Pushing the limit feels good. I’ll admit. Because we love to surprise ourselves. We love not knowing for certain if something can be done and then actually accomplishing the feat.
Maybe that’s a crazy word-count goal. I’ve made many (hello, 5,000-word-a-day goals). Maybe it’s a publishing goal (yes, even this year, I plan to publish 4 new books). It’s a little like running a marathon (or so I hear). At the end, there’s supposedly this euphoria of having crossed the finish line. That’s what makes people run another marathon.
It’s what makes people want to create another crazy goal. It's addictive.
I’ll probably never hit a time when I DON’T have some crazy goal hovering out there in the distance.
I’m also recognizing the importance of work that gets done that’s not quantifiable. There’s a ton of it, when the work is creative. Figuring out plot problems. Finding the right voice for a narrator. That doesn’t necessarily involve a ton of new words. Or you might need to spend a few hours figuring out a new program. OR (this one’s really horrible): You might cut 10K out of the project. Is that a step back?
No. It’s not. It’s progress.
Here’s the thing I’m coming to terms with: Making crazy goals and pushing your own limit AND recognizing the value of non-quantifiable work days are not mutually exclusive. Crazy goals are also not all-or-nothing. You tell yourself you’re going to get a book completely finished by the end of January. On the 20th, you have an ah-ha! moment that means you make one of those 10k-word cuts. Does that mean you failed and the crazy goal is abandoned completely?
Nope. It means you look at what now needs to be done. You make a revised crazy goal: mid-February. It’s two weeks later than originally planned, but it’s JUST two weeks. It’s my experience that if I don’t give myself another deadline / goal, it can really fall apart. Suddenly, it’s mid-March, and the thing isn’t completely done yet.
So right now, for me, pushing the limits means to make goals (AND maintain the willingness to revise those goals), recognize the importance of all kinds of work, and to always, always, always KEEP GOING.