
But then I realized: I had a whole pile of intended or started projects waiting for my attention. I’m great with coming up with new ideas, and I get excited to start new things…and then the shine wears off and my attention lags and I move on to something else. The UFOs (un-finished objects) lie in hiding, mocking my lack of discipline and commitment and feeling like a never-ending to do list I’ll always fail to finish.
As much as I want to start some new things, and start using some of my fabric stash so I won’t have to get rid of it, it was time to take some action. I thought about how I try to instill motivation and discipline in the kids, and I made a new rule for myself. For every one new project I want to start, I first have to finish five old projects. They may not necessarily be started projects, but might be intentions that have been around for a long time (like those t-shirt quilts I’ve been meaning to make for almost 10 years).
Last week, I ran Peace Camp at church, so I didn’t sew at all, but since that first day of making potholders a few weeks ago, I’ve stuck to my rule, and done a good bit of sewing:
Along the bottom are the five potholders. Around them are bibs which were in various stages and needed to be finished. There is also a stack of Thanksgiving coasters (which counted as one project). Under it all is a quilted play mat for church. On the right is the one new project I’ve done–an apron for Dude. I’ve now completed ten old projects, so I can make a second new thing–I just haven’t decided what it will be, yet!
So far, I’m finding that making a rule for myself is quite helpful. Of course, I have to enforce it myself, so I could cheat if I wanted to, but being a rule-follower, it seems to work. I think the key is making it specific. I didn’t say, “I need to finish more old projects,” but put the number at five. I didn’t tell myself that I couldn’t do anything new until everything old was done, which would get old and boring and frustrating fast, but am allowing myself breaks to do new fun things which also is a reward for my hard work.
I’m planning on doing something similar with my finances. I’ve set up a chart to track my debt pay-down. I’m going to make a list of rewards for meeting certain goals, e.g. $1,000 paid off = pedicure, one credit card with zero balance = DVD, etc.
By setting stages, goals, and rewards, it prevents me from feeling overwhelmed and like the process–whether it’s paring down or cleaning a room or writing on my blog–is insurmountable and never-ending.
What techniques do you use to reach your goals? I’d love to hear about them!