If you have been reading my posts you know I have been having difficulty blogging… and journaling for that matter. I have been completely uninspired. I just haven’t wanted to do any of it. With my blog, I did force myself… and I made myself miserable.
Why did this happen? Why did something I was so jazzed about turn to crap, something I just didn’t want to do. The answer is me. I did it. I did it to myself by setting goals and botching everything up!
Goals and I have always had a difficult relationship. I know they are important… I know that goals help move you forward, keep you on track to achieving your dreams… make me feel like a complete failure. I have tried and tried to set specific goals, figuring ways of measuring my achievements, plotting my ups and downs… and … I try, fail, and give up. Or I try, put in the work, grow to hate what I am doing, and stop because of lack of interest (hmmmm, sounds kinda like what was going on in my blog.) I end up asking myself what is wrong with me? Why am I such a failure! If I can’t keep my goals… then isn’t that what I am going to end up as, a big failure?
I am a perfectionist, and whenever I regiment something.. it just goes south fast. I set tons of rules and keep figuring ways to measure my progress. If I even liked doing whatever the goal is about… I “rule” it to death until I hate doing it. On top of that, I can never do it well enough… so I end up always failing in one way or another… that or just giving up!
A ran across a book a month or so ago (yes… another book) called Goals Suck by M.F. Stone and the title intrigued me. M. F. Stone believes that we should rid ourselves of specific goals because they limit you to one path when if your goal was more open-ended you might have been open for any number of wonderful challenges and paths that might have opened up. Also, like me, he believed goals suck the love out whatever you are doing. If you make hiking 10,000 miles a goal, your focus will be making that 10,000 miles, not enjoying “hiking”. You force yourself to do more and more to meet your goal even if you are making the experience miserable. So having a real open-ended goal to strive for is way better.
My heart believed goals sucked but my mind told me that goals can’t be all bad. There must be a way to have a goal but keep your options open if another path presents itself. There must be a way to work on achieving your goal and having a way to record progress without making yourself and the process a misery. And then the answer came to me… Practice. Whatever my goal is… my open-ended goal… I will promise myself to practice it every day. That is it. That is as regimented as it will get. Hmmmm. This may just work.
When I started this blog my goals were to write posts twice a week and to increase blog traffic. Well, I failed at both of those goals and berated myself so much I didn’t care if I ever did anything with my blog again. If I apply my new idea about goals, I will pick a much more open-ended goal – writing (I got rid of the blog traffic portion because that isn’t my focus right now). And the way to keep track of my progress is to keep track of if I practice or not. There are no specific rules for the practice… no words per day, posts per week, hours per session. Just practice – everyday. It can be one minute, ten minutes or two hours. I can write about anything, my blog, my cat, rant or rave… doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if the writing amounts to anything at all… other than your practice. If you want to keep track of progress, keep track of your practice. That’s all.
The beauty of this way of looking at goals is that it keeps it really simple and it makes keeping my perfectionist part of my nature at bay. Plus it makes it easy to be successful and to move forward. All I have to do is practice. And my goal has the ability to change. If my writing practice steers me away from blogging to writing a novel, or maybe just writing for fun, no problem. I can do that. I am not so wrapped up in such a specific goal as “writing two blog posts each week” to allow myself to change the goal and work on “writing a novel” or writing just for fun. But where will you get if you just write for fun, you ask? Well, I will be practicing writing, a lot. And that amount of practice will move me forward in writing… any kind of writing. So it is a big win, no matter what. So yes, I can have goals in my life. Non-stressful, easy, goals. Goals I can have hope in. Goals I can actually begin and feel like, hey… I can do this!
So yes, my new goal for September 2015 is to write. I will practice writing everyday. So far, I have done well. I have been able to get two blog posts out of my practice in the last few days. It has been easy, stress free and I even can record in my planner I worked towards my goal. Yippie! Who would have thought?
So what do you think of goals? How are goals a part of your life? I would love to know what you think!