Three months ago I did something I’ve never done before: I set goals. Of course, I’ve had goals and dreams before, but this was the first time I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down goals with a specific end date: October 31st.
I thought I did a pretty good job, too. I picked one goal in each of four main areas of my life and outlined habits that I thought would help get me there. Now that we’re at the end date, though, I’m feeling like I bit off more than I could chew.
Laura from How to GYST warned me about this six weeks ago, when I commented on her post on setting goals. It was important to me to have a goal in each of those categories so I wouldn’t stagnate, but Laura was absolutely right that having longer-term goals for all four was far too much – especially considering I have a day job!
I do want to continue to acknowledge each of these categories in some way each quarter, so that I don’t shove them aside in favour of my current goal, but clearly setting actual goals for each of them was too much, so I think this time around I’ll put more emphasis on habits and stick to one or two goals.
So how did I do? In the rest of this post, I’m going to break things down into the four categories I mentioned above and discuss the goal I set, how I did, and what I’m doing next month.
My current goal
My goal for the last three months was to finish the draft of the novel I was working on at the time. I am happy to say I knocked this one out of the park. I finished a draft sometime in mid-September and spent the rest of the quarter brainstorming for a new story, which I’ve just gotten started on in the past week or so.
How it went
As I mentioned, I achieved this goal. Moreover, I found having that goal in place was helpful in terms of motivation. There were a few times I wanted to put that story on the backburner and work on something else, but by reminding myself I had set finishing this draft as a goal, I persevered, and I’m glad I did.
My goal in the coming months is to write at least 500 words every day, including weekends. I find that I write best when I’m immersed in the world of the story for at least a small period of time every day, and 500 words is something I can write in as little as ten minutes, and no more than twenty. Moreover, 500 words in 90 days shakes out to 45 000 words, and as my drafts tend to fall around 50 000 words, setting myself a minimum goal of 500 words a day gives me a solid shot at having another draft at the end.
My current goal
I set myself a goal of having 50 email subscribers by the end of October. I came up with several strategies for doing so, including posting regularly and being active on social media, but ultimately I did not reach this goal.
How it went
I think this one went wrong because it was really rather vague. I set myself a specific number, but I pulled the number out of thin air because it sounded somewhat reasonable. It’s also quite a complex outcome, because it relies on the confluence of so many different things (the quality of the blog content, how many people actually see it, how obvious the opt-in form is, if people who see the opt-in form are even interested in it, etc.) that it’s difficult to measure where there’s room for improvement.
My new blogging goal is to finish working on and launch my updated site design. There are some things I love about the current design (the colours, the fonts), so don’t expect a complete overhaul, but there are other things I’m not wild about (the sidebar. Ugh. What possessed me to include one of those?), so I’ve been tinkering with it behind the scenes. By the end of this quarter I hope to go live with a site design that I love.
Health & Fitness
My current goal
My goal in this area was to curb my snacking, which I aimed to do through better meal planning. I decided on this goal because I had developed a habit of snacking through the evening instead of cooking dinner, and of buying low-quality snacks at work because my lunch didn’t keep me going until I got home.
Where it went wrong
This goal was just too vague, especially because I’m not against snacking. My problem wasn’t that I couldn’t make it from lunch to dinner without eating (which, frankly, is probably never going to happen, because I have gaps of up to 8 hours between my meals), but that I tended to snack mindlessly instead of sitting down to meals, and that I didn’t pack enough food to see me through the work day.
All of this made it impossible to really measure how well I did at achieving this goal. Was I failing if I bought a snack at work because I was legitimately ravenous, or was I just more hungry that day? What about when I arrived home ready to eat the entire fridge and had such a big snack I didn’t want a big dinner? Should I have forced myself to cook while hangry?
It just didn’t work.
I’m going in a different direction this quarter and turning my focus to fitness, and my goal here is to be able to do ten full push-ups. That might sound laughable to some of you, but I’ve always had poor upper-body strength and I’ve fallen off the wagon on my workouts lately, so ten push-ups in three months seems a reasonable goal, one I intend to achieve through full-body workouts 2-3 times a week.
I think this is a more manageable goal in that it’s easy to measure and straightforward to work towards.
My current goal
This category is kind of a catch-all for the rest of my life. As such, my goal this past quarter focussed on one of the biggest things going on in my life right now: our impending move to Canada. I aimed to have everything in the flat decluttered, inventoried and ready to move.
How it went
Frankly, it didn’t. When I set that goal, I was forgetting one very important piece of the puzzle: my husband. I can’t single-handedly sort through and inventory the entire flat, because many of the things here either don’t belong to me at all or are things we’re better off sorting through together. I did sort through my clothes, so I’ve made a start, but setting this as a personal goal wasn’t really a clever idea as so much of it is outside my control.
As I mentioned, this category is a bit of a catch-all, and as I’ve got a busy and unpredictable few months ahead with the move I’m not setting any particular goals here.
Some general thoughts
Although I’ve set goals for my fiction writing and fitness areas, I’ve focussed on the habits here. The goals exist to motivate me to continue working on building the habit through the next three months, and as such they are goals that I fully believe to be attainable if I stick to working on the habits, which are both sustainable in the long-term.
In contrast, my blogging goal has a definite end-date and involves completing specific tasks rather than developing a habit. These sub-tasks, however, are all attainable within the next three months.
I’m hoping here to strike a balance between being laser-focussed on a single thing and making the mistake I made three months ago where I tried to do too many things at once. Instead, I have one large goal that I hope to complete by the end of the upcoming three months and two smaller goals that are centred around motivating myself to develop habits.
Over to you
Do you set quarterly goals? How do you balance the various facets of your life?
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