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.