Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What do you mean you're not setting goals this year?

This is it, folks. I've been going back and forth about this idea for a month or so, but it's really happening now. I'm putting it on the blog and that means it's real.

My one resolution for 2016 is to not set any goals for a whole year.


Already this is giving me anxiety. This means no more to-do lists. No more checking off the boxes every day or every week or every month. How on earth am I going to accomplish anything if I don't tell myself ahead of time what I want to accomplish?

Okay. Hold up a second.

I should give you some background. I LOVE New Year's. I love the idea of starting fresh and improving and changing and achieving and making my future happen. I have always loved those things. And I still do, but I think my love of all of that has gone a little too far.

It's gone from the nice, happy kind of love to the obsessive, creepy, stalking kind of love.

How do I know this?

Well, I've suspected for awhile now that my love of thinking about the future is really just a disguised way of not thinking about or even escaping the present. And that's not so good. That means I'm never fully enjoying the current moment because I'm hyper focused on future possibilities.

Another clue: I can get really hung up on my goals. Sometimes I stick to them just because I said I would, even when I no longer care about accomplishing them. This isn't always the case, of course. I fail at my resolutions just like everyone else does, but there are times when I stubbornly stick by some foolhardy idea I had in January long past when I should've let it go, all because it was a GOAL, goshdarnit.

That's not really how I want to live my life. I want the flexibility to choose in the moment what I want to do in that moment. I want to be able to focus on the present and enjoy what life has to offer each day without worrying about how it's going to fit into the overall scheme of my year.

I still love making plans, but I want to challenge myself to live without a plan for awhile.

As I mentioned, that's a scary thought for me. But as I also mentioned, I've been thinking about this for about a month, and I know that it's the right thing for me to do right now.

So instead of resolutions, I've decided to think about 2016 in terms of expectations. These aren't things I'm going to expect of myself or bars I'm expecting myself to clear. They're just things that I expect are likely going to happen, based on my current habits and interests.

1. I expect I'll move into a tiny house this year. Probably in the fall.
2. I expect I'll do a lot more traveling. I have some good trips in the works already and a few more I've been considering.
3. I expect I'll be going to the dentist a lot. (Long story, but this is actually a big step for me.)
4. I expect I'll probably write another book or two. I tend to do that.
5. I expect to spend a lot more time doing the things I love just because I enjoy them instead of worrying about getting things done by a specific self-imposed deadline.
6. I expect that I'll get better at following promptings from the Lord as I learn to put my plans aside in favor of what He has planned for me that day.

That last one is really the biggest reason for doing this.

I realized the other day that all my past resolutions, even when I prayed about them and felt like I got a heavenly stamp of approval on them, were really just my way of trying to control my life. But the truth is that I don't need to be in control. I actually shouldn't be. Instead I should leave the controls to someone who knows what He's doing.

I hope I can do that. But it's been hard to quit cold turkey. I keep finding to-do lists and goals everywhere: in my email, on my phone, in my brain.

Also, I want to make it clear that this is a very personal thing. This approach is right for me right now because of how overboard I've been with goals in the past. But if you're setting goals or working on them now, I think that's awesome and I am totally going to support you. In fact I'm a little bit envious that you get to set goals. I think I'm in resolution withdrawal right now. It's okay. I'll get over it.

So yeah. This is going to be an interesting year. But it will be a good year, too. I'll learn a lot. I might get into a scary downward spiral of non-productivity. But I can't really see that happening. In any case, I just want to see where this goes. I want to rediscover what it is that I do every day when I'm not telling myself that I should be doing X thing.

Today, for example, I did this: woke up, got ready, unloaded the dishwasher, went to work, deleted a game on my phone that I've been addicted to for months, ran an errand on my way home, worked on revising my Nano novel, wrote cards to some friends, practiced the piano, watched an episode of Parenthood, had dinner with my grandparents, helped my grandma revise a paper she's writing, watched two more episodes of Parenthood (apparently, I'm really into that right now) and I blogged (duh). After I post this I'm going to read my scriptures, brush my teeth, and go to bed.

That seems like a pretty great day. Sure, some part of me is concerned that I spent multiple hours watching television, but it's better than playing that stupid game on my phone. Plus there was a lot of other good stuff mixed in there too. Anyway it's a start, you know?

I wouldn't mind a whole year of days like that, with maybe a little less TV time.

And I don't think I'll need to set any goals to make that happen.

Wish me luck!

PS—Happy 100th post, everyone. :) Here's to 100 more. (Dang it! That sounds a lot like a goal to me. This is going to be harder than I thought...)

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