Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Goals: Good or Bad?

Last week I set a goal for myself to write 5 pages a day, six days a week. I posted my intentions publicly in several Facebook groups and committed myself to report my progress each day. I didn't meet my goal every day, but I did write 25 pages, which was 25 more than I wrote the week before. So, that's awesome. Goals are great motivators and can help keep us focused on important things.

But I noticed something else too. As soon as I sat down and actually made a goal, the guilt set in. I went to bed almost every night feeling like a failure. Like I could never do enough. Either I wrote, but the housework didn't get done, or I went grocery shopping and made sure homework got finished, but didn't get the writing in. And so on, and so on... I began to feel again like I was never good enough. (A feeling that had largely left me when I wasn't so concerned about writing a certain amount each day or week. Of course, I wasn't writing anything!) I felt this way despite the fact that by and large I was successful in meeting my goals and taking care of the family.

Goals can be a two-edged sword.

So, while I think it's important to have goals and be accountable for reaching them, it is also helpful to realize that they are just goals. Not laws. Not life or death. Not living  up to a goal does not make me a failure. After all, I'm getting more done than I would otherwise. I just have to keep reminding myself that I can't do it all. I can do what I can. And that's okay.


Terry W. Ervin II said...

Setting goals is different than setting achievements. Goals allow us to stretch and strive and eventually achieve.

It's not much of a goal to make 9 of 10 lay ups. But 9 of 10 foul shots? Maybe so. Of course setting a goal of 9 out of 10 midcourt shots... I think you're shooting for the foul shot...which is just about right (or write). Hang in there and persevere.

Angie said...

Thanks, Terry!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Setting just the right sized goals is hard for me. I have a tendency to set them too high, and not take into account what's going on in the rest of my life. I set a goal of revising two chapters this week. I've revised half of one. However, in the midst of the day today, I decided to give myself a break. It's a busy week. My goal for next week (when life is less busy) is to revise three and a half chapters.

Angie said...

Good for you, Tyrean. I've had to adopt the same attitude.

Yolanda Renee said...

You should never feel guilty over setting a goal and not achieving it in the deadline you set. Move the deadline - you're in charge!
I've used goals all my life and love achieving them but have never felt guilty, delayed, but never guilty! I write to do lists daily and sometimes I check each one off by the end of the day - most times not. I just start a new one the next day. Enjoy what you do and use goals as a sight line, not so much a deadline. Then go for it and feel wonderful - 25 pages is awesome! You're moving forward - be proud! KUDOS to you!