Dealing with Unmet Goals and Expectations

Dealing With Unmet Goals And Expectations

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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

12 thoughts on “Dealing with Unmet Goals and Expectations

  1. Laurie Buchanan • 3 days ago
    Sherrey — I very much appreciated your transparency and candor. I am currently re-reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. Nope, it’s not about minimalism (as the title might suggest). Rather, it’s about “…a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives.” I think you might find tremendous value within its pages.

    1. Sherrey • 2 days ago
      Laurie, finding you here yesterday made my day! You may not know that you’re one of my “mentors.” Yes, it’s true! In the time I’ve “known” you online, you have written, published, and are about to launch the second of two books. I’ve managed to publish 10 or so nonfiction essays and draft one memoir not to be published any time soon. So I watch and ponder how you maneuver through the curves, up the mountains, ford the creeks to accomplish this great thing you’ve done. And you still find time to comment on others’ blogs. Thanks for your kind words here, and I appreciate the book recommendation. Sounds like something I’ll be picking up. “[D]oing less, but better” is where I’m directing my life, my home, and me personally. These last 2.5 years of pain, shots, surgery, and still the process of healing have given me time to realize what I really want from life and I’m ready to grab it! Love and hugs!

  2. Marian Beaman • 3 days ago
    Thank you for baring your soul here. I can relate to all those feelings.

    Having begun my blog, readers soon suggested I write memoir because they were curious about my life and liked my writing style. My memoir is well under-way, but everyday I deal with dirty little demons: 1. Why is this taking so long? (All your author friends are younger than you. Maybe you won’t get your book published until you are 80.) 2. And what about the people in my past? Many of them are deceased, but what about their children, other living relatives? Will I be sued for libel? 3. My back and neck hurt from the stress of unearthing memories each time I go through revisions. Is it worth it?

    Okay, I am committed to this, so I will persevere with God’s help and others’ encouragement (like yours) no matter how long it takes. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? And the story of the little engine that could? WE can do this, Sherrey!

    1. Sherrey Mod Marian Beaman • 2 days ago
      Oh, dear Marian! I’ve asked myself all those questions and currently it’s part of the reason behind my memoir manuscript being tied with a beautiful blue ribbon and sitting behind me so I can’t see it each day. I don’t know if it was the combination of injury, pain, shots, and surgery that drove me to begin questioning but they sure helped me to shelve it for now.

      I’m glad to hear you’re committed and, with God’s help, you will persevere and I’ll be encouraging you all the way. I can still see the Little Golden Book about the little engine that could and remember well my dad telling the fable of the tortoise and the hare. I’m slowly coming along behind you friend. Thanks for taking a moment to stop by. Love you!

  3. Joan Hall • 3 days ago
    I love the way you turned this into something positive. The past two years, I’ve attempted to start a novel in January. I figure new year, new book. What could be better? But then January and February pass with almost no word count. The good thing about last year’s novel is that things came to me way past my original “due date.” Would these things have come if I’d stuck to my original schedule? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the case, I was pleased with the end results.

    Thank you for sharing your heart today!

    1. Sherrey • 2 days ago
      Dear friend, don’t you love it when, in spite of everything else, the end result is gratifying and satisfying? Your story is a wonderful example of just that. I appreciate your role model when it comes to your writing, and I try to take in what you and the folks at Story Empire share. I am feeling better and think perhaps spring will be my jumping off season for this year’s writing. Always love hearing from you, Joan!

  4. KathyPooler • 2 days ago
    Dear Sherrey, I appreciate your raw honesty here and can relate to the many obstacles you mention that also impede my writing. You are not alone! For me, right now, it’s health issues and decreased stamina that I have to work around. I’ve had to moderate my expectations and do what I can when I can. But we borh still have that fire within us to write and we will reach our goals in time even if it seems like it is in baby steps. Hang in there and keep writing, my friend. It’s great to have you back!

    1. Kathy, I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have the ability to bring your smiling encouragement to mind each day. You are strong, and you make others around want to be stronger. You persevere thereby setting a beautiful example for others. You are part and parcel of the writer I have become and continue to push forward. Thank you, dear friend!

  5. Shirley Hershey Showalter • a day ago
    Sherrey, my heart goes out to you in the midst of all these challenges.You have described an onslaught of woes that would discourage anyone. However, you are FEAR-LESS and FRIEND-FULL. If it is time to revise the goals, so be it. Your word is not about production; it’s about attitude. You’ve got that conquered! I am finished with several big projects and have only small ones left. It feels good not to be biting off a great chunk right now.

    1. Shirley, my friend, you gave me a mantra to use daily from now on– “FEAR-LESS and FRIEND-FULL.” What a marvelous blanket of comfort knowing I am gifted with those descriptions. I have been following your blog but not always commenting; I’ve been enjoying the posts so much. Yes, sometimes we don’t always need to bite in chunks!

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