The middle sent me this article about goals a day or two after I posted my updated 30 Before 30 list, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since (in part because in the last few months I’ve also become really excited about systems change…but that’s the strange public sector nerd in me).
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical at first, somewhat catching on to the difference between goals and systems, but not really. A goal is a goal. It wasn’t until I got to his three reasons that it really started to resonate with me, especially this one:
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?
Sound familiar? It’s exactly what I did with my 5K (though I’ll be honest, I knew that would likely happen going into it). Although I try to run twice a week to maintain at least some of that cardio level/endurance, I’m nowhere near the level I was at just a week or two before the 5K. Now what? What’s pushing me forward in terms of my fitness?
It also couldn’t be more true that I use goals as a way to feel more in control. That’s why I nixed the monthly themes/goals approach I took last year. When life feels uncertain or I’m anticipating a lot of change, I focus on goals to feel more in control (you don’t want to know what my list looks like for my first week in Lincoln…). While it may make me feel better for the time being, what I really need is to learn to let go. I don’t need to create arbitrary goals just to feel sane (though admittedly this is a hard mindset shift to make).
The second to last paragraph of the article is where it finally clicked, and I immediately thought back to my year of daring myself. Less talking, more doing. The goals part is easy. I can come up with a list of 30 things I’d like to accomplish, or a list of things I want to focus on for the week and month. I can outline when and how I’m going to pursue each one.
But then comes the part of actually doing it. For my memoir goal, I need to start writing ten or twenty minutes a day. To achieve my desired number of blog posts, miles or books read, I need to make it part of my daily life. Otherwise it’s overwhelming and daunting, causing me to create mini goals to meet the original goal.
It’s unnecessarily exhausting, and that’s what I want to alter. In fact, that’s what this whole year is based on for me — cutting out the fluff and crap so I can get back to basics. What’s important to me and what is it that I’m really trying to accomplish? Then I actually get to make it happen. Once my life has some sort of system/routine back in place, anyway.