I often preach the value of setting attainable, written goals on this site and stress the importance of following through and holding yourself accountable to those goals.
There’s one thing that I’ve never really talked about though. What happens if you set a goal that seemed attainable at first, but then in practice ended up being virtually impossible? Far too often, I think, a person will try for a bit to “catch up”, but eventually get to a point where they fall so far behind they just give up entirely.
I’d say this is most prevalent in diet or exercise programs, but that’s probably because weight loss and exercise are two of the most common goals people set for themselves. In reality, aiming too high can kill off changes of achieving goals you set in any aspect of your life.
The solution isn’t anything fancy. It’s quite simple, in fact. If you’re not hitting your daily, weekly, or monthly goals, you just need to re-evaluate first yourself, then the goals you set. If you’re missing your dates to the gym, but are current with the eighteen sitcoms you watch, then unattainable goals aren’t the problem. Discipline is.
On the other hand, if you’re not watching three hours of TV every day or hitting the bar every night, but are still working and working only to fall further behind, then you really might be biting off more than you can chew and it’s time to scale back a bit.
To use myself example, I started out the year with the goal of submitting one new short story every month, as well as resubmitting rejections, finishing a novel, working on this blog, and continuing to promote as much as is humanly possible. I failed to factor in my two-hours of commuting and the fact that we have four young kids. I started falling behind on the short story submissions (in February, but don’t tell anyone) and have not made a lot of progress on the novel either. Now with this year 3/4 of the way over, I had to swallow my pride and modify my goal list. I started by setting a priority on each goal, with the idea that the first must be completed before moving on to the next.
In my case, Theme of Absence is still the most important thing because it involves other writers, but after that, the blog and podcast are still the highest priority because we all know what happens to blogs as soon as they fall off a regular posting schedule. The time between posts increases as the audience decreases and eventually the whole things ceases to exist. Anyhow, the next thing on the priority list is the next novel. I set up a very tiny daily word count goal, and while I usually don’t recommend doing that, I’m giving it a try this time.
We’ll see how that works, but my overall point here is to show that if you’re having trouble achieving your goals, sometimes your only option is to re-evaluate them and adjust accordingly. It’s better to do that then to risk frustration, lack of interest, and ultimately giving up.
What about you? How do you adjust when you’re having too much trouble reaching your goals? Leave a comment and let us know!