It’s a new year, and everyone’s making new year’s resolutions and goals. As I said in my power words post, I used to have a strained relationship with goal setting. Although I’m not a procrastinator in the traditional sense (I’m very productive when there’s external accountability), I used to have a tumultuous relationship with personal goals – like regularly working out.
For a long time, I was stuck on a Ferris wheel of shame.
I would feel ashamed that I didn’t work towards my goals one month, self-criticise myself and use the shame as motivation for the next month.
I had a fear-based mentality that was self-punishing.
Even in the ‘good months’ when I was working towards my goals and achieving them, there would be part of me hyper-aware of my vulnerability to ‘fall off the wagon’ so to speak.
When I’d do something I was proud of, there was part of me that would be observing my productivity. There was this voice unkindly observing the situation and wondering how long it’d last until I’d go back to my old habits.
IT WAS A VERY VICIOUS CYCLE
This negative self-talk even crept up when I was making goals. Often, I convinced myself that I shouldn’t make goals, think big or do anything other than going on long YouTube rabbit holes.
I didn’t believe I could set targets and achieve them. I would be filled with fear and self-doubt and think that I was somewhat delusional for even imagining I was capable of striving towards anything.
Recently, however, I’ve realised that there were a few different reasons for why I would choose to procrastinate instead of going after what I wanted.
I’ve observed that these situations are a recipe for disaster, it indulges negative thinking patterns that result in self-sabotage.
#1 I Don’t Want to do It
Sometimes I think I should do something and haven’t evaluated if I want to.
I recently found this list of 100 books everyone should read. I made a list of all the books that I thought were the most important and borrowed them from the library. They’re all sitting in my bedroom.
I think, perhaps, I got through three chapters of one of the books. It’s not like it’s unrealistic for me to read all those books, I’m a big reader. I read a book or two a week.
I even gave up my general reading because I was ashamed that I hadn’t read the books that I should have read.
Reading is one of my favourite hobbies and has kept me sane through hard times, train delays and the majority high school (I don’t know how any gets through it unscathed by actually talking to people – teenagers are mean).
How could I give one of my favourite hobbies up or spend my time reading books that I am just not that interested in at the moment?
This isn’t to say that I won’t enjoy reading these books – and I may end up reading them eventually, but because I want to.
Instead of letting some list on the internet make me feel uncultured.
IDENTIFYING THE ACTUAL GOAL
It sounds so simple only make your goals things that you want to do. As a consumer, however, there are so many things that are sold to me in really appealing ways that make me believe that I want something I don’t.
For example, I love a beauty bloggers , but I’ve realized that has nothing to do with make-up (I’m a skincare nerd though). I just love their enthusiasm for beauty. I enjoy seeing someone who is passionate about what they’re talking about and can talk about it engagingly.
Their enthusiasm inspires me, but I don’t care about the beauty. Understanding that means I know I don’t want to invest my time, energy and money to have a wonderful collection of makeup that I can apply perfectly.
It just means I want to love something as much as those bloggers love beauty. And so beauty shouldn’t be my goal. That enthusiasm is transferable to things that I’m passionate about.
I love big picture dreams and when I look at someone’s life and love it. I find it’s hard to see what I like about them. It’s often not the actual thing that there selling, but instead what I am letting it mean.
This isn’t to say I don’t like the aspirational format of a lot of the content that’s out there. But understanding what’s capturing my interest and want to incorporate; I am more likely to stop procrastinating and figure what it is I want to do.
#2 I Have Too Many Goals
Am I the only person who thinks that to do one thing you have to change your entire life, on a Monday morning. But who wants to anything on a Monday?
I have to eat healthily, exercise, have ten different side hustles (because we live in uncertain times), message everyone in my life so that I’m a good sister, daughter, and friend, be aware of all current events as and when they happen, sleep for eight hours a day and this all needs to be fitted around work, a self-care routine and everything else that will make you a super-evolved human being who’s killing it at life.
It’s so overwhelming.
This desire to change overnight comes from a place of perfectionism and scarcity, I feel like there isn’t time for me to develop all the habits and achieve my goals if I am not doing them all right now.
It means I feel like unless I’m perfect at everything I can’t be good at anything.
I give myself a lot to change all in one go and must multitask to make it happen – something I’m genuinely not capable of. I’m setting myself up for failure and feelings of inadequacy, and then I’m surprised that I’m not doing anything.
I understand that focussing on small bitesize, measurable things focused on one big picture goal will allow me to do things that I want to do without feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
It’s much harder to practice this – I’ve recently realised that it’s a skill that’s developed over time.
#3 Failure To Launch – Lack of Belief
Sometimes, even when I have decided I want to do something, and have focused on the one thing I want to do. I still don’t find myself doing it. I ask myself:
The answer is normally:
I don’t know why.
I don’t know this specific thing. If I don’t know that, how could I even imagine believing I could do anything?
I stay in this place of self-criticism because I haven’t figured it all out I don’t want to figure it all out because if I do, I’ll have no excuses.
Not having a cop-out or excuse is frightening. It means I’ll have to do something. And what about if I don’t get what I wanted or don’t achieve the goal I set myself?
What about if I’m just not good enough?
It’s so much easier to imagine the future without walking towards it. I find myself doing this a lot.
Very simple tasks become daunting and anxiety-inducing. I make myself feel confused and lost. I am unable to remind myself that I do have the capacity to figure it out.
Fear paralyses me and I do absolutely nothing. Then, I spend a lot of time baffled by my inaction.
I now understand that I’ll have a lot of negative thoughts I’ll need to overcome if I want to achieve goals. Sometimes I have a core belief that I don’t deserve because I am not my ‘ideal self’ yet. I didn’t think I was perfectionists, but that is perfectionistic behaviour.
Instead of indulging my self-critic – which isn’t productive most of the time. Sometimes it’s important to look at the thought patterns and valid excuses of why I shouldn’t do something and do it anyway.
DO IT ANYWAY – because I won’t believe my self-critic so much anymore if I have evidence for why those excuses are wrong.
It’s something I’m working on and getting better at (hopefully!).