I am reading a book that has changed my thinking about setting goals. A couple years ago, I was setting goals based on the “if your goal doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough” theory. I let myself get burned out and decided not to set goals, instead to set milestones. Although I understood that the real value of the goal was found in the process of accomplishing it – more so than attaining the actual goal – I was put off by the idea. I found myself disappointed when the goal was met – and anxious over setting the next “outrageous” goal. I felt that it would have to surpass the previous goal in complexity and outcome.
The book I am reading now actually dares to suggest that joy or fun be incorporated into setting goals. I chewed on that for a while. What a concept! I looked at one of my current milestones for 2020 – logging 2020 miles of intentional walking/running. I considered my reason for wanting to accomplish that. Guess what came to mind? The joy I find in walking, running, or a combination of the two! Instead of thinking that I need to walk an average of 5.5 miles a day for a year, I actually consider it a daily gift that I give myself – 5.5 miles alone or with a friend, time without other commitment, time to consider, reflect, pray, meditate, appreciate my surroundings. It’s the same 5.5 miles – but which is more appealing? As is true with most things, it’s a mind game. I understand this.
Another (mental) roadblock I found with goals was the need to compare myself to others. What a joy stealer! I started thinking about what really “lights me up” – ignites my passion (besides Bill). I absolutely love doing things for others! Not in showy, ostentatious acts. Little things that would add joy to their day. Perhaps even doing them anonymously when possible. Seeing or imagining a smile on their face is like a huge burst of sunshine in my heart. It truly fills my cup of joy to overflowing. This is true, to the point that when I start feeling down, I know that I can get a “hit” of happy by doing something nice for someone else. On occasion, they were received and acknowledged in a very condescending manner. That used to bring feelings of shame and embarrassment – I was doing something from my heart and wasn’t good enough for the recipient. It was almost enough to make me quit doing what I enjoyed. Then I considered the recipients. I decided they either didn’t have that happen often (receiving “just because” or “from the heart and thinking of you” gifts), or they felt superior and not in need of generosity (of heart). Now I just chalk it up to experience and move on. At one time, setting a goal of bringing happiness to others would have felt “less than” since it didn’t require extensive training, sweating, or pain.
I have this tendency to associate things (visual reminders) with people. I see an eagle and think of my dad, cardinals remind me of my godparents, donuts – my aunt and uncle, butterflies – my Mom, sand dollars – Paula, hearts – Kathi, knitting – Jay, and on it goes. Even though some reminders bring unpleasant memories, they are an important part of who I am. When I see the visual reminders, I think of the person they represent with joy and gratitude for the lessons I have learned from them. One of my goals (with joy and fun in mind) include expressing that joy and gratitude tangibly with a note or conversation, or with a prayer. Prayer is a powerful goal. A while back, I was choosing a person or persons, and praying for them for 30 days without telling them. I grew a lot from that experience. Most of the growth came when I added people who were challenging for me to pray for. It’s so easy to pray for those you love and care about. Try adding someone not in that category. There was no fairytale ending – no relationships were mended. But it was a healing experience for me. And I know that good things happened for the recipient.
Now I am reviewing my goals (yes, goals) for 2020 – I still have 10ish months – and polishing them up to make sure they include “fun” and “joy”. I am not really concerned with how they measure up to anyone’s standard but my own. I am, however, delighted with how much more aligned they are to my core beliefs. I don’t have to rely on anyone mapping out a plan for me. I just respond to the God nudges when they present themselves.
Grace Lesson – believe that you are worth setting goals that include your own joy and happiness. Make them fun. Remember – God created you – which makes you an incredibly beautiful and valuable person. Share the gifts He blessed you with and pursue the passions He instilled in your soul!