Goals: Writing, Life, & Otherwise

Goals: Writing, Life, & Otherwise November 17, 2014

 

The Librarian by Guiseppe Arcimboldo. For those of us who feel like reading and writing makes us who we are.

I’ve blogged about taking my writing in different directions, and now I’m beginning to plan to make it happen. It’s a little scary, to say the least.

During an anxiety-driven rant on Facebook about goals and how my relationship to them is changing, I managed to solicit a great deal of solid advice on relating to goals from my friends. With their permission, I thought I’d share these quotes, in a crowd-sourced type of inspirational blog post.

While I was angsting about feeling like I need to set goals – which is quite likely a holdover from my academic background – my friend Tracie had this to offer: “Setting goals is overrated! You don’t need to know the final destination, you just need to know the next step.”

In another vote for not letting goals take over your life, Linda wrote: “I agree with ‘What’s the point of goals?’ My newer motto is ‘Be here, NOW!’ Eckhart Tolle knew what he was talking about in his book, The Power of Now! The universe has my back & I am an open channel for all the wonderful things in store for me (that I don’t even know about yet!). Feeling philosophical today.”

My friend and sex educator colleague Kate Kenfield (formerly McCombs) shared: “I am enjoying detaching from intense ‘goal setting.’ Recently, I’ve been deeply enjoying The Desire Map, which is a book about identifying your core desired feelings and using those as your anchors instead of external goals. I’m actually teaching workshops on it next year. Let me know if you ever want to chat about it.”

My friend Michael agreed: “And being too hard on yourself can be just as counter-productive in the long run. Life changes. We have to adapt. I’ve had this happen a couple times in big ways. It’s ok if we don’t find ourselves coming out of a change & automatically know what to do. Sometimes I think part of life is figuring that out as we go some, and giving ourselves the space & the understanding to do so…But I would hardly say you have no goals or direction, in the short time I’ve known ye.”

Part of the reason I’m so obsessive over goals is that I find it helps me manage my stress. Coming from a different perspective, my friend Carrie contributed: “I do fine with goals, but I find *picking* goals very stressful. It’s why I like long term projects more than short ones; all the intermediate steps are goals but I’ve picked them already, so when one is complete I can just go to the next, no debate required.”

The weird thing is that I’m finding *not* having goals to be stressful… almost as though there’s something missing in my life now that I’m shifting careers and life goals and all that stuff. I long for having something concrete to devote myself to (though look how well it turned out last time, right? for more on my change of heart about academia, see my post series over at Conditionally Accepted).

But whenever I start to feel like I’m incomplete or not good enough on my own, because I’m not setting or meeting enough goals, I get reminders that I’m a whole person, a worthwhile person, merely by virtue of existing. As my dance colleague Alima wrote: “I actually just had a conversation yesterday about this. To be mindful of the opportunity and desire for growth is great but there is a Buddhist proverb that might give you some comfort ‘to desire always leaves you wanting, detached from the now. To be fully present in this moment, not desiring but simply being, gives you complete freedom and happiness’…you’re perfect as you are!”

What I’ve learned is that I don’t need to have everything figured out in order to move forward. Getting started on something new may not feel like moving forward, and may thus cause cognitive dissonance to the side of me that’s accustomed to being super goal-oriented… but that’s okay. The more I learn to embrace the uncertainty of life, the better I’ll be able to cope with the inevitable changes and upsets that’ll occur. And, if nothing else, I have wonderful friends to help me through these transitional times.

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