Sometimes, I could be a serial goal non-achiever, and honestly, it isn't something I am ashamed of. At the beginning of every year, I set goals because “that’s what I am supposed to do” and because “everybody is doing it” – but at the end of the year, chances are that I wouldn’t have achieved up to a quarter of the things on the list. I pretend that maybe it is something I did wrong that led to such outcome – perhaps I didn’t pray hard enough or make enough effort towards achieving such goals, or maybe I set the wrong goals. I also pretend that next year January, I will do the same damn thing and miraculously, achieve all the things on my list. I even go the extra mile of making excuses for God, such as that “it is not God’s timing for me” or that “God has better plans for me” to feel better about the goals I wrote down and failed to achieve.
Can you relate? Probably yes and before you jump off the hook of this post, read the whole thing, trust me, there is a good ending to it!
I often make the joke that I start my year around March and end in November, later and earlier than everyone else. It is a joke, but it’s a serious one – that way, I can pretend that these year ending/starting shenanigans people are all wrapped up about plus valentine’s day doesn’t exist in my dictionary.
Early this year, I made a different effort to observe two male friends whom I have severally accused of having the guts not to set goals or have any anticipation towards the year. These two "gutful" people are ones that I consider highly successful to a fault, and I was just curious as to how they found life meaningful not falling into that year-end/start goal-setting pressure. So, I decided to join the gang. I did the regular write down five goals thing required at one of my social groups (church), submitted the paper there, and deleted the goals from my memory and computer. Then, decided to live freely throughout the year just addressing my daily tasks one at a time. Here are some things and lessons I realized from this experience;
Action to the Best of My Ability + Outcome = Success Success
Action to the Best of My Ability (No Outcome or Poor Results) = Good Success
I will put a lot of effort into this next point because it is one of my biggest pet peeves.
The disgust I felt informed me of how to deal better with others when telling them about my goals and how to shut up about my goals or achievements if it wasn’t necessary information for the conversation or didn’t contribute in any way to the other person’s life. An example is my work with students at a college. During my meetings, instead of just telling them I achieved this and that, I ensure that I create a to-do list for them with the websites I went to find resources. I assist them with editing their essays, sit with them to review their applications before submissions, and I follow up. At workshops I give students information and provide my contact details, asking them to reach out to me if they need help going through the steps again or if they have any question. To be honest, having to support people outside religious settings with achieving their goals has taught me to not give superficial or vague responses like - "My friend, I just prayed and God did it." For the most part of it, to me, those kind of testimonies are only good for religious publicity not community benefit and hardly motivate me to take action. Finding dependable support in people proactive and willing to walk me through all their steps makes learning about their goals more exciting and knowledgeable. I realized that I have felt much better and comfortable with relationships of people willing to guide me through accomplishing what they have accomplished rather than just announcing their goals to me.
This post is not to shame you for the traditional year-end/start style of goal setting if that works for you. But for some of us who have chosen otherwise, consider this a secret support group where I can say: I feel you, and I understand. Goal setting is proper but goal setting isn’t the same for everybody. It is never a one-size fit all format that anyone should feel pressured to follow. So, forgive yourself for not writing that list when the church asks you this year if another method of goal setting works for you or just do it and ignore it. I think rather than just doing what everyone does yearly, why not discover what works for you or what makes you feel good about goal setting? Why not be honest with yourself about what makes you feel bad about goal setting?
If you ask, this year has been a successful one for me. Right now, I do not feel any pressure to start listing out what I achieved or didn't achieve - instead, I have started taking action to plan towards some tasks I want to complete next year. I am focusing on improving my readiness for the opportunities I estimate that life could offer rather than boxing myself to a list of things (outcomes) in the name of "goal setting." Most importantly, I do not feel the pressure to compare myself or accomplishments with anyone else. If at the end of this year, someone who tried the traditional style of goal-setting is bragging to me about their goals/testimonies, except if I am truly interested in engaging, I'll take the pleasure of sitting quietly and just being at peace that I did things my own way and it worked for me too.
I am a serial goal non-achiever when I box myself or my anticipation of the year with a list. But outside and without that list, I am a bird - flying with many colors, a badass at peace within myself, and an incomparable success!
PS. I quietly add my achievements to LinkedIn just for my professional documentation and personal references.
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© Oyindamola Shoola 2020