Updated: Jun 12
How I Successfully Implemented My Goal
My Ridiculously Easy Goal
In my previous blog entry, I talked about my experiences setting goals for the first novel in my novel series. When I initially set this goal in 2022, I had no plan to complete it. I wasn’t even sure if I could. Before this, I had five years and many opportunities to write a book, but I couldn’t. So, what would be different this time? After I set my goal, my father shared another exercise with me called Ridiculously Easy Goals. As I mentioned in my last entry, it’s simple yet powerful, and it’s the reason why I’ve been able to make as much progress as I have. However, I did experience a couple setbacks that were completely my fault.
But first, what are Ridiculously Easy Goals? My father explained that a Ridiculously Easy Goal consists of three smaller goals called the minimum, target, and maximum. For each goal, I was supposed to set the number of times I wanted to work each week and how much I’d work each time. My father stated the minimum should focus on the bare minimum or what I can do on my worst day or week. It should be so easy I’ll have no excuse for not doing it. The target should be what I think I can reasonably do or what I want to achieve on any given day or week. And the maximum should be the most I’ll ever allow myself to do so I don’t overdo it. Additionally, he told me I needed to develop a habit, which can only be done by creating momentum through consistent action.
With this information, I set my Ridiculously Easy Goal. My minimum goal was to work five minutes, three times a week. My target goal was to work an hour, five times a week. And I didn’t set a maximum goal for a reason I can only speculate on. My guess is either a lack of confidence that I’d ever work enough to need it, or an abundance of confidence that I’d work so much it’d only get in the way. Although, it could very well be both. Regardless of the reason, I started my work.
My Rise, Fall, and Rise Again
Surprisingly, I prospered for the first month. Of course, I didn’t write for tens of hours every week from the very beginning, but I did consistently reach my target. It didn’t take long for me to go from writing an hour a day to two hours and then three. The most I ever wrote in a day was four hours, and I was understandably proud of myself. If I were to compare myself then to where I was even just a few months prior, I had improved something like a hundred-fold. The best part is I’m not even exaggerating. I think I made more progress in the first week than the entire year before this exercise. I was unstoppable.
However, it was after the first month that I decided to increase my minimum to an hour, five times a week and my target to three hours, five times a week. Now, that sounds great at a glance, but this, without a shadow of a doubt, was the worst thing I could’ve done. Immediately, my progress started slowing down and I stopped having a positive mindset toward my work. Before, I saw work as being able to spend a little free time to get some work done, be productive, and see where it took me. Now I saw it as a chore, giving up an hour of my day, and having to force myself. Consistent hours of work every day turned into an hour at most every day, and I couldn’t help but compare it to the previous month. Soon, I was working just a few days a week, and then I stopped altogether.
This hiatus lasted three months. Looking back on it, I want to beat myself over it, but I can’t. I just have to live with this mistake and keep moving. It was bound to happen anyway, so there’s no reason to get upset just because it happened earlier than it would’ve or seemed like my one decision was the sole cause, which it wasn’t. When I analyze what happened, I realize that, while my decision to change my minimum did play a role in this, there’s another reason that I easily overlooked at the time: I didn’t set a maximum. If I had set a maximum, there’s a very good chance none of this would’ve happened. I realize now that I was beginning to feel burnt out. I mean, I was working five hours nearly every day at my job and over three hours every day on my novel for a month straight. I’m surprised I even lasted a month.
After those three months, I was ready to talk with my father. I decided to keep my old minimum of five minutes, three times a week; change my target to one hour, three days a week; and set a maximum of three hours, five times a week. This seemed like a good way to make sure I didn’t burn myself out and maintain good progress, and it was. It really makes me wonder how much progress I could’ve made if none of this happened, if I had set a maximum goal from the very beginning and purely focused on hitting the minimum instead of trying to be perfect. But like I said, I have to keep moving. Plus, mistakes happen and are a great learning opportunity.
Why I Like Ridiculously Easy Goals
As you can see, it's very simple, powerful, easy to begin, and the results are amazing. If I had done this exercise back in high school, I like to think I could’ve written one or two books before graduating. If I had done this exercise a few months after moving out and starting my job, I would’ve gotten so much more writing and planning done to the point that my novel would’ve been published by now. And I’m sure I would’ve liked the exercise the same amount as I do now since it’s so helpful and a free source of dopamine. During that first month, I was proud of myself every time I worked, I felt inspired to work more, I was kinder and more thoughtful, and I even worked harder at my job. I was just in a better headspace overall, and I can’t deny that that was the best month I’ve ever experienced in all my years of writing. How could it not be? Every day, I was making great progress.
