With all of swirling talk of resolutions and goals, I worry. My goals are set and vision board cut and pasted. With those critical first pieces done, now I worry some that my goals aren’t big enough or that they’re too big. I worry most that this year will be just like last year. I worry that if I don’t make some magical things happen this week- or today- that any chance of reaching my goals will evaporate. That an achingly slow start out of the gate will cause me to lose interest and motivation with every call not immediately returned, with every unretweeted tweet, and every mile that isn’t faster than the last.
There is a certain amount of cooperation from the universe needed to pull this shit off. I need clients to do certain things, readers to respond in certain ways, colleagues to step up, and people I haven’t even met yet to appear. It’s a choreographed circus. All. About. Me. Right? You see, I don’t want to be disappointed. So if everyone could just show up and play their assigned part, that’d be just awesome. Thanks.
Setting goals is energizing. It’s exciting. I enjoy suspending my skepticism for a couple of hours and allowing myself the time and space to dream. While goal-setting sparks a lot of positive feelings, two negative ones follow. Fear (that I can’t do the hard work needed to achieve them or won’t do it) and self-centeredness (me, me, me) are a part of the package.
Goal-setting dredges up old fears and gives my companion fears (those always hanging around) an invitation to speak. When I’m really reaching, I’m able to create some new ones to add to the collection. Goal-setting also amps up how much attention I’m paying to myself—to the exclusion of other people and events.
Both of these conditions suck mightily but can be managed. First, I have to acknowledge that they’re happening and second, take action that moves me towards the positive goal.
The acknowledging part is simply noticing and (not so simply) re-scripting the dialog in my head. Recognizing a fear is easy enough but it’s not a “check the box” kind of event. I often need to remind myself on a weekly—sometimes daily- basis that those thoughts that are telling me to slow down, stop, or turn around aren’t typically helpful warnings. They’re little fears popping up that need to be acknowledged then consciously ignored or stamped out.
The taking action part is where my plan comes in. One thing I know to be true about myself is that I can work a plan. When something is written down step-by-step, I got it. I might change the steps along the way but I have a plan. For this reason, creating a simple little plan to get me started on each of my goals is critical. Without it, I can give you the probability of success right now and it’d be zero.
A note on self-centeredness: I couldn’t talk myself of anyone out there out of being self-centered. It’s who we essentially are and, alas, is the point of setting personal goals to begin with. The issue is when we set a self-centered goal that cannot be achieved without another person’s action. These goals don’t serve you in any helpful way and typically are just a setup for disappointment. An example would be me setting a goal to increase my twitter following by 100 people. It’d be nice but there isn’t anything I can personally do to make people click “follow.” I can, however, write tweets that are amusing or helpful to me and believe they will be for other with similar interests. So the goal really is about writing fun tweets and letting go of how other people respond.
I hope you did or are planning to write down goals for 2016. I believe the process is absolutely critical—though not free from its own pitfalls of fear and self-centeredness. By paying attention to what’s going on in my head, I feel better able to do the hard work needed to bring this year’s set into reality.