My goal this January was to publish a blog post every day.
Almost every day, I published my work. And when I wrote something that didn't seem to add value, I published it anyway.
This exercise provided two lessons:
1. I'm lazy and my goals should account for that
I wrote a lot in January - much more than I had in the previous several months. But because my goal was to publish something every day, I took the easiest route. On days where I was in a time crunch, I would crank something out in 15 minutes. Yes it was publishable, but was I proud to put my name on that work? No, not really.
Instead, a different kind of goal should have been created. One that was less rigid, not requiring A+ quality writing to be done every single day...
2. Showing up with intention is more important than putting out
If I had instead set my goal to simply write for an hour a day, I would have spent much more time writing - without being obligated to publish work I wasn't proud of. The space would have been created to drudge through all the writing I wasn't satisfied with until I wrote something that hit the mark. And if that never happened - if I spent the month simply writing with no shiny end product, at least I would have been cultivating a skill. It would still have been an hour well spent, everyday.
Of course it would be nice to publish value-adding work every day (see Seth Godin), but for that to be the crux of the goal misses the bigger picture: producing quality work requires gobs and gobs of drudgery, setbacks, and failure. If the goal is purely focused on hitting that "publish" button, setbacks aren't expected/accepted and hard work isn't revered when it must be.
The goal (and with it the satisfaction from hitting the mark) should instead hinge on the process in all its time-consuming muddiness. This restructuring assigns value appropriately so there's more fulfillment in the work you do.