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  • Danielle Grain

A Goal Worth Fighting For

I have met lots of people in my life who are hesitant to set goals, especially once they are out of school and it's not required anymore. They say it feels like they are setting themselves up for disappointment or they just want to see where life takes them. I also have friends who annually set monster-long lists of items that are kind of insane. Some of the goals make me wonder: why do you want to do that? Do you even want to do that or just that it looks impressive?

I have been setting personal goals for myself since I was in 8th grade. As I have grown and gotten older I have found that I do best when I set goals for a season and work on them in smaller bursts. Typically, I set a few goals that will take the entire year to reach and then some I work on in about four-month chunks.

In 2012 I decided not to set any goals. I had just graduated with my bachelor's in literature, I was working full-time hours, and enjoying life. It was the least productive year I have ever had.

Then in 2013, I was approached via email by a psychology student from my alma mater to participate in something being called The Happiness Project based on the book by the same name. It was a goal setting project where we were to set goals according to The Happiness Project outline and report in how things went. By far 2013 has been my most productive year. I accomplished the most and was the happiest with myself for what I did.

However, I set goals that actually mattered to me. These were things I genuinely wanted to accomplish or get better at, not just bragging rights later.

I have never felt the need to be any certain kind of adult who had done special things. I know who I am and what I am aiming for. Thus, I set goals that mattered to me. They included fixing my sleep schedule, writing a rough draft of the book I was working on, learning family history, exercising regularly, learning to paint, and so on.

My advice in goal setting is to pick things that matter to you- items you genuinely want to accomplish. Perhaps, it's something you know you should do and you have that half-desire to want to do it. Go for it! Did I really want to fix my sleep schedule? Sort of. I was content as a night owl but that isn't always what's best for me, so I worked at it.

Being flexible in our goals is another important one. People seem to think that a goal abandoned is a failure. (Honestly, this is why I make short-term goals. Sometimes what I think I want to do changes. I may start off wanting to paint and four months I realize I want to go in an entirely different direction, so I change. I'm allowed to do that.) Goals can change, because the whole point is that goals change you. You are aiming to come out on the other side a different person that you are now. Allow yourself the grace to change and change your mind.

Not to mention you may suddenly discover a new passion for something. It's amazing how one trip to a museum or to the movies can change our stars. Suddenly life looks very different and we realize we desire a new path. Let yourself do that.

I would also add, keep in mind that often our goals can rely on outside forces- be flexible. If the craft store runs out of paint brushes thus making it impossible to complete our painting goals, be flexible. It's okay, I promise.

Years ago a friend shared her thoughts on setting goals and how to be well-rounded in our goals. Her personal philosophy was to aim for four categories: social, physical, intellectual, and spiritual (this probably sounds familiar to many people). I like this way to keep myself balanced because it is really easy for me to ignore a whole category on accident (I'm looking at you social...)

Setting and completing personal goals are just one way that we can work towards being who we want to be and making ourselves accountable for heading in the direction of our dreams. Take some time to plan out what you want to do- even just short term. What are you wanting to do, learn, discover in the next few months? Then plan accordingly. I'd love to hear what you are up to!

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