July 7, 2020
With the pace I am going right now, I won't be able to hit the goal of hitting a 100 blog posts within the calendar year. I wanted to take the time to write about how this is completely okay and to reflect on some unhealthy relationships that I have with setting goals.
The whole point of this challenge is to get me to write more often and to not be afraid of sharing what I write with others. Already, I have written more in about three weeks than I have in over a year. This whole ordeal is already accomplishing what I set out to do, even if I fall short of the 100 posts in a calendar year.
Thinking about this today had me reflecting on my relationship with setting goals and how I go about reaching them. I, like many others I'm sure, have a lot of trouble setting a goal and stick to reaching it. There are moments where I have a sudden inspiration to "get my life together", so I sit down and write down a list of things that I want to accomplish. Maybe I will write down something like, "I want to be fit" or "To become a better software developer", etc. After realizing that these are too loosely defined to be attainable, I may narrow it down to something much more specific like "I want to run a sub 7 minute mile" or "I want to practice writing code 30 minutes a day". These last two goals are a step in the right direction because they have a clear and measurable goal that you can reach for.
My problem is that I can never stick with goals long term. I have had stretches of success with goals similar to the ones above. I would develop some of these habits and manage to keep them for a few weeks, sometimes a few months. Eventually though, I would drop the ball and revert back to my old habits. Why is this?
I think that my biggest problem is that I tend to treat goals as a destination instead of a guide. This is an important distinction. When someone thinks of a goal as something they have to reach, it reinforces this idea that this person will not be happy until they reach this goal. They put their nose to the grindstone and work, work, work, thinking that once they reach their objective that they will be happy. This can create tension when a person realizes how far they are from their goal. It's easy to get discouraged if you see how much farther you have to go until you hit the mark you are aiming for as well.
Instead, goals should be more like a guide line. The real focus should be on the process of reaching the goal, the journey. Forgot about the goal and lose yourself in what you are working on right now. Do not fret about the end product that you want to hit, but focus on what you are working on at this very moment. If the end goal is to program a video game, you are going to beat yourself up if you see how far away from your goal everyday. Instead, focus on that little sprite animation you want to get right. Hunt down that weird bug that occurs in a super odd scenario. Enjoy the process of what you are working in that very moment. Get into that flow state of mind. Use the goal to make sure that you are on the right path and not some gauge for measuring progress.