To figure out whether or not you really want to meet a goal you’re not meeting, clear fifteen minutes a day in your calendar. Tell yourself one very small thing you can do in that fifteen minutes to move toward meeting that goal. And see if you do it.
Why this tactics works:
1. You can’t meet big goals without breaking them down. A to-do list works best if it’s full of specific, manageable things you can do to move one, small step toward the very big goal. After breaking down the goal into items on a to-do list, you notice that worthy goals require sustained focus over a very long time.
2. Self-discipline is what creates change. And self-discipline snowballs. For example, people who write lists end up using lists, and people who use lists get more done. But also, if you balance a book on your head for ten minutes a day, you are more likely to do pushups for ten minutes a day. Because self-discipline begets self-discipline — even if it’s something silly.
3. People don’t want to accomplish the goals they set and don’t meet. I set aside fifteen minutes every day for a week and did nothing. Each day I told myself to do something different with the fifteen minutes. And each day I did not do the something different. So I decided I’m revealing to myself my true goal: to be depressed.
So I laid on the sofa with the dog for 15 minutes a day. And remember the part I told you about snowballing? Well that snowballed into two hours. That’s about as long as I can be in the mode of sleeping on the sofa in the middle of the day before the kids start to worry I’ve lost my ability to function.
I wonder if other people’s kids would start to wonder much earlier. I wonder if maybe it’s a litmus test of one’s parenting to see how long you can sleep on the sofa in the middle of the day before the kids think something is wrong.
Forget it. There’s no measure to tell if you’re a good parent. Which is why I’m obsessed with meeting goals. I want to accomplish something. I meet goals with my kids but it’s not like then I’m a good parent. Because meeting goals is not even what parenting is about — loving kids is what parenting is about. Not that you don’t know that. But I need to keep writing it to remind myself.
Wait. An aside: if my kids look back on these posts and think I was a bad parent, they should know that I do understand that the purpose of parenting is love. To the future daughter-in-law, twenty years in the future, who is telling my son that his mother fucked him up and she is not coming to Passover anymore because of family dysfunction: this is a record to show I understood what my job was and I did it. And also, wait until you have kids and see how hard it is to express love in a way that is not overbearing.
One of the ways I learned how to see the goal I’m not meeting is by coaching so many people who want help with the goal they are not meeting. Which is, like, almost everyone.
Probably the most common goal not being met is career advancement. Many people think their careers should be advancing no matter what. But in most cases the person doesn’t really care if their career advances, they just think they should care.
The second most common goal not being met is having a meaningful career. Many people think their career should have meaning. But in most cases the person doesn’t really believe that careers give meaning to life, they think jobs support what is meaningful in life.
The other way I learn how to see the goal I’m not meeting is to look at people who are not meeting the goal I want them to meet. Tonight that is Melissa.
It used to be that she took all the pictures for the blog. Then she moved and I emailed her pictures I take, and she edited them. Or deleted them if she didn’t like them. She was incredibly slow, but she was the best at it. We did that for a long time.
Then I moved to Swarthmore and she stopped doing it. She told me to use all the pictures she edited that I didn’t use. But I do not view this as a tongue-to-tail thing where we are eating the whole cow before we butcher a new one. I view this as a one-pancake-left thing where it doesn’t feel good to eat when you know you’re taking the only one that’s left. People like a choice of pancakes. That’s why restaurants serve a stack.
But the real problem is I don’t want to look at all the pictures of our life at the farm. I get sad every time, and then I never write. So I don’t care that there are a lot of photos I did’t use.
At first I was pissed that Melissa isn’t hearing how upset I’ve been. But the goals I set for Melissa should not be goals if she’s not meeting them. Just like the goals I set for myself should not be goals if I’m not meeting them.
So I am posting all the pictures of our move from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. I had no idea we would never go back to the farm. I feel ill and anxious every time I look at these pictures. I want the whole day out of the photo queue. So I’m putting it on the blog. I’m taking steps to meet my goal. This is the way I can move forward.
Melissa will tell you these pictures are evidence that she is right and there are plenty of pictures for me to choose from. But I see it as evidence that O’Hare is a patchwork of memorable ceilings that all make me sad.
And what is this picture? Even if you can’t identify this as the floor in Terminal C, you can identify this as the face of a dog that portends ominous doom.
If only I had paid more attention to the dog.
But really what would I have done differently? Probably nothing. I’m not the type to second-guess my decisions. One of the only times that still happens is when I flip through photos to add to my post. Now there are no more photos that makes me sad waiting in the queue. I used them all right here.
It’s my small specific step to move forward. And I’m taking action, because not being sad about what we lost when we moved is a goal that’s important to me. All the other goals; I guess I don’t want them as much I want this.