I typically work with clients to create short, intermediate and long-term goals. I do so because if we don’t know where we are going, we’ll never get there. However, I often find that some of the most common, and important goals are minimized or seen as obstacles. I hear comments such as, “I didn’t have time to work on my goals this week because school starts next week and I had tons of shopping to do to get the kids ready.” Or, “I didn’t make progress this week because my mom (or dad), who has Alzheimer’s, needed extra attention. I was exhausted.”
Here are a list of several common reasons that carefully thought-out goals fall by the wayside.
- Fitness programs
- Kids’ doctor appointments
- Kids’ practices
- Spouse wanted time with me
- Worked overtime or late
- Caring for dependent relative
- Volunteer work
There are more, for sure.
Here’s what I mean. A single parent has the goal of attending college part-time, to obtain a degree. But she says, “With all my responsibilities around the kids it’s hard. I get them ready for school, walk them to the bus, pick them up, make meals, help with homework, take them to practices and doctor appointments. It’s so difficult to have, much less find time for meaningful goals.”
Can you see what she is missing? As with the examples I gave earlier, this mom is overlooking a primary goal in her life. She’s minimizing the fact that raising her children is one of her most important goals. Her goal is to care for them, see they are educated, fed, healthy, and active. This isn’t an impediment to a goal, it is an essential goal. It’s an example of how we commonly minimize routine responsibilities, in the name of “important” goals.
Too frequently, only new, exciting goals are added to calendars, while these minimized goals are often omitted as if they didn’t exist. That’s how we find ourselves in a time crunch. We deny ourselves the time to execute daily responsibilities. It is essential to honor the time it takes to carry out your daily responsibilities by placing them in your calendar.
Each of the reasons, often referred to as “excuses,” I bulleted earlier, are symptomatic of noteworthy responsibilities/goals. Please, don’t minimize your self-care, fitness, yoga, journaling, and the like. These aren’t time-wasters in terms of meeting goals, they are portions of existing goals that you probably don’t want to abandon.
I’ve listed below some of the goals associated with the list above. Feel free to add your own.
- Fitness programs – goal; self care, good health
- Kids’ doctor appointments – goal; healthy children
- Kids’ practices – goal; well-rounded, healthy children, develop their talents
- Spouse wanted time with me – goal; relationship care
- Worked overtime or late – goal; financial stability, career path
- Caring for dependent relative – goal; provide support to family members who need me
- Volunteer work – goal; give back to a generous world
The reason goal-setting often doesn’t work is that we overlook or minimize the goals that are in place and already functioning in our lives. By minimizing or ignoring them, they can appear to become impediments to additional goals we set.
By acknowledging existing responsibilities/goals, we can then pragmatically schedule time for other pursuits. Or, eliminate those that have lost their importance, thus freeing up additional time for new adventures. Or, unfortunately, find that we don’t have time for additional pursuits. That’s a subject for another blog.
Take a look at your life. Where are you minimizing routine activities that are part of essential goals. I’m referring to self-care, care for others, perhaps children or a parent, home maintenance, your employment, family gatherings, doing fun stuff, volunteer work. These are all aspects of greater goals for vibrant physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
The key here is to acknowledge existing goals and responsibilities that you wish to perpetuate. Then as you accomplish them, daily or weekly, cross them off your calendar, and note the feeling of accomplishment. Add additional goals or dreams to your calendar, only after acknowledging those current ones you want to continue.