Avoiding the Side Quest: Turn Your Goals into a Quest for Success

Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash

Any gamer knows the siren song of the side quest. No matter what your noble goal is, the game designers have also placed several side stories to entertain and delight you along the way. Which is how you can end up well off the beaten path accidentally saving a village so that you can build a house to adopt an orphan to keep your dog safe while you’re out fighting dragons.

It’s also the reason that when you cleaned your room as a kid you ended up alphabetizing your CDs and going through the backs of drawers that haven’t seen the light of day since fourth grade — rather than actually tidying up your living space. It’s the reason you end up down a well of amazing ideas and can never stick with one to the finish.

We get distracted by side quests in our daily lives.

Sometimes it’s positive and productive. To avoid writing, I’ll do the laundry, run a load of dishes in the dishwasher, make a grocery list, make a plan for what I’ll write about and a list of great ideas for 2020, and even lint roll the couch where my cat has left a lasting impression.

Other times it’s just more fun to have a shiny new idea. It’s definitely better than the idea you were presently working on, right? You should do this instead!

Stop. Stop right there.

Don’t talk to that whimsical looking wizard in the tavern, do not go press X to see what’s behind the waterfall, do not pass GO, do not collect $200, and do not let your next shiny idea drag you away from your work.

How to stay focused

When you’re setting goals (and I truly love to set goals), pick one.

One goal.

Not ten goals. Not three goals. One goal.

And then make a 30 or 90 day plan to achieve the hell out of that goal. Break it down.

For example, my goal is to launch the new and improved Level Up course on February 1, 2021. My overall annual goal is to run this course 2–4 times during the year, so my 90 day goal is to launch it and run it within the first 90 days of the new year so that I can adjust as needed to improve future versions.

But developing and writing it, making downloadable guides or even printed workbooks for participants, recording video lessons, planning it, launching it, promoting it, and getting people to sign up — holy moly, that’s a lot of work.

It would be easy to just say it’s too hard and I don’t know how.

It would be easy to give up before I even try.

But the key to achieving your one goal is to make it your main quest. When you play a video game, each level or phase has its own milestones, challenges, secrets, and tools. The more you explore along your main quest, the more of your map you can see and access. The clearer the big picture gets.

Each phase of your goal will highlight new areas of your map too. You just have to do a little bit of pre-planning to make a basic outline. It won’t be all visible at the beginning, but you will know which direction you’re going. The more you follow your quest, the more of your map will become clear.

Your 90 day quest

How do you get started breaking your goal down into an achievable 90 day quest?

Identify all the pieces you need to figure out to make your goal work.

How long will my course run? Five weeks? More, less? Do I have enough content for that? What do I need to make sure I cover to bring value to all of my course participants? Am I going to make a downloadable workbook or print one? Where can I self-publish a workbook? How soon should I start promoting the course to open enrollment? Where and how should I promote to get my offer in front of people who will connect with my material?

So on and so forth. Write down all the questions that need to be answered. Write down all the tasks that need completed, no matter how small.

Then make a week by week plan. Take the big 90 day map and turn it into weekly progress on your quest.

Then make a plan to do one tiny little baby step every day. My tiny baby step is writing for ten minutes per day. If I do nothing else, I write for ten minutes a day right now. On a week when my map tells me I need to promote the course on social media, I can spend my ten minutes writing up some tweets and Facebook posts to tell people that enrollment is open. I can spend ten minutes recording a video talking about the course to get people excited and give a sneak peek of the content. I can spend ten minutes organizing the workbook material into a Google drive for easy access.

Break it down into little bite size pieces that are so simple, it doesn’t even take much thought to complete the task at hand.

You’ll usually find that you can go well beyond your five or ten minute task. You don’t have to, but if you’re really into things, work as long as you want to! Stop when you hit a natural save point for yourself that feels good.

Celebrate progress

Every time you achieve your baby step, finish a week in your road map, or hit a milestone in your quest, celebrate!

You just leveled up and achieved something. A new area of your map is available for you to go adventuring. It doesn’t mean you can’t come back later and finish something to 100%, but right now the key is to stay focused on the main quest without getting distracted by another shiny object.

Work with me one on one

If this kind of accountability and goal-setting feels good to you, you might like working with me for personal coaching. My one-on-one clients enjoy a weekly phone or video call to stay focused on their 90-day quest to success — whether it’s launching a course, sticking to a writing goal, opening a new business, or anything in between.

Start your adventure with a free 30-minute consultation to see if coaching can help you reach your goals! Check my calendar and book a time here.


Published by Caitlin

Caitlin writes and coaches about trauma recovery, relationships, motivation and confidence, self-love, queer identity, and social justice. They are the author of The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation. Find their work at caitlinlizfisher.com

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