Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Kind of Hate Being Goal Oriented

I have a problem—I need goals to function in life. Some of you may not see this as an issue. Heck, some of you might be jealous because you make goals and then fail to achieve them all the time.

I'm jealous of you guys. I'm dead serious.

If I don't have a goal, man am I useless! I mope around the house, whining about how meaningless my life is and how I'll never amount to anything. I'm not over-exaggerating, either. Nick can attest to several of my pity parties over this. Sure, I could be enjoying some relaxation. Or reveling in having free time for excessive anime marathons. But no. All I can think about is the next goal that will give purpose to my life.

When someone sets a ridiculous goal in my face, I can't help but want to make it happen. It's like a drug. Maybe I just like a challenge, despite my whining. Take my stupid insurance, for example. Oh, I could stick it to the man, cheat, take the fine like a tough girl.

But...but...if I get under 29% body fat I can forgo the fine AND eat whatever I want! I'm kind of a cheap skate, which doesn't help me resist this ridiculous, dictator-imposed goal. Then there's the fact that I'd weigh less than I did in high school, and I secretly want to see if that's even possible.

Gah! See? Dangle a goal in my face and I go nuts.

My friend just said she wanted to take me to In and Out for my birthday next week, and I told her we needed to go somewhere else healthier. And I am going to the gym. A lot. I refuse to eat after dinner no matter how hungry I get. I know I'm doing exactly what this evil insurance wants me to, and yet I can't help myself! Who AM I? I don't even know.

Well, I do know—I'm a goal hunting freak. The same applied to school. I HAD to finish what I started, even if it practically killed me. And, seriously, AP classes? SO not worth it! (Parents everywhere are probably sharpening their pitchforks.) But do you know what AP classes got me? A bunch of stress and college credit that forced me to pick a major sooner, since I'd done like half my generals. Honestly, I kind of wish I could have stayed in college longer, taken more electives...but no, my elective credits were all taken away because of AP art (I passed twice, earning me 6 freaking credits). Go figure.

And, you guessed it, my obsessive over-achieving has dug its way into my writing as well. I can't write unless I have some kind of goal. Finish edits by this time. Write a chapter a day. Crit that MS by the end of the week. The worst thing you can do to me is say "Oh, do it when you feel like it" or "Take your time." No! Give me a freaking deadline! If there's no goal, I won't do it because, for shame, it's just not interesting to me anymore.

This makes me sound like a freak, doesn't it? Well, I am. You should know that by now.

All this to say that I realized this was the exact reason I was dragging my feet on Transparent revisions. There was no reason to finish. No goal to achieve. But now I have one, and it's ridiculous how obsessive I've become about it. Two weeks ago I could hardly convince myself to work on it. Now? I MUST work on it. At all costs.

My house is a disaster. Dino Boy has been playing computer games for the past two days. And dinner is a fend-for-yourself event. But I have a goal (or two)! All is right with the world!

Seriously...someone tell me how to stop this before I nix showering because it cuts into my goal-achieving time.


  1. Your birthday is next week? Happy Birthday!

  2. I feel your pain. I've hardly written a thing since NaNoWriMo. no 50K goal pushing my butt ahead. I'll just write whenever ( = never). Can we do NaNo EVERY month (OK, every other)?

  3. How to stop it? I'm giving you the

    Okay, Ella Enchanted treatment --
    (this works best if you're in a round room full of mirrors and talking to yourself, but we'll go with whatever you have handy :-P )

    Now, stare menacingly at yourself so you know you mean business, and say: Natalie, your next goal is to stop giving into the goals!

    There. It's so impossible to accomplish that you won't be able to resist, and will therefore succeed mightily and break the cycle! Yay!

  4. Josin, that's genius. I'll do that right after I finish these other goals...

  5. I have no help to give you. Instead, last night my writing buddy and I made Christmas break writing goals with evil punishments like clothes shopping and weeks of dish washing if we do not complete them.

    I am so there, now! Sorry that this means I have no advice for you. :D

  6. Oooh, I'm so proud of you for getting with your Transparent revisions!! So exciting!

    I'm the same way with goals—I loooove them. Thrive on them, even.

    So, since you probably hope to keep showering at regular intervals, maybe you should make a showering goal! Complete with a gold star sticker chart, even! hehe

    Happy revising and showering and general goaliness!

  7. There's nothing wrong with a good goal or two if they give your life meaning!

    In fact, kudos to you for working out and eating right! Have you tried the Couch to 5K program? It's ridiculously goal-oriented and I lost weight doing it. More info here:

    or here:

    Yes, I am an enabler. You're welcome! =)

  8. I don't think I have a useful suggestion, but in summer you can combine "shower time" with "child time" and run through the sprinklers ....

