Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Don't Let Your Goals Grow Up to Be Obstacles

Maven Jacqueline BarbourMy original blog topic for this week's theme was going to be Goal-Setting for the Organizationally Challenged, a post I am eminently qualified to write since I am pretty much the classic absent-minded professor type. (I even, at one time in my life, expected to be a professor--of Classics, in case you're wondering--so the role has always seemed natural.)

Why did I change my mind about what to write about? Well, because this problem (goals becoming obstacles) came and hit me smack in the face this week.

Now, the first thing I have to say is that I agree 100% with all of Erica's goal-setting advice. But even if you follow that advice to the letter when you set your goals, what do you do when it becomes apparent that you can't achieve one or more of them? Do you adjust the goals to fit changing life circumstances (like a really nasty cold that threatens to turn into pneumonia :>) or do you let your inability to achieve the goal make you feel like a failure?

I'm afraid during the past week, I fell into the trap of the second. Possibly worse, I let my stubborn determination to achieve my goal suck all the joy out of writing (and, truthfully, pretty much everything else!). The goal had become an end itself and, well, that's just dumb! I mean, the goal is supposed to serve me, not the other way around.

And that's what I mean when I say you can't let your goals grow into obstacles. Always remember why the goal exists--to help you. Don't be afraid to adjust your goals in the face of evidence that the ones you have aren't doing their job.

In the spirit of following my own advice, I set myself a new goal yesterday: For the next month, I'm on a holiday. During my holiday, the only things I will do because I have to do them are work-related things and family-related things. Everything else, including writing, I must only do if I want to. I will write only if the words are burning a hole in my head, only if I must write to maintain my sanity. No more forcing myself to sit at the keyboard and write something I'm not feeling. It never comes out right that way, anyway!

YOUR TURN: Have you ever failed to meet a self-imposed goal? What did you do? If you modify your goals, do you feel like you're cheating? What was the most challenging goal you ever set for yourself that you did achieve?

P.S. Sorry I'm late this morning. My ISP had an outage that started around 4:30 yesterday afternoon and didn't get repaired until some time during the night!


lacey kaye said...

I modify goals all the time. No, I don't think it's cheating. That said, there must be a stigma associated with revising goals, or else they just keep getting pushed back!

Bill Clark said...

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

Thus spake Emerson.

Stasis is death. Change and development are life. It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. (And a man's, too!). Nothing stays the same. Change is the only constant.

Choose any or all of the above, and feel free to modify your goals as circumstances warrant. ;-)

Vicki said...

I am very much a goal oriented person. The problem is I more often than not pick goals that will kill me. So, I go back to the goal board and modify them.

My mom once told me to shoot for the moon always because if you miss it the first time you'll land on a star and the next jump will be easier.

Might sound kinda silly but I’ve always loved what she told me. For me it's true. If I don't make the moon the first time I'll make a star and continue on.

lacey kaye said...

That IS really pretty, Vicki!

ERiCA said...

Have you ever failed to meet a self-imposed goal?
Bwa ha haa. Of course!

What did you do?
Moved on... Either I was no longer interested in achieving that particular goal, or I adjusted the goal to whatever my new circumstances were.

If you modify your goals, do you feel like you're cheating?
Depends. If my goal is "exercise every day" and every day I come up with a new excuse not to follow through, then yes, I'm totally cheating. But if my goals are thwarted due to no fault of my own (or at least, due to some unforseeable circumstance) then no, I don't think that's cheating at all. I think that's life.

What was the most challenging goal you ever set for yourself that you did achieve?
Ooh, tough one. Since I don't want to get too personal, I guess I'd have to say... making a living wage by working for myself. For a while there--primarily while I was draining my bank accounts and living on plastic--I didn't think it was possible. I am pleased to say I stuck with it and haven't been in danger of dipping below the poverty line for some time now. But it was tough, and remains a challenge to continue every day. Some goals are like that! =)

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens