In my post A Year in First Line Retrospect, I highlighted a post I had made way back in the middle of the year called Happy Half-Year – Goals & Accomplishments. In that post I took an accounting of where I was with the goals I had set for myself for that year.
See, I’m big on goal-making. Yes, they might be somewhat amorphous or squishy, but I seem to thrive when I have goals to work towards, something concrete to accomplish and challenge me. That said, I don’t beat myself up (too much) when I don’t accomplish something (unless it is something really important to me.) I just carry it forward and forge ahead.
I did find it interesting when W, Ad and I were discussing the concept of goals on NYE they both came down on the same side: nope, don’t do them, but for almost the exact opposite reasons. Ad hates goals and resolutions and never makes them. “I will never ever make a goal I set for myself, simply because I made it a goal. It paralyzes me,” he said. “And in a weird way, it’s like I won’t do it just to prove that making goals is stupid, and even I can’t force myself to do something just because I say so.”I’m not quite sure what to make of that, except that yes, somehow, it fits in with his character.
On the other hand, W puts such huge pressure on himself to achieve the goal that he will do nothing else but work towards it, to the exclusion and detriment of all else, so that his world narrows down to that goal and that goal only – relationships, pleasure, fun and any other pursuits be damned. I also get the sense that achieving a goal he has set for himself gives him no true pleasure, that the simple act of having made it a goal sucks the joy from the doing of it, and that failing to achieve it would be almost debilitating to him.
Neither is a really healthy relationship with the concept of goal-setting, and viewed from that mindset, I would say that neither one of them should set goals the way I do. Obviously setting goals, for them, does more harm than good.
But see, that’s the difference in how I view goal-setting and how they view them.
In an excellent post on goals, Goals Gone Wild, the author talks about why goal-setting can be unhealthy. The very first things he talks about: demanding success, basing one’s self-worth on whether or not you have achieved a goal, and sacrificing what matters to achieve a goal, are exactly the opposite of the way I approach goal-setting. I look at my goals as yardsticks, yes, but also as signposts, guiding me and giving me direction. My desire to make those goals becomes a daily practice for me, but not the be-all and end-all of who I am and what I do. I don’t base my self-worth on the achievement of those goals. They give me guidance and a sense of accomplishment, but the accomplishment is not always in having 100% success. It is in knowing I have given myself a direction and a purpose, and am actively choosing and shaping the direction my life takes. I use them as a tool for growth, not as a cudgel to beat myself up with. As the author of the referenced article says,
“You are constantly learning and growing. Your treasures are not the trophies that sit on your shelf but the skills you are refining and the self respect that comes from making yourself a better person every day.”
“The main idea of the learning-based mindset is to evaluate every experience based on what you can learn from it. The beautiful thing about a this is that it allows you to benefit from every experience you have. There are no successes or failures, only lessons.”
I look at goal-setting from that perspective, and use them in that way, as lessons, as ways to evaluate my progress without demanding explicit success – every step is a success, and I don’t beat myself up for achieving 10% rather than 100%. I just look at what I have learned in the process and pick myself up and move on.
Okay, enough theorizing…I’m anxious to take a look at what goals I had set for myself last year, what I achieved and what I didn’t, and what direction I’d like to take in 2014!
- Erotica: create writing calendar, submit one story per month to a paying market – YES. This one is perhaps my biggest success in goal-setting, and I have already started implementing it for 2014.
- Exercise (yoga, running, hiking or biking) at least 3x week – SPORADICALLY. Sometimes for weeks at a time I did this, but (especially at the end of the year I did not. What I really liked about this goal is that it challenged me to find new ways to get exercise, and I did start a yoga practice and find a studio that I really liked, and I found that I deeply enjoy yoga and how I feel when I practice it. I know this is one I will take up again in 2014.
- Time Management: Get up 3x week with Ad to either write or exercise – NO. I just could not manage to drag myself out of bed at 5am, no matter how hard I tried. with my new work schedule, though, I may rethink this and set a new goal for 2014 in regards to time management.
- Complete Couch-to-5K program, run a 5k – NO. This is one I am disappointed in myself about. I get to about 4-5 weeks into the program and then…bleh. Fall off the wagon. But damn it, there’s always THIS year! I will eventually do this. And in the plus side, I have found an immense amount of pleasure in those first weeks of the program, in feeling my body move and respond, so overall this is a very positive thing for me.
- Finish new blog design – YES! Right here, baby. VERY proud of having accomplished this.
- Update all tags, categories & lists in new blog – About a third of the way though it. It’s a good project to keep at while I am away at housesits.
- Learn to use video software – YES! And still learning…
- Post 1 video to blog every 4-6 weeks – I could have done this, but it turns out streaming video to ya’ll eats up bandwidth, and so I made an executive decision to cut back on them due to the expense. But I feel good about this decision, and about how often I am posting them.
- Create a blogging calendar: complete & schedule Alphabets, Poly Q & A’s, Picture Requests, Scavenger Hunts, ongoing memes – NO. But not doing this was also an executive decision, based on how I write and what works for me creatively. I may revisit, however, as it was helpful during certain times. But I do love how much I learned about my own process while working through this concept.
- Create and update weekly to my author website – YES and NO. Completed site, but have not consistently updated. As I mentioned at the Half-Year, I need to re-evaluate.
- Create the Kink of the Week blog – YES!! Another accomplishment and one I am very proud of.
- Money Management: pay off one credit card, add no new credit & follow my budget – YES and NO. I have reorganized myself financially, not exactly as stated here, but in a way that makes sense and that will accomplish the underlying goal of financial independence and stability. this was a very hard one for me, and learning to be fiscally responsible will continue to be a goal I strive for.
- Education: Get my Associates of Arts degree – YES!!! Wow, I’d forgotten that I actually did this. :-)
- Work Habits: WORK at work. Blog & socialize at home – Well, YES and NO. But my job has changed drastically so this year will be a new adventure.
- Music: Buy new music, organize and create new music playlists – A little bit. An ongoing project (of pleasure.)
So there it is. I feel pretty good about what I accomplished last year. Now I need to look forward to the coming year. I’ll talk about my goals for 2014 in my next post.
Do you set goals, make resolutions? How do you feel when you achieve them, and when you don’t? Do you find them helpful, or detrimental?