March 3, 2014

Deciding On (And Committing To) New Goals

How do you get motivated to do something? You set a goal, commit to it (preferably publicly), and then take all the little baby steps needed to achieve it. But what happens when you can’t even think of a goal you care enough about to achieve? Well, you get stuck in a rut – and unfortunately, this is where I’m currently finding myself.

Perhaps I set off the chain of events myself through inadvertent sandbagging when I declared that my big picture theme for the year was to settle. I defended the choice of seemingly-unambitious words by talking about what settling meant to me (it’s a positive thing!), but right now, I feel like I’m even further from settled now than I was when I made that goal – and in fact, am feeling completely unsettled and lost. Furthermore, it seems like every time I think I’m hitting rock bottom, something else goes wrong that pulls my attention away from the personal stuff and onto logistical challenges that are taking hours and hours to solve. (Like my car getting broken into and a lot of personal/irreplaceable/expensive things stolen. Or some stupid tax issues that mean I’m likely out a couple thousand dollars until spring 2015.) I’m really frustrated that I can’t seem to catch a break lately, and I’m just clinging to the fact that it’s finally now March, and I am officially moving into my new home in Colorado in 2.5 weeks. Realistically, moving probably isn’t going to be quite the panacea that I wish it will be… but if my goal is just for things to get better than they are now, I think it will help a lot.

Sparkler Wedding
One very positive thing to share: getting to see my former roommate marry the man of her dreams in Austin this weekend in an incredibly personal and moving ceremony. This picture sums up the joy of the occasion pretty well!

In the meantime, I’m working with an amazing boss at work who’s a huge proponent of goal setting and personal development, and he’s put forth an awesome “six by six” challenge for our team. Each of us identified six goals that we would commit to achieving in six weeks, two of which would be personal goals and four of which would be professional goals (though not necessarily related to our project). The idea is that we’ll have regular check-ins, both for accountability and to see how we can help each other achieve our goals, and that at the end of six weeks, we’ll have hopefully accomplished some great things that might have fallen by the wayside if we hadn’t paused to make them priorities. I was so excited when he first proposed the concept, and have spent hours in the last two months thinking and rethinking my goals for the challenge.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned to start this post, I had a really tough time trying to figure out what goals to commit to. If you come up with a goal that isn’t that meaningful or important to you, you’re probably not going to really work hard to achieve it, no matter what external motivation/accountability there is. I kept coming up with goals that sounded good, but when I thought about what would need to go into accomplishing them, I was significantly less excited. I knew that those wouldn’t be goals that I’d be passionate about or want to put all that much effort into – and while I could achieve them, they probably weren’t the best ones to pick. We set our goals as a team last week, and I did my best to make them good ones, but over the weekend, I decided I probably need to change a few of my goals to fit my current priorities. Now that I’ve finally cemented the following list of goals to be completed by April 6, I thought perhaps I’d commit by sharing some of my more personal ones with all of you:

1. Work out for at least ten minutes a day, no matter what. Ten minutes really isn’t that much, but I feel like lately I’ve had a bit of an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to workouts, particularly when I’m working out first thing in the morning. If I’m going to sleep through my alarm for spin class, I don’t bother to reset it for a short workout at the hotel gym – I seem to just be setting it for the latest possible time to try to get allthesleep. I’m hoping that knowing I have to work out for at least ten minutes will motivate me to not snooze my alarm at all, since “skipping” my workout will really just mean an extra 20 minutes of sleep instead of an extra hour. That little bit makes all the mental difference!

2. Give up cheese. This one happens to stem from the fact that Lent starts on Wednesday and I was planning to give up cheese anyway starting then. Plus, it replaces a goal I decided on last week but have already failed, about cutting back on drinking. (Sorry I’m not sorry that now is not the best time for me to give up alcohol.)

3. Meet new people. Okay, so this is an edited-for-the-blog goal that actually encompasses two of the work goals on the professional side, and you’ll just have to trust me when I say that each of them is SMART and totally doable within the six week timeframe. Simplifying it to this wording on my blog also reminds me that meeting new people and networking are things that I also need to focus on in my personal life. Right now I can use all the friends I can get, especially since I’ll be officially living in a new city pretty soon.

4. Implement new goal-setting practices and overhaul team meetings. Inspired by this awesome post on How to Run a Remote Team Standup Meeting, I want to overhaul some of my meetings to see if I can make them more effective and  productive. Meetings can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how they’re used, and I want to make sure that any meetings I’m in charge of are valuable to the attendees and serve a purpose.

(There is one more professional goal on my list but it’s not really relevant to the blog, so I’m omitting it. Ah, the joys of trying to keep blog life and my full-time job as separate as possible…)

So with any luck (okay, and some actual dedication and work too), I should be able to stick to my six goals for the next six weeks. And by then, life might hopefully be in a better place too.


8 thoughts on “Deciding On (And Committing To) New Goals”

  1. Sorry to hear of the logistical hassles! But 6 goals in 6 weeks is too much…FOCUS is the key to achieving goals, and you can only have one top priority and three top three priorities! In fact, it’s better to have three goals for three weeks, and then achieve them and move on to the next three. With 6 – whether it’s actual goals to achieve or habits you are looking to form, which seems to be the case with some of these – better to do 1 – 3 at a time and move on once those are achieved.

    1. Agreed, but I think it’s okay to have multiple goals if they’re all in different areas. For example, working out daily is something very different to think about than working on a proposal to sell new work, and I think about them at very different times.

  2. I feel like I’m reading something I wrote (although you said it much more eloquently). I’ve been feeling the exact same way lately. I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time! It WILL get better, I promise. My problem is that once things start going badly, then I start feeling sorry for myself, and then I just keep spiraling down. I’ve been trying to do positive things for myself and for others as much as I can…and it really does lift me up a little bit. It probably sounds silly and like something that little and vague can’t make a difference, but I’ve noticed it has. Reaching out to friends helps. And reading, if you can make the time!

    1. I’ve been reaching out to friends and reading a lot in the last few days, and you’re absolutely right – that has made me feel SO MUCH better! I think being productive and feeling in control goes a long way.

  3. Remember that settling is more a state of mind than a state of place. Developing the mental attitude of serenity goes a long way to being settled regardless of what one’s life looks like.

    I suspect you are a lot closer to being at that pleasant settled place than you give yourself credit for…but then what do I know?

    1. GREAT point about it being more a state of mind than a place… unfortunately, the state of mind part is even more lacking than the physical home! Hopefully that starts to get better soon.

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