Goal Setting: Why it Doesn't Work for Me

Saturday, March 12, 2022


Becoming a Person of Goals

For the past several years, I have been pushing myself towards becoming a person of goals. A person with a to-do list done, checked boxes and self-horn tooting included. I have been reading books on being more successful and more corporate (as a woman somehow you have to magically balance warmth with seriousness-good luck), how to check progress and get ever closer to being a successful person. However, I always find myself slipping up, falling back, gaining and losing the same 15 pounds. I get bored behaving at work, and just want to let my silly side show. I have personal issues which continue to interfere with my relationships with others (Queen of throwing people off track by not letting them know what I really think? Check!). And I just find myself wondering-am I trying to fit myself into the Western mode of being a workaholic drone without really considering what it is I want out of life?

Long ago--perhaps in my late teens or early 20s, I decided it was just enough to BE. I just wanted to exist, enjoy my kids, revel in the early dawn hours, and live the simple life. Circumstances however, later dictated that I must GO OUT AND EARN A LIVING, and that has really thrown off all that I ever tried to be. Somehow I had to balance being a mature grown up with my desire to go lie on my bed and fantasize about a favorite fictional character. I had to try and convince people I was worthy and intelligent, when my way of relating to people outside the home is through silliness and trying to make them laugh. Perhaps we all want that. I have no desire to tell others what do or control them. However, I sure as heck don't want them telling me what to do. Isn't shared space enough? Anyway, I have come to the realization that maybe I am dumb. Not school dumb. I am an underachiever in school, but I have taken enough college courses to at least know how  stack up with other people at the distinguished "elite" Missouri State University.;oP. I have learned to accept that my ideas are as good as others, it just takes a whole long time for me to dig through the muck of feelings and impressions and half-formed thoughts, and by then, everyone has moved on. Whatever. I am slow. There is a surety in slow-thinking (not to be confused with decision-making-which requires a certain unwillingness to reconsider discarded options-something I am still working on). Actually I think the healthier I become, the less I think overall, and the more I just exist. And the truth is, it doesn't really matter. 

Ticket to nowhere?

My career is going nowhere. In fact, it can't really be called a career. It is a job. There is nowhere to move up and on. I have no desire to make decisions for other able-bodied adults, nor do I wish to labor intensely enough to perfect my paperwork to the point of moving "up." Is sitting at a desk correcting IEP paperwork really moving "up?" Nope. And that's fine. I enjoy connecting with kids most days. I want to help them do better and try harder. But let's not call it a career. 

In an ideal world, my words would be amazing enough that people would desire to read them-would wade through ads to read them and I could make a living that way. Or if I must, I would have braved the counseling degree so I could become a career counselor. I used to memorize the college course books and all the paths and the classwork and internships which would take people "somewhere." That would have been a good path. But it required a 2 year degree in counseling, I just felt the counseling admissions would look in my eyes, see my brokenness, and stamp a big red NOPE with a red box (for emphasis, of course) around it on top. 

Of course, there is always becoming an astronaut. Why do we allow kids to think they actually have such options. Why aren't we honest and say, "Hey, that's for the 140+ IQ elites, who probably have connections, and can handle military training (I just can't do push ups)." Why do we pretend kids can have amazing lives, when most of us are just going to have jobs. No, I said that wrong. We can have amazing LIVES. We just can't all have amazing careers. And the truth is, I don't have a burning desire for answers. I just want to experience space. I am much less deep than I like to pretend.

Let's Focus, Please

So I am getting off track. Goals. I have been thinking about how setting goals doesn't work for me. I mean, I used to set goals with the praxis tests. I will get X teaching certification. I'd pay the fee, take the test, add on the certification until one day I realized--I was just reliving the test prep anxiety the years and years of schooling had engrained into my skin. I had just become accustomed to that anxious feeling of proving myself, proving myself, feeling good, and then ... nothing. Nothing comes of it. I was just stuck in the pattern of schoolthink. I guess I am doing the same things with those Wordle games. Just proving to myself I have a brain cell or two banging around in there. What do you get when two brain cells bang? A synapse. Ahahahaha.

And now I am thinking, what if I just want to come home wrap in a blanket, sip a cup of hot tea (LOLOL, y'all know it's coffee), and stare at the everchanging cloud formations in the western sky. Does that make me less than? 

What's Happening Now? Why?

Am I finally getting over the middle-aged hump and returning to my Zen roots? Is this just some excerpt from a near-death-experience book rearing its head inside my head (I love that stuff). I read an interesting article on the Forbes website, by Jennifer Cohen, The Most Successful People Don't Set Goals. In this article, it was suggested that rather than setting goals, it might be more prudent and effective to set intentions. And I love that thought. I can't lose a pound today, but I can set the intention of eating healthily. I can't change the world or turn a student's life around, or suddenly start liking someone I am secretly hoping will be swallowed by a hole in the ground (sorry, it's the devil inside that makes me think such things), but I can set the intention of being more present, or making someone feel valued, or looking for the good in the person who really needs to be swallowed (come on, Mother Earth, do your thing!).

And the amazing thing about intentions is they can easily change. Today I intend to eat healthy, tomorrow I intend to live life fully. They can be short-term or long term. They are easy ways to become your better self without a checklist and time limit. And I love that. 

So Anyway

I had much more to say, but I feel a cold trying to get under my skin and my body at the breaking point. I am tired. The kids are staying with their big sister in an hour and as much as I desire to get out (Barnes and Noble and Renaissance books), I also strongly desire to take my two little single serving Cabernets and curl up with a comfort movie ( I have been craving rewatching Sherlock-I JohnLock SO HARD, but I would have to pay now that it is off Netflix-gross), and just going to sleep early.

We shall see. My intention was to say something with depth and clarity-well, there is always tomorrow.

Post a Comment