How can that be? you ask. Well, it’s tricky. Life isn’t like a marathon, with one easily definable target: the finish line. Many of my larger, unspecified dreams (“be a writer” or “be healthy”) contain nested within them smaller, more achievable goals. This aligns with all the research about goal-setting, but leaves me open to the feeling, even once I achieve these smaller goals, that I haven’t really gotten what I came for. Yes, I have a blog. Yes, I’ve written several book manuscripts. Yes, my day job consists entirely of crafting the written word. So have I achieved my dream? Am I a “writer”? Sometimes I say yes; often it feels like no.
I recently read the executive summary for Brian Tracy’s Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible. The book looks fantastic, all about setting realistic goals aligned with who you truly are and what you really want out of life.
I took his advice and wrote down specific, measurable, metrics-based goals for what I’d like to accomplish the end of 2014. The exact weight I’d like to be six months after I push out this baby. The precise monetary target I’d like to hit by December 31. The number of products I aim to post on the Etsy shop I want to open at Thanksgiving. These are great goals, easily measured and totally achievable.
So what’s the problem? Well, on the one hand, there isn’t one. I will probably achieve these things, and they will give me a feeling of accomplishment.
On the other hand, I will look at the scale when I hit my goal weight and think: I still don’t like my hair.
I will peruse my bank statements and realize: I wish it had been more.
When I open my online shop, I’ll have about two seconds of gratification before I wonder: Where are the customers?
These thoughts are okay. They drive me to do better, push on, keep accomplishing and bettering myself. If I didn’t have these thoughts, my dreams would grow stale and pass by the wayside and I’d be left with nothing but a few past accomplishments that lose their flavor very quickly.
Yet this type of thinking poses a danger as well, limiting my ability to enjoy successes as they come and live in the present. I must be wary ingratitude for all that I have and all I can do if I put my mind to it. These are incredible gifts, and spending a year using them to better myself is an opportunity I am incredibly blessed to have. It’s important to fight the tendency to dismiss the now in favor of a never-really-much-better future. Now is incredible, and really, it’s all we have.