What is the point of goals?
Last month I was cutting it very close on two of my yearly goals. I wanted to run 1000 miles and I wanted to read 25 books. This last minute close call caused me to spend time reflecting on why I set these goals and why I still felt it was important to meet them.
Running 1000 miles was a good way to keep on track with running. Would I have been less fit had I ran 979 miles? Why not just run as much as I could in a year without counting? Running 1000 miles was a reason not to skip a run that I had no good reason to skip, but it gave me the flexibility to do other things when I wanted to.
The reading goals was especially perplexing as reading is a hobby that I do for fun (and also to learn). Why attach a goal to that? Statistically, I’m already going to miss almost every great book there is in the world. If I read 25 a year, I might have 1000 books left to read in my life. If I only read 10, I only get to read 400. That’s a huge difference! Again, it reminded me to spend more time with my nose in a book and less time reading random bits on the internet.
Leslie challenges the point of goals, because some of us feel guilty when we don’t achieve them. On the other hand, Bridgette says that goals shouldn’t be things you can easily achieve. “Because if you choose something that is already within your grasp, it’s not a goal, it’s just a to-do item.” Personally, I disagree with them both!
I don’t feel guilty if I don’t meet a goal. I reflect on why, then I move on. I’m a great at rationalization! And I usually still did better than I would have with no goal at all.
I typically set my goals that within my grasp. How far can one push? If I want to run more miles, I have to give up the time it takes to run those. This will impact another goal! Some goals are more in the maintenance stage, and that is OK. Sometimes I push myself to do new things, but I also push myself to keep on the path I’m on.
When thinking of ideas for my 2013 goals, a lot of ideas ran through my head. I could….
- earn extra income, outside my day job
- do more yoga and master a handstand! Or, uh, a headstand.
- volunteer more time and donate more money
- run MORE miles than 2012
- read MORE books than 2012
- cook more meals
- spend more time with friends or making new friends
- see more movies
- read the news every day
- learn a new language or take an art class.
- take a photo every single day and learn how to do real photo editing
- write more in my blog, or try to do something new with my writing
- learn how to tango!
I can do any of those things, but I can’t do all of those things. In fact, I find that I can’t do very many of them, at least not well! I have tons I want to do, but I’m having trouble figuring out to focus on in 2013. I like to have something new to work, but can’t pinpoint would make me happier rather than just busier. So… maybe my 2013 goals will be a little more boring than usual. Is this because I am getting OLD?!?!
For me, goals are how I translate my priorities into day-to-day actions. It’s how I track if I’m spending my energy on things that are important to me. I think about which goals will make me happier, and what things would be nice, but can’t be priorities right now. I think about how much I’ve been able to do in the past, and I try to avoid putting too much on my plate. Goals work really well for me.
Do goals work for you? Do you like to set goals that are within your reach?