I have learned so much from you about goal-setting. Thank you so much for all your wise and helpful advice. I set goals for 2013 and I’m very excited about them. But I’m finding myself getting overly obsessive about reaching my goals, and I feel terrible if, at the end of the day, I haven’t been able to cross off all my little bite-sized pieces of my goals at the end of the day. I almost feel like I want to give up my goals so I stop being so obsessed. Please help me find a better balance! Thank you! -Laura
Laura, I really appreciate you asking this question. While I’m a big fan of goal-setting, I think it’s imperative that we not go overboard with them so that they control our life — ultimately sucking the joy of living out of life itself.
Goals Are Meant To Be a Blessing, Not a Burden
The reason you set goals is to enhance your life, not to exhaust and over-burden you. If goals become additional stress in your life, they need to be tweaked, rewritten, or dropped altogether.
It’s good to challenge ourselves. It’s good to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. It’s good to aim high and work hard.
But there always need to be room to breathe in life. Charging ahead at breakneck speed just for the sake of speed and productivity is no way to live.
With this in mind, here are five ideas for you to consider trying:
1. Create Weekly Goals Versus Daily Goals
I always encourage people to break their goals down into bite-sized pieces. I encourage this because viewing a big goal in one lump sum can be overwhelming.
However, if you break a goal down so small that you feel obligated to always be working on it every single day — even when the inevitable interruptions come up — you can end up feeling like you’ve failed or fallen way behind when you don’t hit your daily goals every single day.
Perhaps a better option for you would be to choose a few small, bite-sized goals to tackle each week versus each day. Write them down and post them on your refrigerator or somewhere else that you’ll see regularly and then fit them in as you’re able throughout the week.
This way, you are still chipping away at your goals, but you’re doing so in a way that’s more flexible and adaptable to your schedule. On days that you’re really busy, you can just focus on the basics. On days that you have some extra time, you can knock out one or two of the bite-sized pieces.
If you don’t get to all the short list of goals that week, just bump the leftovers to the following week.
2. Make Your Goals Your First Priority Of the Day
Since one of my words for 2013 is Discipline, I’ve been making a very concerted effort to do the hardest things first. This means, I’m starting the day by tackling some of my least-favorite but most important things first.
Truthfully, this is making a world of difference for me. I realized that I’ve been wasting a lot of time just stalling… I’d add things to tomorrow’s to-do list or file things to do later instead of just doing it now. There’s a time and place for filing and putting things on tomorrow’s to-do list, but I’ve been challenging myself to stop procrastinating on these things and just face ‘em head on and get them done.
Not only am I getting a lot more done, I’m also finding I have a lot more margin time. Because once you stop stalling and start working, it takes a whole lot less time to do things!
3. Take A Day Off Once a Week
If you go-go-go all week long and never take a break, you’re bound to burn yourself out. Give yourself at least one day “off” each week that you don’t worry about work or goals or to-do lists. This is your day to refuel and refresh.
We have Sundays set aside as our day off at our house. We go to church, come home and have a really simple lunch of some sort, and then have a quiet afternoon either resting, reading, talking, playing a game, or engaging in other relaxing activities.
We don’t blog, worry about business stuff or goals, and I often don’t even turn on my phone or computer all day long. It’s a day we look forward to all week long!
If you can’t take a full day off, at least take half a day every week. I promise that you’ll find you’re more productive when you take time to recharge than if you just keep going and never stop to take a breath.
4. Set Fewer Goals
Experiment with lowering the bar a little when it comes to goal-setting. Maybe what you’re getting hung up on is the fact that you’re trying to accomplish too many goals.
It’s better to have fewer goals and follow through with them than to have a lot of goals and just end up overwhelmed by them. Go through your goal list and try culling it down to the most important goals for 4-6 weeks. Just focus on those and see if that makes a difference in your stress level.
5. Give Yourself Grace
You’re pretty much never going to get everything done that you want to in a day’s time. That’s just life! Focus on what you have accomplished instead of beating yourself up over what you didn’t accomplish.
If you end the day feeling like you accomplished nowhere near what you’d hoped, don’t fret. Just transfer the things you didn’t get done to tomorrow’s to-do list (or decide to skip them altogether), go to bed, get some rest, and wake up to a new day tomorrow!
What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for Laura? I’d love to hear your input!
photo from Big Stock