Even if I wasn’t meeting my target and just doing the minimum, that’s still a cause for celebration; progress is still progress. That’s the beauty of this exercise: it focuses on just hitting the minimum. It’s not some major effort that requires a lot of time and effort to succeed. No, it’s just the bare minimum. As a perfectionist, nothing I do is truly good enough for me and I’d think that the only acceptable amount of work would be five hours a day, but I found myself overwhelmingly positive toward my work. It was no longer about being perfect. Now, it was about taking that first step and walking forward. And that first step didn't have to be a big one, like working five hours on my first day; it just had to be a step. It’s similar to writing a book: it starts with one word and spans into a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, and then a book. But the only way to transform that first word into a book is by consistently working and developing a habit. That way, it’s of my own volition and no longer seems like a chore.
Along with habits, Ridiculously Easy Goals offered me much more. One of those is growth. This came in the form of me working longer and the quality of my work improving, which both grew with a steady momentum. Another is the ability to turn my dream into a goal. Before, I’d spend most of my time thinking of writing or what it’d be like to be a famous writer. Then, I was able to change that by taking action, the key difference between the two. It also helped me build awareness with the help of a tracking recommendation I’ll mention later. I could see how much I was growing and how much closer my dream was to becoming real.
Furthermore, there was no question of whether or not I should work. I already made the decision when I set my Ridiculously Easy Goal, and it’s my responsibility to keep working. If I didn’t try my best and stay consistent, I’d be failing my past self. And stopping would cost me so much. What was all of that time and effort for if I was just going to stop? If I was going to stop at some point, I shouldn’t have started. Luckily, I’m committed to seeing it through to the end.
Ridiculously Easy Goals has benefited me greatly, causing me to hold it in high regard. Similar to the 5 W’S Complete Goal Setting Framework, I have recommendations to help users have a better experience. If you have a negative work environment that doesn’t promote progress, just a few changes could flip the environment on its head. One change that works well for me is changing when I work on my novel. I wake up in the middle of the night so I can work uninterrupted. During the day, it’s very easy to interrupt my flow of work, but now that I’m the only one awake, I’m free to make whatever progress I want. The schedule change can also build discipline similar to the exercise, or help you feel more productive.
This next change doesn’t have anything to do with the work environment itself, but it can still improve how much you work. This change is setting other Ridiculously Easy Goals that complement the main one. For me, it was exercise. I was bettering myself with exercise, and after my workout, I still had self-improvement on my mind which resulted in me working more on my novel. Another change could be changing professions or companies. Before, I was in fast food. It was physically draining, causing me to come home too tired to write. Now, I write blogs where I can practice my skills.
The following recommendations are for during work. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a useful way to track progress in the form of a calendar. Just write down how much you worked on any given day and you have a way to see how much you improved or if you need to put in more time. Next is to start off small and gradually increase the amount of time worked. You don’t have to hit your maximum, or even your target, all that matters is hitting the minimum. On top of that, you can get someone called an accountability partner to make sure you’re doing the work. For me, it was my father. Every week, we’d get together, and I’d tell him about my week and how many times I worked and for how long. This added some extra pressure since if I failed to meet my goals, I wouldn’t just be disappointing myself.
The last and most important recommendation I can give is to not change the minimum goal. When the minimum is increased, it allows perfectionism to seep in. We’re not trying to be perfect; we’re trying to do the minimum and build momentum. As you already know, my entire mindset and emotions toward my goals changed when I did this. That, in part with other factors, led to me taking a hiatus for three months, and I was miserable. Additionally, it’s important to have a reasonable maximum that allows for good progress but prevents you from overworking and burning out. This can even come in the form of working six days a week and having one break day.
If you’re able to consistently complete Ridiculously Easy Goals, a great deal of progress can be made and other parts of life become open to change. Furthermore, a new habit should be formed. As you may have noticed, I’ve mentioned habits quite a bit during this entry without explanation. While our definition isn’t that different from the universal one, the importance of habits is much greater than you can imagine. With that being said, I’ll be going over them in my next entry.