On unmet goals, and being human.

asli-yilmaz-350054I just unearthed a Trello board (a to-do list of sorts) that I wrote about a year and a half ago, with all sorts of goals for my business (specifically, for the last half of 2016 and all of 2017). While I accomplished a couple of those goals, I didn’t achieve the vast majority. My first reaction was, OUCH – it was painful to see these aspirations laid out, unaccomplished. Then came the stream of thoughts courtesy of KFUKD radio: you’re not good at this, you’re lazy, you’re incompetent, you can’t run a business, etc. Commercial-free shame!

When I was able to take a step back from my emotional response, I could see a few things: I can attribute a lack of strategy and consistency to all of these unmet goals. Using the SMART goal framework, my goals were specific and measurable, but debatably achievable, not entirely relevant, and definitely not time-bound (I set broad spans of time to accomplish them, without building smaller milestones in). I didn’t outline a strategy for how I’d achieve them; I simply named the goals themselves. Naming goals is a great place to start, but I can recognize now that I fell short in breaking them down into actionable steps, and taking those steps consistently.

And this learning is SO OBVIOUS, right? Like, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. But the application can be a trickier piece to nail down.

Also, life has happened in the last year and a half, and like all years and a half, it’s been messy. I’ve grappled with anxiety and depression, getting sick consistently from November 2016 – March 2017, and one hell of an election hangover. Not to mention the oppressive systems that we all operate within, that affect each of us to hugely varying degrees. This is the stuff of life: the predictable and unpredictable crap that shows up without knocking, and doesn’t wait for you to invite it in. Like you and everyone else on the planet, I’m working within the framework of being a human, which can be deeply frustrating and disappointing and awkward. Yet here we are.

Another thing I noticed was that all of the goals I DID achieve were ones where I reached out to others: for help, for encouragement, for advice, and for connections. I WISH THIS WAS NOT TRUE. The deeply independent part of me wants to do everything on my own, without help. It’s part of why I started my own business! But time and again, I’ve learned that this isn’t the most effective or efficient way to get things done. It also runs against my core desire to connect with others and build relationships, which has, so far, been the greatest joy of my life. Reaching out has consistently produced better results (both tangibly and intangibly, for my business and my heart + head + spirit).
Is there a moral to this story? I’m not sure, but here are my takeaways:
  • It’s okay to grieve unmet goals. It’s okay to be sad, and frustrated with yourself and / or your circumstances for a bit. Loss is loss, and any meaningful loss is worth grieving.
  • Strategy (specifically, small action steps) and consistency get me closer to achieving my goals.
  • Life is currently and will always be messy, and I need to account for that when I set goals.
  • Reaching out to others is probably the best possible thing I can do for my business and my general well-being.

What I want to explore next:

  • What kind of accountability do I need to ensure I actually take the action steps I’ve identified?
  • What are the best, most natural ways I can reach out to those in my community, and those whom I don’t yet know?

What’s your relationship with goals? What happens when you don’t meet them? How do you set yourself up for success in achieving your goals?


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