Process vs. Product Goals

It's about that time of year. Not quite Q4, but late enough in the year to think about my progress against my annual goals. The good news is that I'm doing great. I'm on track. But, for the first time in years, my big goal this year was not a product goal, but a process goal.

I didn't do it on purpose. But I'm reading a lot this year that challenges the current business mindset that an annual goal is the sum total of your year's efforts. If I did that, I might have set a goal to write a book this year.

But I've published before, and there was never big romance in that for me anyway. I just wanted to get better at writing. In fact, I want to be great at it. I'd like to be as confident in my writing as I am in my speaking. I'm not tied down to any specific form that my writing will take. So instead of setting a goal to write or publish a book, for instance, my goal was to write every day this year.

Every day.

After a couple of months creating the daily writing habit (about 66 days, and I wasn't even trying), I took a writing class. Having specific feedback from my teacher as well as other students helped me increase the quality of my writing dramatically. I read several books and followed their great writing prompts, found a dedicated writing partner / peer reviewer, and am ironically exploring an opportunity to write for book publication again. Not because I've been focused on getting published again. But because, instead of obsessing over the outcome ("product"), I've focused on the everyday work of writing ("process").

I've written every single day this year, and because much of my writing has been by hand, in a notebook, the best I can do is estimate my word count. In the first eight months of the year, I've written somewhere almost 160,000 words. The rough equivalent of three novels, if you're looking for a benchmark.

Would my year be going differently if I'd set an annual goal of "52 blog posts of 1,000 words each," or "write a book?" Hard to say. And there are probably goals that are clearest as end result goals. But I am completely happy with and excited about my results from focusing this year on process instead of product.