May 30, 2014

the goal buffet


It's hard to manage expectations.

This is something I've tried to work on in my personal, professional writing and other professional lives. Tried is the key word. No matter how much I try, more often than not I overdo it.

I'm a goal-oriented lady by nature, which means I set fairly high standards for what I expect to accomplish every day. "Do the laundry." "Get the car's oil changed." "Run three miles." "Complete chapters two and three." My "to-do" list reads more like a novel than my actual novel. And that's a problem.

It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet. The server hands you a plate (or in the case of goal-setting a fresh set of post-it notes and a pen) and you step up to a spread of everything from salad (which is good for you) to fried macaroni and cheese (good for the soul, but not your body). We load up our plate piled as high as we can, and maybe even return to the line for seconds or thirds.

But within about twenty minutes, we're beyond stuffed. The fried mac and cheese no longer seems like a good idea, and you wonder how a small pile of spinach got to be so filling. Likewise, on Friday you make a huge list of everything you want to do during the weekend. By the time Sunday rolls around, you've barely checked off anything from your list, and you feel like a failure. It's next to impossible to stay motivated when you feel like a failure.

Our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs, at least that's what my mom always said. And I'm hard pressed to argue with her on that. That's why it's important to manage your expectations. You have to know how much food -- or work -- you can stomach. But as I said, managing expectations is easier said than done.

How do you go about creating realistic goals?

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  1. Love this post! You're right; there are so many opportunities out there, so it's easy to overload one's plate. I LOVE lists, but I've had to stop making them when it comes to my writing. I still use them extensively for everything else (groceries, work, kids' activities, household chores), but they made my writing feel like WORK, not the JOY I need it to be. So I stopped making them. I know what I need to do; I just need to relax and do it. My one goal right now is to be happy where I am right this very minute. It's a lofty goal; I'm not saying it's easy. But it's attainable. And it's not a moving target. Good luck practicing "portion control" in your endeavors!

    1. That's a wonderful goal -- taking the time to enjoy the present. I need to stop and smell the flowers more myself.

  2. What a great post! I have a lot on my plate, too, and it's stressful and is effecting my health. Like you, I'm goal oriented, and it can be difficult to manage it all, but I'm trying. Right now, my big thing is learning to say "NO".

    Again, great post! :)

    1. Saying "no" is one of the hardest things to do. I'm still struggling to do that and I've gotten better at it!