Why You Might Need To ‘Break’ Your Goals

Like a lot of people, I make big goals at the beginning of the year. But I’m also obsessed with making a bunch of smaller ones as the year progresses with specific times I’d like to see them completed. I’m such a list-making freak that I make these goals and sometimes even “sub-goals” to keep me on track.

Recently, despite all my borderline OCD behaviour, I missed a big mark. I wanted to have a certain goal accomplished “by the end of summer,” and well, autumn is here and I didn’t quite accomplish what I wanted.

One thing I have asked myself is, “Was my goal realistic?” In other words, did I really think that lazily drinking wine on the beautiful summer patio wouldn’t sometimes get in the way of me sitting at my computer?

I realize now that I need to be more realistic, let myself off the hook, and give myself another couple of months.

In the past, there have been a few goals I’ve made that never got done and I felt like a failure.  After several years of keeping these same goals on my list (take scuba diving lessons [despite being deathly afraid of deep water], learn to play the cello [despite a lack of love for classical music], buy a Mercedes [despite never having actually been inside one in my life]), I eventually had to admit that these weren’t really things I desperately wanted to do.

If you have a nagging goal or “to-do” on your list, ask yourself if it’s something you truly want or if it’s possibly coming from a dreamy ideal or even an outside pressure.

For me, I truly came to this realization when a few of my friends made knitting look so cool I thought I would learn too. But after two years of having those new needles and yarn beside my bed, I had to admit that it was not going to become my passion any time soon. Better that I just support my friends in their coolness and hopefully they’ll reciprocate with a nice pair of mittens.

It’s important and even fun to have goals, and it’s even great to make deadlines for yourself. When I meet my self-made deadlines and accomplish something on my list I feel great.

But it’s important that we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves, especially with all the other outside stresses going on. Going forward, there’s the possibility that I could myself down again, but I have to remember that if a goal is important enough to me, I know I will achieve it in due course.

How to Get Your Thirties ‘Just Right’.

For the past few weeks I’ve been talking about the idea that we are never too old or too young to do anything. Not to get too Goldilocks on you, but I think we should also look at what we consider, ‘Just right’. What are the expectations that we have for our thirties, and where did they come from?

Talking with other thirty-somethings I hear a lot of ‘Shoulds‘:

“I feel like I should be further in my career,”

“I should have made more money by now,” or

“I should have started a family already.”

Besides our biological clocks, there are tons of other pressure pushers out there from our parents, siblings and friends to, of course, television and magazines.

Questions about marriage, kids and career are not horrible questions in and of themselves, but they are the heavy burden of the thirty-something who is trying to develop all areas at once. What’s more is that these topics come up in conversation as seemingly light chit chat.  Personally, I find that parents are especially skilled at making conversation about things that make you feel like pulling your hair out. If you hear the words “mortgage rate” one more time…

So how do we quiet the noise and listen to our own inner voice telling us what we truly want to be doing?

The first step is to embrace that it’s not going to be easy. Try to forgive those around you by remembering that they’re only trying to know what you’re up to.  When I feel like I’m being grilled, I force a smile and do my best to accompany it with a positive and vague line like, “It’s great. I’m really enjoying learning about mortgage rates (urgg..) and I think we’ve made a decision.” Most of the time people will leave it at that since it seems you’re not looking to share exactly what that decision is.

Secondly, if the outside pressure to start a family, get married or the like starts to build, you might consider taking a step back from the social scene for a while. After a few two many inquisitions into our ‘pitter patter’ status, my husband and I avoided certain family gatherings for a while – no showers or engagement parties where we thought we’d be cornered. After a while, people either got the hint or had started to prey on my younger relatives. It can seem drastic to miss important events just to dodge a few ‘baby’ bullets, but sometimes people just don’t get that not everybody is as prompt as Kate and William!

As far as the pressure we put on ourselves, that’s a tough one. Basically we have to be okay with making mistakes until we get it ‘Just right’. We have to have faith in our own abilities and timing. And, most importantly, we must shake the negative thoughts that rear their ugly heads every time we get a baby shower invite or see someone’s career or relationship status change.

So, the moral of the story is that there’s no perfect age for anything, so go easy on yourself. Hold yourself to a high standard but no beating yourself up because of what you think you ‘should’ be.  At the end of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks runs back to her mother, never to wander off alone again. The idea isn’t that you give up and never try again. It’s that you absolutely try again and again, as long as it takes, until you get it ‘Just right’ for you.

Retire at 40!

Last week I talked about being too old for starting new things. This week I realized that the opposite is a popular excuse as well:  

I’m too young to have RRSPs or care about my pension plan. I’m definitely too young to think about retirement.

In our thirties, it may seem like being fifty or sixty is a long way away, but there’s no harm in planning for it, is there? With more and more companies cutting back on pensions or scrapping pension plans altogether, it’s worth putting your serious hat on for a moment.

Most of us think of the average age of retirement to be sixty or sixty-five but so many people are creating plans to retire at fifty and even forty!

Check out this couple who retired at forty.

Retirement at forty might seem unrealistic for you but I think it’s worth looking into – you’re never too old or too young to know your options and imagine freedom from work,  great abundance, and long-lasting happiness in the near future.

Just something to chew on!

Getting Over The “It’s Too Late For Me” Blues

Making a change is always hard and very often we make it harder on ourselves by acting defeated before we start. We’ve all said, I’m too old to start again, or It’s too late for me. The funny thing is that when a friend comes to us with the same woes, we tell them that they’re crazy and give a laundry list of reasons why they’re wrong.

So what is it that makes us only our own worst enemy?

Truly this is yet another way fear disguises itself and causes us to make excuses and back down. Any time we feel like trying something new, fear has a sly way of reminding you of the time you caught your dad dancing to hip hip. You’re too old for this, fear warns. And almost as quickly as your dad gets whiplash, you decide to stay in your comfort zone.

In our thirties, we often feel like we shouldn’t veer off the path we started paving in our twenties – it would be stupid to tear it all up and start again, wouldn’t it?

Or would it?

But is it really worth paving a road (yes, let’s stay with this metaphor) that you’re not even excited about riding on anymore?

If you’re in this position now, ask yourself this: In five years, will I be a person I respect if I keep doing what I’m doing? If your answer is no, then wouldn’t the next five years be better spent designing something new that inspires you and everyone around you?

I like to think of what will look worse – a safe and stable unhappy version of me or a risk-taking creative me that totally went for it?  In the end, is it really so bad that your dad secretly jams to G-Unit?  I mean, who doesn’t?

There’s probably some way that you can take a step towards the life you want even today. Make a call, do some research and tomorrow do it again. Eventually momentum builds and before you know it, you’ll be happily unrecognizable to yourself.

Today isn’t too late. You’re not too late. You’re not too old. The only time it’s too late is when you’re dead. Period.

So let’s get started!