Arbitrary Achievement Unlocked

Today marks the 10th episode of my podcast Indie Dev Life, and while that might not seem like a huge milestone, it's an important one because I decided it was. When I decided to start a podcast I, arbitrarily, set a goal for myself to publish at least ten episodes. After that I would decide if I liked doing it and if I would continue. Today I achieved my arbitrary goal.

I do plan to continue the podcast. I like doing it, and it's fun to both record and edit. So far, I like both the format and the length. As is hopefully apparent, I'm trying to model IDL on _davidsmith's Developing Perspective podcast. I enjoyed that show (and it's casual format) a lot and I think a short show works well for the kind of show I'm trying to create. So, if you like the show, don't worry there's going to be more of it.

Arbitrary Deadlines & Achievements

I'm a procrastinator by nature, so I have to set, what are often completely arbitrary and unnecessary, deadlines for myself if I want to accomplish basically anything, plus I have a terrible memory. So, I tend to create task lists for myself and assign tight due dates so that I can remember what I need to do and ensure that I actually get it done. And whenever possible, I try to stick to my arbitrary deadlines no matter the work involved. If I decided something will launch tomorrow, then it will. I do the same with arbitrary goals.

I'm not sure why my brain finds it so much easier to work under a deadline, but it does. Even when I know the deadline is meaningless, simply having one is enough to trick my brain into thinking it's real. The procrastinator in me will always put off work until the last minute (unless it's something I enjoy playing with) so I often make my self-imposed deadlines tighter than they probably should be.

I do the same thing with setting achievements for myself. When I released Going Indie, I set a series of goals for what I'd consider a successful release. My expectations being what they are, I tend to make my first goal incredibly low so that I'm basically guaranteed to hit it. For Going Indie, my first goal was to sell 10 copies, and thanks to you all, I sold many more than that. After the first goal, the rest follow a pretty simple format:

  • What is the bare minimum I'd consider successful?
  • What would I be happy with?
  • What would I want to have happen?
  • What would I dream of happening?
  • What is basically impossible?

This tiered structure helps me understand myself and my own expectations. It also keeps me motivated. If I say I'd be happy with something, and set my expectations accordingly, then when I achieve it, I feel good. Without this structure, I tend to trap myself into believing that my wildest dream scenario is just as likely as the rest and then I'm disappointed when that dream doesn't come true.

I say this in Going Indie, but managing your own expectations is incredibly important, not only to your own motivation, but to your mental health. If you constantly convince yourself that an idea or project is going to make it big, and then it doesn't, you're going to get discouraged. But if you set reasonable goals, and learn to manage your own expectations (of yourself, your capabilities, and your results) then it's a lot easier to appreciate the successes you do achieve and keep going to bigger and better things.

tl;dr I made 10 episodes of my podcast, and I want to make more.

Filed under: podcast, indiedevlife, personal, productivity, indie
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