Thursday, May 19, 2011

Setting Unrealistic Goals Can Burst Your Bubble

Do you ever have that moment when you're on top of the world? You're invincible, and excitement radiates throughout your body like you're plugged into a super-powered Energizer battery? Life is brighter, easier, full of hope and promise?

That smashing good mood of yours has you planning your entire week. You're going to get that project finished. Clean out the garage. Go through all the cupboards and closets. Churn out one story after another. Blog daily with renewed enthusiasm. Invest time in the social network sites. Edit your current story with the hope of subbing it out within days. Oh, and query an agent. Good times!

You log your goals on a notepad and get started. Because you're all amped up on happy juice you're cruising through and marking each item off. You're singing like a rock star, getting your groove on. You know you're going to bust through tomorrow's agenda with the same mad passion.

And the next day...

Your oh-so-happy mood bubble burst. The creativity bug sprouted wings and took off to some Avatar-inspired world. You look at your lengthy to-do list and think WTF?

Life is funny that way. You can have a super productive day and be walking around with a cute little bunny bounce, and the next day you're struggling to put on a sock. What happened? It's easy to get caught up in a moment. It's easy to plan your day in advance, especially when you're pumped. It's even easier to set yourself up for failure because you expect too much. And a vicious cycle happens when you set unrealistic goals. You berate yourself, call yourself down, tap into negativity and give up. You think you can't finish what you start and you're a failure. Not good!

When you set goals, whatever they are, they should make sense. They should be doable. They should be positive. They should fit within your daily schedule. Otherwise you're doing yourself a disservice. You only have so many hours in a day and losing sleep to finish your overloaded list is equally damaging. At some point you'll crash or your family may consider an intervention. I used to have unhealthy work habits, and my hubby will call me out if I even think about repeating them.

Find the right balance. Make goals you can accomplish. Be forgiving when life happens. Believe it or not, there is always tomorrow.

~Ann Cory


DA Kentner said...

Nice article. Enjoyed this.

Your post reminds of the time Mike Wallace interviewed a Maestro who turned the tables on reporter Wallace and asked, "Do you always do your best?"
Wallace patronizingly responded, "I try, Maestro, I try."
The Maestro walked off the set, leaving Wallace to wonder what happened.

The Maestro's point was, if something isn't worth our best, then we insult not only the task, but ourselves as well.

Set your goals, then give them, and you, the honor of your best effort.

Ann Cory said...

Thank you :) It's easy to tack on too many things in a day and feel like you're never accomplishing anything.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Ann! Sounds like the story of my life. And it is a vicious cycle. In the last year, I've gotten better about it and can truly say it makes life easier. And happier! I think everyone learns this lesson at different ages and times in their lives. A disservice to yourself is a perfect way to describe it. If you're always letting yourself down, there will come a time when you stop believing you are capable of doing anything. Climbing up from that mental mind-frame is a whole 'nother beast that's seems impossible.

Luckily, life bit me in the butt, and I'm sure glad it did. I could've used reading this a couple of years ago! Lol! But the harder the lesson, the better we learn it, right?!


Ann Cory said...

Great to hear Elece! We need to treat ourselves better in everything that we do. I often learn things the hard way, lol :) Thanks so much for stopping by! Very much appreciated. Have a lovely day!!!

Anonymous said...

Timely post!

I've slipped into the negative gear for the past few days. Time to readjust the thinking and my goals list.

Great post, Ann

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Well, I believe in doing my best, but if it's a day when I can't, I do something else instead. I hike, I bike, I bake...
In the big picture, I plan ahead, in the short term, no. Everyday brings its own challenges so I take things one day at a time and I don't beat myself up if it's an off day.
Hubby beats himself up if he has an off day and he hates it when plans go awry.
I learned long ago - the best laid plans of mice and men oft gan aglee.

Ann Cory said...

Yay Casey - that's the spirit! I appreciate you popping in :) Woot!!

