12/31/2013 10:39 am ET Updated Mar 02, 2014

Goal Doing Instead of Goal Setting

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My husband is not a writer, but his writing tips work. In fact, Bryan's advice about writing will help you with any goal. He's that good. (I'm not simply biased.)

What makes his advice helpful? He believes more in goal doing than goal setting, and it was his get-it-done attitude that turned me into a writer.

I dreamed about a writing career when I was a kid, but at some point in college after a detour with potential majors in Art History and Italian, I settled on a double major in Political Science and Spanish with my eyes on law school. I abandoned the idea of writing because it seemed as preposterous as claiming I wanted to be a movie star. The reasons I abandoned the pursuit of law school is a convoluted story involving seven months of my junior year living in Chile and researching an extremely boring thesis on the political parties there. By the end of college, I was neither a writer nor a lawyer-to-be. I was adrift.

Fast-forward a few years: I got married young, earned an M.ED in Education, and taught ninth grade English for some time. In February of 2007, exactly three months after giving birth to our second child, I cried to Bryan often about how I'd never become a writer. I would have loved it, I'd say dramatically. I'd sob about all the wrong turns I'd taken and about all the wasted time.

"So start writing," Bryan said.

What's that now?

"Start writing. Just start. What are you waiting for?"

Naturally, I had numerous reasons why he was wrong. For example, Mr. Expert, what was I supposed to write about?

"It doesn't matter," he said. "You'll figure it out as you go."

Every time since then when I get stuck or feel unsure about the next step in my slowly growing (but growing!) writing career, he uses some version of the original advice. "Start writing" became "Keep writing." "You'll figure it out" became "You always figure it out."

Almost seven years later (and the addition of two more babies), I've seen several of my short stories published in literary journals and essays published in places that make me proud. This past year, I was especially thrilled to accept a position as a contributing writer to Brain, Child Magazine's website, a publication I have long admired as a reader.

Every time I have doubts or when I freeze at the sight of the blank screen and blinking cursor, I rely on Bryan's original advice. I think it applies to almost any goal, which is why I wanted to share it with you today.


A version of this essay first appeared on Nina Badzin's blog.