  9. I like goals...they keep me moving. But about a year ago I made myself promise to stop jumping into commitments that require much of my time and attention when, if I had stopped to take a breath and considered what was being asked of me, I would have figured out it wasn't something I really wanted to do in the first place.

    Now, whenever someone is requesting something from me, asking me to do something, suggesting that I run a half marathon with them in six months time, I make myself take 2-3 days to make a decision. Seriously, learning to say "No" even to myself has given me freedom to pursue the things I really want to be doing with what little spare time I do have.

  10. An early Happy Birthday to you!

    It would depend on the type of situation that requires a goal, at least as far as I'm concerned....

  11. "When someone sets a ridiculous goal in my face, I can't help but want to make it happen. It's like a drug."

    I do this too! I'm still in college, and one day (when I was doing something particularly ridiculous, like making a paper way harder than it needed to be) I told my best friend "This would be so much easier if I weren't so determined to be awesome!" It's since become my unofficial motto. The thing for me is -- as much as I may over-stress myself and over-achieve, on some level it's amazing to see what I can do when I put my mind to it.

    I think we all just need to find a balance between aiming high, and not killing ourselves doing it.

  12. I think I'm kind of the same way. I have to have something to accomplish or else I feel kind of lost. Like there's something I should be working towards. Everything else turns into sort of an inconvenience because I need to accomplish whatever I list to accomplish.

  13. I quite admire a person like you who has goals and actually reaches them. I don't think it is all bad, except I would say don't have too many goals at one time.

    I'm bored if I don't have some goals. Even if they are little ones like cleaning out my closets or organizing my photos. They are still goals and I feel good when I finish them. One of my goals was to blog something each day; but I've missed some days because of family committment - and that is something much more important.

  14. I sympathize as well. I'll admit it: currently my productivity is largely due to my variation on the childhood chore chart! I need goals at the gym too, which was logical while I was training for running or cycling events, but seemed a little ridiculous when I was forcing myself to meet performance goals on the elliptical. (Unless there are in fact elliptical racing events of which I'm unaware...)

    Good luck with your goals and your goal to pursue fewer of them.

  15. Yes I am jealous of your driven nature. I took AP classes in high school, but no tests. When I got to college, I took my gen eds, and I thought it worked out very nicely because it was like taking the same class over again. No stress my otherwise very stressful Freshman year. Of course, it took me 5 1/2 years to get my BS. Good luck with your new writing goal, and way to go on the health goals.

  16. I completely, completely understand how difficult it can be to be goal-oriented. I'm also goal-oriented to a fault, and I actually have felt guilty taking time to just sit and relax for an hour when THERE ARE THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH.

    My problem is that I overestimate what I can accomplish in a period of time -- generally the time between getting home from work and going to bed. Inevitably, I don't finish everything, which makes me cranky, and I end up going to bed at least an hour later than I should in an effort to check off as many things as possible. Same thing with weekends.

    I've been trying to prioritize and give myself only two goals per night so I don't get overwhelmed and lose all semblance of balance in my life. I literally made a daily list on a white board of what to do on which days. It helps, but I'm still struggling not to over-book myself!

    Goals are definitely a great thing, and I'm very proud of some things I've achieved because of them -- finishing a novel, owning and renovating a home, semester in Australia, graduating early (thanks AP classes! haha -- I knew my major, though), getting a full scholarship to college, etc. But everything in moderation, and that's where I have problems.

    Anyway, good luck!!!!!

  17. Maybe you should start playing WoW...

  18. My problem is... I need someone else to set my goal for me. If i set it, I lose motivation fast and make LOTS of excuses. Not a good habit. I'm aware.

  19. You have no idea how much I missed reading your blog while I was busy with school. :)

  20. I can sympathize - I'm one of those "external goals in order, I feel better internally" type of people. I like lists and progress charts and all those other kinds of things.

    Usually when I find myself over-goaled, I think about what one of my managers told me when I worked retail as a teenager. We all hid from him because he was so "let's get this done!" and when he told me once I was just like him, I knew I had a problem...haha

    When his voice pops into my head, I know it's time to go relax.

  21. I'm the complete opposite of all of this. I can't seem to accomplish a goal to save my life. I want to be goal-oriented. I'm wondering what all of you have that I don't? What is the magic key to being motivated, not just in individual goals, but goals in general?

  22. Wow, you just described my life...only with different circumstances. I skip showers and cleaning the house for goals. The only problem is I need an evil insurance company to get me thinner. I think I'll pass, though. ;)

    I know your hair is growing toward a certain goal...not much you can do to speed that up. :)

  23. I know the feeling. I seriously LIVE by my to do list every day. I would have no idea what to do without it. Even though I usually over-acheive and over-schedule myself, I can't seem to function properly without it and the goals.