EW Gibson said...

Great Post! Setting goals that are unattainable can and will set you up for failure. But, setting goals that are too easy can give you a false sense of achievement.

I believe small steps will get you to your goal faster and more consistently than big jumps would.

And most important, in a achieving your end result is the preparation. Would you run a marathon without training for it. Why would you attempt to achieve any goal without some kind of preparation?

How's your morning pages goint?

Elizabeth Gibson

Ann Cory said...

You've got the right attitude Julia :) I've spent the last year unlearning my unhealthy behaviors because they were making me sick - inside and out. Baking is my favorite for a creative mood boost. With warmer weather - a hike is sounding tempting :)

Glad you stopped in!!

Ann Cory said...

*squee* Waves madly to Elizabeth! Morning pages - still going strong - every day :) Can't think of starting my day without them - so hooked! lol.

It's important to celebrate all the things we accomplish and not focus so much on the things we don't. It's just not healthy.

Yay :) Thanks for stopping by luv!

Jude Mason said...


Yup, it all makes sense. But, I'm never ever going to be that organized. I plan things, then hubby walks in the door with some brilliant plan for the day. Ugh!

Shooting him is an option, right?

Maybe not. He's kinda cute. And, I do love him.


I do love the Maestro's point. If something isn't worth your best efforts, then what the hell are you wasting everyone's time for? Brilliant. I'm gonna save that and stick it on my board.


flchen1 said...

Good reminder, Ann--I fall prey to this all the time, getting grand plans of all I'm going to accomplish PRONTO, and then I realize that what I have in mind isn't even humanly possible, much less likely given my time and temperament!

N.J.Walters said...

So very true, Ann.

LouiseBohmer said...

Great post, Ann. :-) I'm trying to learn this lesson now. It's tough, but I need to learn patience with myself. Baby steps. *big hugs* Thanks for always putting a smile on my face.

Ann Cory said...

LOL! Thanks for the chuckle, Jude :) That's sweet the hubby wants to include you. And family comes first. :)

Thrilled you stopped by!!! *hugs*

Ann Cory said...

I hear you flchen1 - I somehow managed to ruin a good day by being negative, because I had too much to do and couldn't get enough done. I thought I'd catch more hours by not sleeping. Then it's morning and well...each day became a repeat of the one before, and I don't feel I accomplished anything still. My health took a beating. Fortunately those days are gone :)

Not sure how I made it through high school without sleeping, but I sure can't do it now, lol.

Ann Cory said...

*squee* Hi NJ!! Nothing like sabotaging your own good intentions, right? Hope your day is going well!

Ann Cory said...

*hugs Louise* Hi sweets! Yep, baby steps. It's how we all learn best. We didn't just stand and walk all big strides and skipping around. We started with baby steps.

I'm just thrilled you're burning up the keyboard again. And I owe you an email...I haven't forgotten :)


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Ann,

You've obviously struck a chord here!

I try to remember what I learned in my Twelve Step program - one day at a time. This isn't to say that I don't have longer term goals, but I try to define a daily doable subset that will give me a sense of accomplishment without burning me out.

And if I don't get them all done today - well, tomorrow is another day.


Ann Cory said...

Waving a mad hi to Lisabet :)

Oh my goodness - burnout - exactly. I ran on burnout...and it didn't do a positive thing for me. Sure I was getting an insane amount of things accomplished - but the quality - forget about it. And that included the quality of my life.

Good for you on keeping things at a better and healthier balance! And thanks so much for stopping over :)Woot!!

Fran Lee said...

My muse has been on semi-permanent hiatus, and believe me...I understand how you feel. Just keep swimming...just keep swimming...swimming...:)

Ann Cory said...

((HUGS FRAN)) Always a pleasure to *see* you my dear :) I'm sure that hiatus is coming to a close. Yes indeed! Thanks for stopping by!

LouiseBohmer said...

No problem, sweetie! I know you are crazy busy! :-) Take care!