Why Not Meeting Your Goals Is (Sometimes) Okay

This has been A WEEK. So much has happened. In regards to Twentysomething Months, I have officially launched our new Facebook page! I was so incredibly honored (and pleasantly surprised) by the immense support that immediately followed. Dream big, people!

Life, though, isn’t always full of dreams. Maybe it is, for the idealists. But I like to be a little more real. And with that said, we are now ten days into the New Year, and my goals are going strong. Early last week, I made Goal Tracking sheets to help me see my progress throughout the year. For each goal, there is a chart that marks out each day of every week. For example, one of my goals is to work out four times a week. Every time I get back from the gym, I can check that day off the sheet. This is also known as the “Gold Star Method.” Maybe it’s the Millennial in me, but I like the instant gratification of being able to check off that little box, or get a Gold Star, every time I accomplish something.

But here’s the realist in me. I have four main goals that I am trying to accomplish this year. These four goals can be tracked consistently throughout the year. I do have some other goals (like managing my money better, finding a job after graduation, etc) but those other goals can’t necessarily be tracked on regular basis. So, for 2016, these are my four trackable goals:

  • Go to the gym 4x/week
  • Write 3,000-5,000 words/week
  • Post on the NEW TWENTYSOMETHING MONTHS FACEBOOK PAGE (sorry, shameless plug) at least 2x/week
  • Meditate 1x/week

Now, if I’m being honest, I only achieved half of my goals for this week. Can you guess which two? I’ll give you a hint…both goals are the ones that relate to writing.

Anyway, the other two goals didn’t really work out for me this week. Sure, I did work out three times this week, regardless of the fact that I felt like death and could barely breath out of my nose. But I didn’t meet my goal. And meditation? Ha! “I didn’t have time this week.” I mean, technically, I did. But I didn’t use it for meditation. And the writing goal? Even THAT I barely scraped the surface of 3,000 words. Bare minimum, Michael. Come on, pick it up.

But then I thought of something.

Progress matters.

Michael, you went to the gym three times this week! Who cares about the fourth time? You still went three times, and that matters. And who cares if you didn’t reach 5,000 words? You still wrote 3,182 words this week, which is more than you would’ve written if you never set any goal. So, be proud!

Please excuse that last paragraph. It was really more of me trying to convince myself. But really, progress it important and shouldn’t be forgotten. So, if you are like me, and you’ve set some really amazing New Years Goals but have fallen a little bit shorter than you would’ve liked this week, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. If your goals are realistic and manageable, don’t change them.
    • My goal of meditating once a week is totally doable. I was just lazy this week. Unless something life-changing came up, or you realize your goals are totally unrealistic, the first instinct shouldn’t be to lessen your goal. Shoot for the stars!
  2. Move forward and alter your actions, if necessary
    • If you didn’t meet your goal this week, think back. Why not? I know for me, I only went to the gym three nights this week because three other nights I was working my part-time job, and the seventh night out of the week I was getting my haircut. That makes sense. But for the mediation goal, that’s an example of when I need to alter my plan. So now, I have a set scheduled meditation time for this coming week…which is not ideal, but I know it will help me reach that goal.
  3. Remember progress counts towards your goals
    • Even if you don’t reach your goal, progress shows that you’ve still worked towards it. Compromise with yourself. Some progress is better than nothing at all.

What are some other ways you are tracking your own progress and success? Share your goals in the comments below!

 

Advertisements

2015: A Year in Review

Well hello everyone, and Happy New Year to you all! Last week, I wrote a blog post about preparing for the new year. With all the hype, I didn’t have much of a chance to reflect on this past year, especially in regards to my blog. Luckily, WordPress created an annual report for me!

Looking back at my blog this year, I wrote 49 blog posts (one for every week since I started blogging) with more than 5,000 views in 27 different countries. For a guy who just decided one day to start writing a random blog about the twentysomething experience, THIS IS SO COOL! So, what better way to reflect back on this past year of blogging than with a recap of my top favorite posts? Reading back, these were the top 25 lessons I learned and wrote about in 2015.

  1. Try something new.
  2. Do something you love, regardless of what anyone else says.
  3. Embrace change.
  4. Celebrate life.
  5. Home is not a concrete term. It doesn’t signify a building or a town, and it’s possible that the idea of “home” will change over time.
  6. You are a person, outside of work.
  7. So much can change in one year.
  8. Life is a roller coaster. What goes up, must come down. And just when you think the ride is over, that’s when you need to hang on the tightest.
  9. Treat Yo Self! (special cred. to Parks & Rec).
  10. Your future self will thank your twentysomething self if you work out, eat healthy, and take care of your body.
  11. It’s unlikely to know everything about yourself. The important thing is to be aware and reflect on who you are.
  12. Holidays as a twentysomething are completely different
  13. You can always change your mind…in everything. Career, friends, Friday night plans. It’s okay to change your mind.
  14. Find meaning in everything.
  15. You can only “grin and bear it” for so long.
  16. Splitting yourself into multiple identities and personalities won’t do anyone any good, especially yourself. Instead, work on congruence: blending all of your selves into one.
  17. Everything in moderation
  18. Ride the wave. If you try and fight it…you’re going to get pushed down.
  19. Money is important, but so are fun times with friends.
  20. Move forward, but don’t forget to look back.
  21. Find a mentor (or multiple mentors).
  22. There is no “right” way into adulthood.
  23. Your passions are the things that keep you awake at night. Follow these things.
  24. Break the awkward twentysomething silence. Believe me, no matter how absurd or embarrassing, you are not alone.
  25. We live, we learn, and we grow.

