Goals are pretty universally seen as a good thing. They help you be mindful of what you’d like to achieve, they keep you on track, and they’re a great way of measuring your accomplishments.
In my experience, though, goals have sometimes caused undue stress. In fact, some past goals of mine have actually been harmful to me. Especially for people with perfectionistic tendencies, goals may not be the best way to work towards improvement. So I’d like to share my experience and offer some suggestions for alternative ways of tracking your aspirations.
I believe that everyone has creativity, whether you consider yourself a creative person or not. And one thing I think we can all agree on is that creativity comes and goes. It’s like this blessing of a mood that gets bestowed upon you. Sometimes, you can call and call and call for it and it won’t show up. But what’s one way that you can bring it upon yourself? You can make sure that you show up every day. If you’re ready to be creative every day, you’ll never miss creativity’s surprise appearance. But if you don’t allow yourself the time to welcome it, it’s going to find that your door is locked and move on without a visit.
When I was in high school, I had tons of creative energy. I used to write prose poetry nearly every day, and I’d write short stories that I don’t know how I’d ever come up with today. In the past 6 months or so, I’ve been trying to reclaim the imagination I had when I was younger. If you’re in a bit of a creative rut, here’s what has helped me.
For my Work in Progress Wednesday goal this month, I wanted to use December as an opportunity for reflection. I’ll be honest and say that most of my reflecting happened in the past week and a half or so because this Christmas was just so busy. So while this wasn’t something I necessarily had on my mind all month, I do believe that thinking back has made an impact on my mindset in the last 10 days.
For me, one of my favorite things to do—or something I’m rather naturally inclined to do—is to reflect on the past in order to decide my path for the future. As I got thinking, I decided to share what my most important lessons were month by month. Here’s a look back on my 2018 and all the lessons I learned.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows what it’s like to have a gut feeling about something. But have you ever thought about where it comes from? How do we just know something? Is it instinctual? Is it something we’ve previously learned that we have just mostly blocked from memory? Or is it something else?
I consider myself an intuitive person. And if you want to know me at all, you should know that my intuition is an essential part of who I am and how I live my life.
Growing up, Thanksgiving wasn’t really on my list of favorite holidays. I honestly don’t have too many memories of Thanksgivings, and it could be because Christmas has always been very important to my family. I’ve jokingly referred to Thanksgiving as “Christmas 0.5,” because my family didn’t have too many traditions that made Thanksgiving stand out—it was basically like Christmas a month before Christmas, without the great music and cookies and gifts. But the holiday changed for me when I began seeing Jake.
I failed my goal for October.
For years, failure has been my greatest fear, so to admit to you that I did not succeed in reading two books last month is not easy for me. A few years ago, I probably would’ve just lied and written this post about how satisfying it was to improve myself by reaching my goal. Instead, I’m writing a post about why failure is ok and how I learned more about improving myself from not succeeding this past month.
For me, November 1st has long been the first day that I allow myself to publicly express my excitement for the holidays. I’d start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas around the middle of October (Halloween has never been my thing), but I’d keep my mouth shut about it until the next month. After November 1st, all bets are off and you can assume that our conversations may involve gift ideas and seasonal recipes.
Baking has been a hobby of mine since I was little, though I didn’t really start to educate myself on techniques and start making things from scratch until after college. I eased myself into it by recreating some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes by myself (I always baked with my mom as a kid), and I quickly realized that I loved trying new recipes too.
There’s something special about baking in November and December–something about filling your house with the scent of warming spices and heating your kitchen with an oven instead of a radiator. But it’s about more than just the sensations. Baking takes care of you when the weather is cold. It fulfills some needs that I think everybody has, so here’s why I think everyone should bake during the fall and winter.
When I graduated from college in 2015, I remember that one of my first thoughts was I’ll never have a summer break again. When you’ve been a student for nearly the first 22 years of your life, transitioning to working full-time year-round can be kind of daunting. Why is it that all the things that add up to the challenge of adulting only manage to reveal themselves as they require head-on confrontation? Three years into post-grad living, I’m learning that that’s life. It just keeps on coming. Then you think, Alright. Here we go. Another challenge to surmount. And then you do it.
But what happens when you get tired?
When Jake and I moved into our house after getting married, I told him, “I will not live in a house that looks like a college dorm.”
Aside from being sick of the kind of décor I had had on my walls since high school, I really wanted to live in a place that felt like home. After graduating from college, I lived in three different apartments in two years. Things weren’t permanent, they weren’t inviting, and they definitely weren’t inspiring. When we got married and got the opportunity to rent what is right now the perfect house for us, I was determined to make this space into something I had yearned for for years.
I knew that I wanted to be an English major by the time I was 14. English was not only a subject that I did well in, but it was also one that actually held my attention. I was an editor and contributor for the school literary magazine, and I even came third in a school-wide poetry recitation contest. But I always had trouble saying, “I like reading.”
Let me first say that I love books. I love holding a book in my hands. Mid-size paperbacks with soft pages and flexible spines−man, they are the best. I like walking around knowing that I have a book in my bag, that I could close out the world and just focus on the piece of work in my hands. If I wanted to. I’m so comfortable in bookstores, and libraries make me feel the kind of excitement you get before you go to see a show. But I wouldn’t be 100% honest if I said, “I like reading.”