Dealing With Unmet Goals And Expectations
How do goals and expectations go awry?
You set goals and make New Year’s resolutions. January comes, and it goes. Soon you feel less than productive. In fact, you’re somewhat depressed at the progress you’re not making. You start checking up on the goals and/or resolutions you made. Expectations haven’t come to fruition. What you wanted to accomplish hasn’t come to pass.
Now you feel guilty that you’ve let 31 days slip through your fingers. You rake your fingers through your hair and moan. Chastising yourself doesn’t change anything. It really boils down to commitment.
How do you commit to something so intangible?
The word “commitment” invokes a promise, an obligation to do something that will show tangible results, right? Goals, expectations, and resolutions are not tangible. So, to whom or what are you promising you’ll do this thing?
In the first place, I don’t make resolutions and rarely set goals. Each year I usually choose a word to underscore my motivation for the year. For 2018, I selected the word “fearless.”
Focusing on writing and working in fearless anticipation of completing projects is supposed to keep me writing and moving forward each day. However, I look back on January and consider it a bust.
I had committed to completing a couple of essays, posting on the blog at least once each week, and sending out my newsletter the third Wednesday of each month. In addition, I wanted to continue researching my novel, developing my characters, and hopefully starting the first draft. If I were to give you free run of my laptop, you’d not find any of those commitments completed, either partially or in total.
What happened to good intentions?
You may ask yourself this question when everything seems to fall apart. Usually it’s the result of distractions or interruptions. Here’s what happens to me most often:
- Something didn’t meet my expectations and/or something caused me to start questioning my own value, worth or ability.
- When this questioning persists and I begin to believe that every day will look like the last one, discouragement sets in and it seems nothing will ever get better.
- Then I lose my focus on that special word, “fearless,” the word that is supposed to keep me pushing through these feelings of discouragement and what I see as failure.
But all is not lost. Discouragement can be a gift.
As strange as it seems, there can be gifts along the journey of discouragement, fear of failure, and lack of success.
Discouragement will uncover those expectations. When I expect something to happen a certain way and it doesn’t, I’m disappointed. My whole being gets sad, and I cease to function in a productive way.
Next, discouragement has a way of showing up and teaching me about my misplaced trust. Everything writers do related to success is also connected to reports from Google or other social media about algorithms and the number of followers, number of comments, etc. When these numbers don’t measure up, I feel a sense of worthlessness because I must not be providing what my readers are looking for. Where have I placed my trust? In things that are fickle and unstable. Perhaps I should place my trust in God, someone I know I can rely on to keep things on an even keel.
Discouragement has also taught me how to define my worth. Am I more concerned with success because I’m writing “fearlessly,” or because of success-by-metrics? If by the first, then I am truly worthy of that success. It’s solid.
It has also revealed my control issues and who or what I listen to. I believe that what I can control allows me to direct the outcome of that project. If I work hard enough, strive enough, and push on through, I’ll be successful. This is not always the case. And that’s when I realize I need to buckle down and try harder.
I tend to read everything I can find on writing and how to improve and be successful. Reading is a beautiful thing, and I love to read. However, reading isn’t going to be the factor that makes me a successful writer if I allow reading to distract me from my focus. Reading what others have written on writing is a good thing unless it takes over and pulls me away from my writing.
So, you see, discouragement and feeling less than successful can actually open your eyes and gift you with the knowledge that you need to pick up, learn from this disappointment, and move forward.
Have you experienced recent disappointments or unmet expectations? Would you mind sharing in the comments or if you prefer use my Contact Page to email me?
Header Image Attribution: Viktor Hanacek via Picjumbo