Why It Feels Like You Can Never Catch Up With Your Dreams

800px-Marathon_RunnersMy dreams are constant and yet constantly changing.

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.

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2 thoughts on “Why It Feels Like You Can Never Catch Up With Your Dreams

  1. This is a very perceptive post. Most of us wait on goals, and when they come it’s a big thrill But like on Christmas, when the wrappings are strewn on the floor and we’ve played with the toys, they lose the shine of newness, and we start looking for something better. That’s human nature. It’s best not to count too much on the goals bringing us happiness, but just on being proud that we were strong/smart/determined enough to get there.

    • I couldn’t agree more! We assume the goals will change our life, but really all they do is give us a boost of success and accomplishment that does better us, but rarely “makes it all okay” the way we think hope it will. Therefore it’s SO important to contextualize those goals BEFORE we get there, so that we don’t end up being disappointed by our own successes. We should, as you point out, be proud we were able to get there and leave it at that.

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