Goals and me

I don’t really like the word “goal.” It makes me think of pressure and achievement and power ties and childhood soccer games in the rain. I do like the words desire and intention, which make me think of the positive kind of wanting and hope and trust and competence.

Although I sometimes wish it weren’t true, it turns out that I am the kind of person who likes little goals. Not insignificant ones, but ones that I feel confident committing to. A big part of the power of a commitment, for me, is about this confidence: knowing that when I say I’m going to do something, I am actually going to do it. That means I’m practicing the same level of integrity towards myself that I want other people to practice towards me.

Little goals also help me avoid overwhelm. An intention that makes me feel overwhelmed is one that paralyzes me and keeps me from doing even the things I already know how to do, while one I know I can accomplish (even if I don’t know how yet) helps me move forward.

And lately, I’ve noticed that I like to work on one desire at a time. I am reminded a lot these days that I cannot focus on everything at once, and so choosing one thing to work with is a way of honoring both my abilities and my limitations. In a day-to-day way, I’m finding it useful to attend to finding one thing I can do to make my life better at that very moment. On a larger scale, I’ve been working with one-word intentions. These intentions seem to me to encapsulate the feeling of what I want, which sometimes has the lovely effect of bringing that thing into my life in ways I wasn’t anticipating, just by the power of my attention being focused on it. They let me focus on the big picture without worrying about whether I’m setting the bar too high or too low. And they also provide a really useful yardstick for smaller decisions: does this thing I’m about to do (or not do) support my fill in your intention here?

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1 comment to Goals and me

  • I don’t care for “goals” either. That word is fraught with the sound of impending failure, to me. I tend to use “aims” and “hopes” and “intentions”. Goals are things one has to work on. I aim for things I would like to include in my world but don’t have on a timetable.

    Right now, I am aiming for walking 3 17-minute miles with my friend 3 times a week. We are at slightly more than 2 in 20 minutes. This small thing gives us an impetus to push just a little harder when we are walking so that the underlying intention (getting our heart rates up for long enough to help keep our bodies healthy) is accomplished.

    Today, we are painting my son’s old room as the last step in turning it into a guest room. My intention with that is to create a place where my friends and family will enjoy visiting. And to eradicate the space that inspires him to adolescent behaviors rather than the adult ones he has been developing while he is serving in AmeriCorp for 10 months before beginning college.

    These are small accomplishments that I expect to help me have a general satisfaction with the ife I am creating for myself.

    I am fortunate. I don’t have large travails or impediments to joy.

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