Own Goals

Original Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

This year I had goals.

This was new for me. I’m not typically goal-oriented about anything. But I felt that this year I needed to push myself and have a clear direction for where I was going to focus my attention.

I only realized the last few weeks that those goals didn’t match anything I really valued.

Oops.

Instead, I noticed that they tended to reflect what I thought made other people successful, or even worse — what I thought other people would think would make me a success.

These are both terrible guides for goal creation, as at no point does it factor in: what does success look like for you? I decided it’s entirely possible to view someone as successful and not want that level or type of success for yourself.

I was glad I had this epiphany of sorts, albeit a little later in the year that I would have preferred. I felt liberated in shedding myself of these ambitions. I mean, I won’t say I had adopted a “hustle or bust” attitude this year, but I took regular measured steps on my to-do list. Still, I was so glad to stop feeling the pressure, even just from myself, to work towards something that ultimately I didn’t want.

But, it was also uniquely stressful. I was now left without any direction and nothing to motivate myself but work for work’s sake. Which, let’s be real, it may sound good to just love to do the work. And I love my work. But that’s not always enough to get it done. What I lack in motivation, I make up for in deadlines (but I didn’t know what those should be anymore!)

Now goal-less, I gave myself time to just think about it. I had to sit down and actually ask myself, “what do I think success would look like for me?” (which I hadn’t thought to ask before). Once I had a better idea (which took way longer than I anticipated), I then had to decide what does that mean for my goals — what steps do I actually have to take to get to that kind of success?

I’m pleased to report that after this thought-exercise of sorts, I have a much better understanding of what I value, and a better sense of direction for the purpose of my work. I don’t know if it was a matter of my goals being wrong from the start, or if I had just changed over the course of the year. But, I definitely underestimated the value of checking in– not just with my goal progress, but with my goals themselves.

My goals may now sound silly, if I said them out loud. And I don’t want to say what they actually are, because that always seems to make them ten times harder to reach! They may not be taken seriously, or be understood by others. Or maybe when I share them, people will just go “of course, that makes perfect sense!” But either way, it doesn’t matter. Because this time, they are really mine.


Happy holidays!

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