Well, I could explain my absence with the usual “I’ve been really busy” (I have), “Time just got away from me” (how is it 2019??), or “I just forgot” (partially true), but the truth is I haven’t been feeling particularly motivated the last few months. Not to tackle more goals, write about it, or do much of anything really.
It’s been a bit of a rough patch for me in terms of my anxiety and general mental health, along with some not-so-good days involving chronic fatigue and pain. Also, I find that although I love the holidays, I always end up feeling run down and stressed out – I KNOW I am not the only one out there in the same frayed boat! It becomes so important to practice “self-care”, but the chances of actually doing something that requires action (even something as simple as picking up a coloring book instead of my phone) only continue to decrease as I feel worse…it’s a real chicken-and-the-egg problem.
There has also been a lot going in professionally, as I started a second job (more on that later!) and have been slowly shifting away from the field I’ve been focused on for all of my adult life. This is a cause/effect of reevaluating my priorities and what I need out of a career at almost 30 versus when I was 22. Some of these priorities are practical (i.e. ability to work from home if needed) and some are more values-based. While I know turning 30 doesn’t mean I’m “too late” to pursue other things, it does add a layer to the decision-making process.
If you are also someone who lives with anxiety or love someone who does, you are probably aware that making decisions is not our strongest suit – in fact, we absolutely suck at it. Why would people so good at researching and evaluating all possible scenarios be so bad at decisions? Because we are so good at researching and evaluating all possible scenarios! “Trusting your gut” and “just pick one and see what happens” are NOT pieces of advice that apply to people with anxiety – my “gut” tells me to stay at home and cuddle with my dog 90% of the time and the other 10% that might be productive is usually shot down by my brain (“Yeah that SEEMS like a good idea, but what if x, y, or z happens?!”). So in short, this is not a process that I can tack onto a To Do List and cross off when done, not just because of my anxiety but also because it’s relating to bigger, life-ier things.
Essentially, that’s where I’m at with the entire Goals List.
Some backstory: I recently came across a great YouTube channel called Break the Twitch, which focuses on how to live an intentional and meaningful life in practical ways. I found many of the videos valuable, but none more so than this one:
I highly recommend watching it yourself, but the basic idea is most people approach goal-setting very ambitiously without keeping in mind what is realistic and actually meaningful. Now, as someone who helps people set goals for a living, you would think I’d be pretty good at avoiding these pitfalls myself…but a recent look at my THIRTY goals for the year shows otherwise.
Instead of taking on 4-5 goals at a time, I decided on “Thirty by 30” because it sounded really cool and I was SURE I’d be able to do it all mostly because I didn’t want to “fail” at the project. Soooo not great motivations there.
Some of my goals are based on doing something every day for the whole year, meaning that not doing that habit for even one day means I couldn’t technically cross it off the list. Well, I can assure you that I haven’t done ANY of those goals every single day since my birthday in September, so those are essentially irrelevant at this point.
I also added new goals as they came up, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but also can be hard to keep my priorities straight. For example, I had a great time doing a drum circle on my California trip so immediately added “Learn how to play another musical instrument” to my goals list…which apparently I’ll have the time to do while also learning a new language? Maybe that’s technically possible, but it doesn’t mean it’s doable for me with my current schedule and commitments. Also, do I really NEED to learn an instrument, or can I take the experience on a more basic level and make a goal to try more new things that initially make me anxious or nervous? One phrase I took with me from my time in California is “Just Show Up” and it’s been helping me to get out of my anxiety-bubble for things as simple as going to a gathering at a friend’s house. Maybe “Just Show Up” is an all-encompassing goal that better aligns with my priorities?
Essentially, I realized the pitfalls in my goals list and how an ambitious mindset can be both motivating and discouraging. I look at my list now and think “There is NO WAY I’m getting all this done in nine months” and that’s not helpful to me. There are also things on the list that are logistically not going to happen (i.e. we’re postponing our plans for a cruise in order to focus on paying down debt) or do not need to be definitively completed just because I’m turning 30 (like deciding if I want to run my own business at some point). While there are still goals I connect with and think are doable, I will be evaluating my goals in detail over the next couple of weeks and editing as needed.
So, “Thirty by 30” may end up being “Twenty by 30” or even “Ten by 30″…and I need to learn to be OK with that. As I mentioned previously (and need constant reminders of), sometimes I lose sight that this is MY project and not something I’m doing for a grade or because it’s a job requirement. There’s no point in doing it if I’m going to fixate on it not being a neat and tidy process with a snappy title, probably increasing the chance I won’t end up doing ANYTHING more on the list. After all, my Big Goal is to leave behind beliefs, attitudes, and mindsets that have plagued me in my twenties so that I can start my next decade mentally, physically, socially, and professionally healthier. My next step: How do I rewrite my goals (and ACT on them) so that can actually happen? I don’t have it figured it out yet, but I promise I’ll keep you in the loop as I (hopefully!) do.
Thanks as always for reading – Happy New Year!