Truth: Yesterday I realized that my goals may actually be bringing me down, so I’m trying to (re)learn how to stay focused while letting go. I wrote this post a while back, and it’s time for me to revisit my own words of wisdom. If you’re in the same place, i.e. your goals are starting to own you versus the other way round, this one’s for you.
Wow. Can I just tell you I am SO excited right now! I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection lately as it pertains to this here blog, and I’ve had a few epiphanies. The greatest one yet: goals are overrated. Sure, goals are good to have but boy, sometimes we take them way too seriously.
To give credit where it’s due, a quick shout out to Nadalie from It’s All You Boo. I’ve been participating in a goal slaying course of hers. Kind of ironic, really, given my current goal is to learn how to stay focused while letting go of my … goals! But there you have it.
Quick disclaimer: The thoughts I’m about to share were inspired by Nadalie’s coaching but they’re 100% my own.
Goals are not gospel. Goals are simply goals!
Goals are objectives we strongly believe in when we set them, but that doesn’t make them unquestionable truths. Yet often, we’re afraid to change them once we’ve set them because nobody wants to be a quitter, right? That, or we’re concerned about what other people might think if we don’t follow through on something we’ve said we’re going to do. (Been there, like, a gazillion times.)
But here’s the thing. We’re actually allowed to change our minds mid-pursuit. If, on the way to achieving a goal, you realize it no longer suits you, guess what? You can bail!
Letting go of your goals doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a quitter.
Sometimes letting go simply means you know what you want — or at least, you know what you don’t want and that can be pretty darn helpful.
Say you want to get in shape, for example. You know you need to up your cardio so you set yourself a goal. Three months from now, you’re going to complete a 10K run. Woohoo! You head straight to The Running Room, buy yourself a water bottle, a box of energy bars, a tub of anti-chafing cream (you can’t be too careful) and a new pair of sneakers. You’re feeling stoked. But two weeks in you discover YOU FREAKING HATE RUNNING!
Why the heck would you keep on running? Sure, you set a goal to run 10K, but crossing the finish line wasn’t really what you’d set your long-term sights on. Getting in shape was. And if you know that running is going to crush your spirit, wouldn’t you be better off adjusting your goal to something you might actually enjoy, like cycling, kickboxing … or pole dancing?
So, why bother setting goals if you’re only going to change them?
Because goals help guide us and even drive us.
As I said, they may not reflect our ultimate destination but they do help set us in the right direction. We just need to pursue them with a degree of flexibility. Driving during rush hour is a perfect example of when it can serve us better to stay focused while letting go (not of the steering wheel, of course).
I live in the east end of Toronto and Lakeshore Boulevard is typically my quickest route into the city. But when I find it has me stuck in a serious jam, I don’t just sit there thinking, damn it, I refuse to be a quitter. I explore other options.
Exploration is good, as is letting go. It can take us places we never knew existed. It can help us discover new neighbourhoods, new restaurants, new stores — and new possibilities.
Your journey isn’t a means to your goals. Your goals are a means to your journey!
By all means, pursue your goals but keep things fluid. As your goals ebb and flow, ebb and flow with them. And don’t be afraid to play.
A year ago, my goal was to launch a parenting blog. On the one hand, if I hadn’t set that goal, I never would have started blogging. On the other hand, if I had set that goal in stone, I never would have allowed myself to explore other topics. And I wouldn’t find myself right here, right now, writing my heart out on Viv for Today, which is exactly where I need to be — at least for now 🙂
If you want to take flute lessons, do it. But if you decide a few months in that your creative spirit is begging you to put down your instrument and pick up a paintbrush instead, don’t fight the urge. You could be the next Picasso.
Want to write a children’s book? Start writing one. And if you realize mid-way that you’re far more pumped at the thought of writing a steamy romance, go for it. I promise you the kids will be OK, and who knows. You could become the next E. L. James.
So go ahead and set those goals. Just make sure that as you set out to achieve them you go easy on yourself. Listen, explore, play. Stay focused while letting go, at least a little. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Or rather, what’s the best thing that could happen?
Viv for today xo
(Originally published in June 2018)
Looking for true happiness? Perhaps you’ve already found it. This true happiness post may help you decide.
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