We are nearly done with the first month of 2018 (don’t worry, I’m not judging you if you still can’t write the correct year yet). This is the time when the rush at gyms dies down, when people swap out their kale for a little Valentine’s candy, and when we start slipping back to whatever habit we had last year that we swore we’d change this year.
This is not intended to be a guilt trip.
Instead, I’d like us to think a little about the difference between pursuing goals in aggressively or exhaustively. The reason we start to slip is because real life is creeping in, because the kids/parents/spouse/co-workers all need something from us, and we are generally better about taking care of other people before we think about taking care of ourselves.
What’s the Difference Between Exhaustive and Aggressive?
When we exhaustively chase goals, it feels like trudging through a swamp. Sure, we are going to have days when stubbornness determination keep us going, and we might even be okay with it. But it’s heavy. It’s tiring. It’s the sort of thing we use as an EXCUSE to avoid self-care, that we can sometimes hold as a guilt trip over others. It’s obligatory and draining, and when we are asked WHY we are chasing that goal, our answer is essentially because I said so. This kind of goal is when you agree time and again to watch your neighbor’s kids because she asked, but you’d really like to say no so that you can take care of your own – whatever that may be.
Aggressively pursuing a goal means that we know what we want to do, we have the destination in our sights, and that working toward it challenges us BUT ALSO rewards us. Please notes this way isn’t easy – I’d be a jerk if I let you believe that pursuing publication was easy, if I hinted that parenting was easy, if I suggested that being married is easy. These things are all hard, but we are willing to do them because of love and passion and desire to help people or ourselves be better. This is helping a child work through a project because they want to do it well, and you love the child and want to support them in striving.
How Do You AVOID the Trap of Exhaustive Goals?
There are two components:
- Be honest with who you really are.
- Don’t let peer pressure guilt you into saying yes when you mean no.
Be honest with who you really are.
I have several sisters who love to compete in races. They bike or run or do crazy Spartan challenges and it gives them a great sense of accomplishment. FOR YEARS, I tried to catch the vibe, tried to find joy in running or racing and I just don’t have it. Never have. And the thought of going to a Zumba class gives me all kinds of anxious feelings. Setting a goal to run a certain kind of race is not being honest with myself. Now, doing some calisthenics in my house, joining a spinning class, or even just riding my own spin bike in my garage? I love that. If my goal is to be healthier (it is), I need to be healthier in a way that is honest for me.
If you look at my Pinterest, you will see that I don’t have any food or craft boards. I use Pinterest all the time when I’m making dinner, but it is usually with “Instant Pot + (insert kind of meat available)” and then I pull up a recipe that has most of the ingredients that I have in my house. I don’t mind cooking, I don’t really get into baking, and pinning all kinds of things so followers would think that I was like them was a surprisingly difficult habit to break. But I don’t know where my hot glue gun is (I think I still have one), the only thing I like to paint is walls, and floral arrangements either need dusting or die, so pass on that too.
I know, we have all kinds of magazines and websites and friends showing us what they are like, making us think that’s who we should be. You should be you. You are absolutely allowed to keep getting better at things – I think that’s a primary purpose of life – but you need to be a better you.
Don’t let peer pressure guilt you into saying yes when you mean no.
There is always going to be someone who needs something. Some of those people are individuals who you have agreed to tend for (to a point). Others are people who think that, because you are there and they need something, they should ask you. They might even be asking you because in the past you have said yes. I’m convinced on of the most difficult words to utter (especially for women) is no. We don’t want to disappoint, let down, be seen as ________, etc.
First, if this is you, I’m giving you the homework assignment to read/listen Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and really become clear in understanding that when you hesitate saying no to other people, you are saying no to yourself. Again, there are times when you have to, but if your tendency is to constantly volunteer for things because you can’t stand the feeling the mirrors guilt, just remember who you are saying no to. Don’t believe me? Check out what Shonda Rhimes says about the matter in The Year of Yes.
I wish you the very best as you KEEP working toward your goals, and as you let go of those that were imposed, but don’t align with who you want to be.