And with that, from one twentysomething to another, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful start to the new year. With these lessons in mind, I promise there will be plenty more twentysomething posts to come!

And on a related side note, I have some big things coming your way for Twentysomething Months! Make sure to stay on the lookout, and I’ll keep you all posted! 🙂

With blog love and New Year’s magic,
Michael

Be your best self…even when it sucks.

Well folks, it’s almost September. And you know what that means…regardless of whether you are in school or not, there are dreams of bright red apples, hard-cover textbooks, and first-day-of-class outfits dancing in your head. Working in a college environment, I understand that I am biased. No matter how old I get, I will always view this time of year as “time-to-go-back-to-school,” no matter what.

Except this year, I’m trying to be a little more intentional in approaching the school year. The summer flew by, training hit me hard, and now I am literally enjoying the very last day to myself before classes start.

One activity during our office’s training that really stuck with me was “Developing a Personal Mission Statement.” The author of the worksheet identifies five steps to develop your own personal mission statement:

  1. Define what you want to be and do
  2. Identify an influential person
  3. Define your life roles
  4. Write a draft of your personal mission statement
  5. Evaluate

Well when you write it all out, in five easy steps, it sounds…easy! Don’t let the steps fool you. It’s not hard work, necessarily, but it will take some thought. I’ll give you an example of how I started with step one. “I’d like to create a meaningful impact in the community for myself and for others. I’d like to be balanced with a consistent yet fluctuating sense of well-being.”

Okay. So what does that mean?

It means that ultimately, I want to be my best self. For others, but also for myself. And eventually, that’s how I developed my own mantra for my last year of grad school. “Be your best self – for others, and also for yourself.” It’s quick, simple, and meaningful to me.

Growing up, I was always told that as long as I did my best, the outcome didn’t matter. Whether it was grades in school, the next piano recital performance, whatever. It didn’t matter, as long as I tried my best. I think the message that is missing though is that as long as you try your best, the outcome for yourself doesn’t matter. If I messed up at a piano recital, my parents didn’t mind…but wow, I sure did! I would beat myself up for weeks, hitting the keyboard for hours after the fact, practicing and repeating the exact same measure over and over until my fingers cramped. Did I ever miss that note again? Nope. But did I try my best at that piano recital, even though I messed up? Well, yeah. I did.

I’m finding that the twentysomething life is a lot like performing at a piano recital. Sometimes, it’s flawless. Other times, it sucks. But regardless of the outcome, as long as you do your best, that should be enough…for everyone involved, including yourself.

I’m also in the process of learning that it’s more than just being your best self. It’s allowing it. Allow yourself to be your best self! Embrace it. Own it. Love it.

And allow yourself to embrace it, own it, and love it even if it sucks. Even if you messed up. Even if it wasn’t the best. As long as it was your best, that’s all that matters.

A simple lesson, really…one I learned in elementary school. Yet, reading it through a twentysomething lens really seems to add a whole new perspective.

Why I’m Done ‘Reaching for the Stars’

Recently, as in just this afternoon, I finished a book called A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown. Yes, that is her real name. I would give the book two stars. Not stellar. But the one piece of knowledge that I was able to pull from this book was this quote: “My rule of thumb was to keep my eye on the long-term goal, but focus on the present.”

Well damn. If that doesn’t speak to the twentysomething experience, I don’t know what does.

I’ve written before that sometimes I feel as if this blog is a little whiny. I want a better social life, I want to be closer to my family, I want the next step. Basically, I want all these things that I feel like are not possible (at least right now) in my twentysomething experience…although several people do have these things. The point is, it is impossible to have the next step…because as soon as “the next step” is here, there is always something else to reach for. There will always be another next step.

When I read Cupcake Brown’s quote this afternoon, I really had to pause and think about it. Although most of the book was me trying to get through it as soon as possible, I really pondered the meaning behind her message on that one. In the twentysomething experience especially, I always seem to be reaching. The next best job, the next best city to live in, the next stage of my life, etc. There was a solid “college experience” that I loved. And I have a picturesque view of being a thirtysomething that involves a steady career, a partner, and maybe even a child. Although the older I become, the more I realize that planning and expecting your future to be a certain way doesn’t help much.

So what’s left is the twentysomething experience. The limbo. Where the college days have spit you out and you’re waiting and waiting for the future thirtysomethings to pick you up and invite you into their club.

I don’t want that. Not yet.

I want to plan ahead. Yes, that’s true. And I am a very futuristic person. I am always looking ahead, planning what’s next, and hopefully finding the “bigger and better” opportunity. But I wonder…what has that cost me? Because I’ve been searching for opportunities abroad, have I missed out on anything right here in New York? Because I’m always thinking about how good of a social circle I’ve had in the past or hope to have in the future, have I given up opportunities to make one in the present? I’m not sure…maybe.

I think a lot of people say “reach for the stars” as a form of encouragement. And it is. Encouraging, inspiring, but also full of empty promises. I know it’s metaphorical and all, but the stars are completely unrealistic. And completely unknown! They are beautiful little twinkling lights in the sky, but I don’t know anything about how a star is created or how it stays up in the sky.

The future is a lot like the stars. Beautiful, and nice to reach for, but also unknown and impossible to predict. That’s why I propose a new phrase. Similar to Cupcake’s, but with a twentysomething spin.

Reach for the stars, sure, as long as your feet are planted on the ground. It’s okay to look up every once in a while—it’s nice to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel—but stay focused on the present, because that’s where you are. And for the most part, that’s what matters. At least right here, in this moment. So feel free to reach for the stars, as long as you stay grounded.