I fail to meet goals. A lot.
When I set “goals” they tend to be things that are easily quantifiable. Things I can measure. Word counts, project deadlines, sales numbers. Some of this I can control. A lot of it I can’t. Deadlines get moved and algorithms change.
A lot of times I start projects and set some goals and they evolve into completely different things. Then the goals dissolve. The feelings of frustration and failure set in. I am left wondering if I’m just incapable of meeting goals.
Admittedly, I have a hard time staying on task and I hyper-focus on weird things that derail my initial purpose. Sometimes it’s unbelievably frustrating. Sometimes, though, it leads me on incredible journeys.
This year has been a roller coaster of wonderful and terrifying and frustrating and uncertain things. But one thing I have learned is that it’s okay that my process and my timeline is different than I thought it was going to be. So, I’ve started measuring my success differently.
This year, I published two poetry collections. I have helped build an amazing group of thousands of mom writers. We collected hundreds of submissions for our first anthology. We launched a shop and watched an incredible, supportive community of women thrive. I drafted 30k words of a novel. I let myself explore and learn new things and I learned that I can do things I never thought I’d do. (I illustrated two books. What?)
Here’s the thing: None of those were goals I set at the end of 2020. I discovered new opportunities and leaned into new ideas and it ended up looking very different. By a lot of standards, I met none of my 2021 goals. But I surpassed goals I never knew existed.
In the past, I tried to set goals this time of year. My birthday is the week after the New Year, and it seems like a good time to reevaluate and reflect. However, I’m trying to do things a little differently this time.
So instead of setting goals, I’m allowing dreams and ideas. I’m letting myself think about what-ifs. To consider possibilities. I do not do my best work when I am under deadline. Creativity needs to breathe and evolve and grow, and I have to give it time to do that. I’m embracing flexibility.
I’m reminding myself that sometimes weeks of nothing explode into something incredible and that the time I spent writing and erasing and staring at walls was not wasted time. It is time that I spend considering what COULD exist, and then figuring out how to get there.