Setting Goals

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Last year I sat down with my notebook and took several hours to plot out my goals for the coming year. I wrote down some big goals in major areas of my life, broke them down into sub-goals, and then made monthly goals. I was so proud of myself and felt that it was going to be a productive year for sure.

This year I didn’t do any of that.

I didn’t write down any goals for the year. I didn’t list all the important areas of my life and decide what I wanted to accomplish in each area. I don’t keep a monthly checklist that I use to make sure I’m staying on track.

Why?

I start off strong at the beginning of each year. I tell myself, “This will be the year I accomplish everything I’ve planned to do.”  And then life happens. A flood of unexpected things hit me the moment the calendar turns Jan 2nd

Then in February I find out about three great opportunities, but I feel guilty saying yes because I know they’ll interfere with reaching the goals I made two months ago.

Before I know it, it’s the beginning of March and I’m hopelessly behind on my goals. I reassess, re-write the goals, only to repeat the process a few months later.

At the end of the year, I almost always look back, proud of the things I’ve been able to do, but never able to shake off that guilty feeling that always comes from not completing my original goals; I never do even half the things I set out to do at the beginning of the year.

But at the end of 2011, I started thinking. Aren’t I doing to myself the very same thing I don’t want to do to my kids? Aren’t I really setting up for myself a “curriculum” of plans that don’t take into consideration the randomness of life, leave room to explore wonderful opportunities that come up, or the ability to decide that something just isn’t working that well and move on to something that does?

So does that mean that I’m just going to sit on my butt and do nothing but watch American Idol all day (as if homeschooling moms could do that anyway, right)?

No!!! (Well, there might be a little Idol watchingJ)

I want to do some amazing things this year, but I know that won’t happen if I set up goals that I MUST follow a year in advance.  I want to follow my interests and complete projects that I’m really passionate about.

I’ve found that if I focus my time on a few projects or things I really care about, I wake up excited to work on them.  I never have my day totally planned out. I might have some appointments or meetings I need to keep, or responsibilities or deadlines I need to take care of by a certain time (and I really try to limit these as much as possible), but other than that I’m free to structure time the way that works best for that day.

So how am I going to make this work on a day-to-day basis?

  • Not have a specific date that I want to complete a project. If it’s a big project, I’m just going to work on it when I’m at my best and when I have the time. For example, if it’s a writing project, I might get to a point when the project is almost over that I’ll schedule a date when it’s to be released, but I won’t plan it in detail at the beginning.

 

  • Not be upset with myself if I don’t work on a project for a few days or longer. When I used to set strict goals and didn’t reach them, I always felt like a failure. I’m the type of person that can spend hours and hours on a project for weeks straight and then have to put it away for a month.  But then when I wanted to come back to it again, I’d feel awful for getting so “behind schedule” that I’d give up on it completely.

 

  • Feel free to take the project in any direction that seems best, even if it’s not what I had envisioned from the beginning.  I used to have specific monthly and weekly goals for reaching those bigger goals. But they wouldn’t make room for new info that came up, new opportunities that were even better than my original project or times when sickness or other things stopped me from doing any work at all.

 So, there you have it. My year of not setting goals. It’ll be a year of waking up every day excited to see what they day will bring, working passionately on what excites me and striving to achieve great things – just what I need and want to model for my kids!

 Photo Credit: David Reber’s Hammer Photography

 What do you think? Do you like setting goals; does it work really well for you? (If it does than don’t stop doing what’s working!) Do you get down on yourself for not reaching goals and then just quit altogether?

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