I didn’t make any resolutions this year, which isn’t really anything new, I typically don’t. However, in the past I have set goals for the new year. Last year, for example, I taped two index cards into the back of my planner: one for personal goals, one for writing goals. There were ten goals total. Want to take a stab at how many of them I met?

I think it’s likely that you were over-generous in your guess. (Thank you.) I met one goal. That’s right, one. And if I’m being honest, I only met that one because it was set to be extremely achievable.

But you know what wasn’t on my personal goals list? Running two half marathons. And what wasn’t on my writing goals list? Doing a reading at an amazing library a few months ago or hearing from a listener that the podcast I’m part of helped her. I had wins in both areas this year, but none of them were the ones I set down and arbitrarily jotted down twelve months ago. There was an interesting article in The Guardian recently that offered this about long-term goals:

As for focusing on your long-term goals: the more you do that, the more of your daily life you spend feeling vaguely despondent that you have not yet achieved them. Should you manage to achieve one, the satisfaction is strikingly brief – then it’s time to set a new long-term goal.

-Oliver Burkeman / Why Time Management is Ruining Our Lives

I read that and felt understood in a way I hadn’t in a long time (thanks, Oliver Burkeman). Because there has to be another way, right? A way to be successful and not set our selves up for disappointment, right? I’m seriously, non-rhetorically asking that. Because I don’t really know. But I do know that the goal-setting thing isn’t working for me.

While I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you what I’m doing in lieu of making my arbitrary list of ten things, in case goal-setting isn’t working for you either, and this is helpful in some way:

  • Starting my year off by reading and doing the exercises in Bill Burnett & Dave Evans’ book, Designing Your Life. My husband Mike read it at the recommendation of our friend Mark. And then when I kept asking him to tell me one more time about “that one excercise in that book from the guys at Stanford” he gently suggested I might want to read it myself. So far, so good– they haven’t mentioned goal-setting once.
  • Experimenting with putting my writing first, and figuring out how to carve some time out of each morning to spend with my words. (My early inclination is that it has something to do with spending less time scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, but that’s just an early hypothesis.)
  • Choosing a guiding intention for the year. Mine is: peace. Which is not to be confused with stillness or passive-ness. More with being kinder and gentler with myself for the purpose of focusing on my art and connecting with the people I love.

Oh, and if all else fails, I’m calling in the squirrel:


Happy 2017!

(I found the squirrel of judgement here. I cannot take credit for the cute-ness.)

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