Reevaluating Your Goals
So it’s February. Already. Do you know what that means? That means you’ve had almost six weeks to get started on your 2017 year goals–and six month to wonder exactly what you were thinking when you made them.
I know, right? WHAT were you thinking?
Some people don’t make goals at all, some people make too many goals, some make too lofty of goals, while others don’t make goals past lunchtime.
I’m one of those that likes to make a lot of goals, as I like to see my progress and track it. Bullet Journaling has given me a fantastic way to track it, by the way.
But I make big and little goals, and I really hate giving up on those goals. However, about a month into things, it’s pretty obvious which goals are working and which are not. Which ones you’re committed to and which ones you are not.
You have three options for your 2017 goals at this point:
- refocus it
- recommit to it
- give it up
And believe me, all of these are appropriate options at different times in your life. It’s up to you to determine when each one is appropriate, and that requires a little bit of Shakespeare:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet
1. refocus your goal
A lot of the time the reason we don’t make progress on our goals is because they are not high enough priority to us.
For example, I’d love to quit drinking soda. But I like the taste, I like how refreshing it is, and it’s a habit. So I have about three things working against me, and only about one reason to quit: soda isn’t healthy.
So other than my health (which is a great reason to give something up, by the way), I don’t have much reason to quit drinking soda. What this really means is that it’s not high enough on my priority list to quit. When it’s my habitual, go-to drink, it’s difficult to choose something else and continually work at making a new habit without a strong reason to do so. Now, if I were told by a doctor that soda was giving me cancer, or was creating other health problems for me, I absolutely would have a significant reason to quit (in my mind), and I could do it, I’m sure.
Perhaps this is the habit of writing for you. Maybe you want to be a writer and made it your New Year’s resolution to “write more” or even “write a novel.” That’s great. Those are GREAT goals. But are they high enough priority to you?
change your goal
What if you change your goal a bit, refocus it? Maybe for me, I could start with drink 1 soda every 2 days, so only 3-4 sodas a week. That’s improvement, and it’s trackable. It’s refocused, and it’s a step in the right direction.
So if you’re struggling to “write a novel” or “write more,” maybe give yourself a weekly or daily goal. Write 500 words a day. Or write 1000 words a week. Start somewhere. And make it a new habit. Do something on it every day, even if it’s 5 words or 5 sentences.
be less ambitious
Or maybe you made the goal to “write a novel in two months” and you’ve already realized your goal is too ambitious. Maybe you’re so swamped this year that this novel won’t get written until maybe July–if you’re lucky. That’s okay.
Life sometimes gets in the way, and this is when you must sit down and decide two things:
- how important is this goal to you? and
- what is a more realistic approach to meeting your goal?
Then go in to your calendar and list of goals and rewrite your goal. Maybe it will be “write a novel in 6 months.” That’s still awesome. Go forth and do it.
2. recommit to it
Sometimes we really don’t have an excuse for not meeting our goals. Sometimes we’ve simply written down something we’ve wanted to do for years and tell ourselves “this is the year I’m going to write a novel.” But it’s February already and in 31 days, you haven’t written 1 word on your novel.
Stop right now. Take out that list of goals, resolutions, or dreams, whatever you called them, and set it in front of you. I’ll wait.
Let’s reevaluate them.
You say it’s your lifelong dream to be a writer but you haven’t written anything in the past year? Hmm. You’ve got some work to do, sonny.
You need to give yourself a serious talking to, and you need to evaluate some legit steps on what it takes to be a writer.
Number one: writers write.
Yes, it’s that simple. Now you say you want to be writer, and you’re convinced of that. Okay great. Then pick up your pen, get rid of the distractions, and start writing that story you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to write for the past five years.
And while you’re at it, write this out too: “I am a writer. Writers write. So I will write my novel this year, and I will write every day until it’s done.”
If you have to, start every day’s writing with that manifesto. Then get on to your own story. Do it. Do it now.
And if you are already making up excuses for why you can’t write today, then write this too: “Writing ten words takes five seconds. I have five seconds in my day to write.”
Yes, some days it’s going to be tough to write, tough to find a chunk of time, tough to muster the energy and strength, and even tougher to find the motivation. But you are a writer. You go write.
3. give it up
Maybe you’ve reached this number and you’re shaking your head. Maybe you’re looking at your story idea or your partially finished draft and you detest it. Maybe you have no interest in writing itself except that you once told someone about this story idea you had and they told you to write it.
Stop. Put down your pen, and close your journal. Grab your mouse, and close your word processor.
Not everyone is a writer. And not every idea is worth pursuing. There is no shame in setting aside your writing aspirations in favor of something you are more passionate about. Repeat after me: “There is nothing wrong with setting aside something I am not passionate about.”
Unless you are writing for your life, or writing to support yourself, there is nothing wrong with not writing. Your number one reason to write should be for the pure joy of it.
Yes, we writers are an odd lot. We talk a lot about how much we hate writing sometimes. But the reason we all write is because deep down, we love the struggle. We love overcoming those struggles. But if you don’t love writing, and you don’t care about overcoming those struggles, then let it go. We all have to let some of our dreams go, and we have to realize that sometimes we aren’t made to be what our dream once was. Go forth and find a new dream. It’s okay.
I know, I got kinda philosophical there at the end, didn’t I? But remember that our goals and dreams have to come from our hearts.
If we want to achieve these goals and want to reach our dreams, we have to first recognize that these dreams have to come from somewhere deep inside us. That place is what motivates us to go forward and achieve when the times get tough. It’s what motivates us to get back on the wagon when we’ve fallen off.
Whether it’s for your mental health, physical health, or something else, take stock of why you’re striving for your goals. If it doesn’t ultimately please you, or make a difference in your life, then cross it out and move on. There is no shame in doing so. (And don’t forget about the time you save from not working on or thinking of something you don’t really care about!)