It’s that time of year again. The time that we all make our goals and resolutions and swear that this time we will stick to them. Or we laugh at everyone making goals and resolutions and swear that you’ll never catch us making such stupid arbitrary-date-related promises to ourselves.
I found myself not wanting to write down goals at all today. No resolutions, no goals for January, no goals for the week. I didn’t want anything written down at all. And I couldn’t figure out why for a minute but I worked it out in the end.
I didn’t want to write them down, because if I didn’t achieve them, didn’t cross them off the list or give them a big tick, then I would feel that I had failed. And I hate feeling like I’ve failed.
I don’t think I’m alone in this.
For some people writing the goals is fine, but they don’t want to tell anyone their goals because if someone asks, ‘how is that project going?’ that’s when they will feel that sense of failure.
But we have to have goals.
For some of us goals are given by our workplace or by our school and we can use those to track your progress. But if you don’t have that, then you need to come up with goals yourself. If you don’t have any goals it’s a road to depression I think – you’re not going anywhere and it doesn’t feel good.
This morning the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have goals. I had plenty of goals for January floating around in my head. I just didn’t want to commit them to paper. I didn’t want to make a target that I would fail to reach. I didn’t want it written there in black and white.
But the problem with that was that the goals swirling around my head were nebulous, they were unformed and shapeless. While I removed the risk of failure, I also removed the feeling of success. And I actually think that without those concrete goals written down I would have a sense of failure anyway, a fear of something I’d missed.
So what did I do?
It’s taking me a while to process this but I have been reading over and over again in the last year an amazing concept. Amazing. I tell you, it’s life changing.
You can change your goals.
You can adjust them.
If you are working through the month of January and you find that you’re not able to achieve that ambitious list that you had at the beginning of the month, that’s fine. If you had something to aim for, you got half-way there and you couldn’t quite summon up the energy or strength to push through to the end, that’s ok.
Change the goal.
Change the deadline.
It’s ok. It’s fine. It’s not failure.
It’s just adjustment.
That’s part of the process. You make goals. Set them somewhere. And as you move towards them you chart your progress and make adjustments.
It has to work this way because let’s face it, life isn’t straight-forward. You could be moving really well towards a goal and then get the flu. Or someone close to you passes away. Or, on the brighter side, a friend comes to visit from overseas and you need to make time to visit with them. Any number of interruptions and stumbling blocks can get in the way of a goal and there’s no way you can know beforehand what’s going to happen.
So my suggestion this new year is that you make goals, goals that are appropriate to what you can achieve right now, but hold them lightly, and continually adjust.
And may we all feel like we’re making progress as we head through 2018.