I've written about my black-and-white tendencies before. Today, I want to acknowledge on behalf of myself and other perfectionists out there that such tendencies can make this time of year pretty difficult.
Like many of you, I made some goals for 2017 (see above), some of which I accomplished, and others that I didn't. In reviewing them, I show no mercy to myself; I either aced my goal or failed it completely. If you're a fellow perfectionist, you can relate. Here are a few ideas I have that could make goal-reviewing (and goal-setting) a little more bearable.
This is sound advice that my husband and I received in our marriage counseling. In an argument, it's typically not a good idea to accuse the other person of doing something "all the time," or "every time," or "never." It's ALWAYS better to focus on the present situation (see what I did there?), aka how a sweater is on the floor and not in the laundry hamper, vs. globalizing about how someone NEVER puts ANY laundry away.
I think this principle can extend beyond relationships as well. Applying it to my own goals, instead of thinking "I didn't meet my creative writing goal AT ALL because I didn't write EVERY day," I can recognize that in fact, I did a great deal more writing in 2017 than I did in 2016. I took some big steps like taking a creative writing workshop, submitting a story to a competition (and yes, even The Sun Magazine!), attending a regular critiquing workshop, and resuming the practice of jotting down interesting tidbits I hear throughout the day to serve as inspiration during times of writer's block.
By looking at the big picture of progress, I see the growth I made toward the unwritten, but implied, goal of becoming a better writer. I also see opportunities for more signposts I can set up for myself in 2018, such as planning writing retreats, taking classes that will push me in new directions, or signing up for online tools to identify writing competitions I can enter on a regular basis.
Show Yourself the Grace You Show Friends.
Through several podcasts and people I follow on Instagram, I've recently noticed a very refreshing trend encouraging people (especially women) to show ourselves the same grace that we show others. Let's face it; most of us are much harder on ourselves than we are to strangers, let alone our good friends and family. Going into this new year, why don't we extend the same love, support, and encouragement to ourselves that we show our loved ones?
I recently read Amy Poehler's "Yes Please," and I loved something she said in it. When she catches herself thinking a negative thought about herself, she (tries to) tell herself, "Don’t say that about Amy! She’s my friend.” I love this not only because we share a first name, but because it's so true: we believe the best about our friends, and that they're capable of so much more than they realize. If I was reviewing a friend's 2017 goals with her, I wouldn't say she's a failure because she didn't get published in her favorite literary magazine. I would say "but hey, you submitted something to them! That's a great first step. Maybe next year you can submit a few more pieces."
Remember the Curve Balls.
We may write down some goals at the start of the new year, but sometimes things happen that we just didn't see coming, both good and bad. If you had told me a year ago that I would be writing for clients ranging from farms to startups to nonprofits to a professional dog de-skunker, I probably wouldn't have believed you. If you had told me a goal of mine should include "learn Excel macros," I definitely wouldn't have believed you. A year ago, I didn't even have a Facebook account, let alone a blog. Now, I'm tuning into podcasts about catchy headlines, SEO best practices, and boosted Facebook posts. Needless to say, none of these topics were included in my 2017 goal list.
But the curve balls, and how we respond to them, is exactly what we should be celebrating! Your boss may have strongly encouraged you to pursue a challenging certification, or a client project may have forced you to learn how to proof using the Chicago Manual of Style ... just because you didn't choose something as a goal for yourself doesn't mean it's not an accomplishment worth celebrating. I give you (and myself) permission to look beyond last year's goals when we consider the year in review. And to get the party hats out.
What do you think of New Year's goals? How do you keep them? How do you set them? Let me know in the comments below! You also may like these posts about goals and dreams: