I recently looked at my list of actions for 2017 that is posted on my bathroom wall and noticed that one of my goals was not going to be met. And I did not have a good reason as to why it was not accomplished by now. The goal was to post 12-15 blog articles this year, and since I had the habit of writing an article for each monthly newsletter, I figured this would be an easily attained goal. However at the beginning of the year I could not see that far into the future to know that I would not manage to write one for the December newsletter and in doing so create a challenge for myself in attaining this goal.
That did not sit well with me since I was the only person responsible for it, and I could not blame anyone else for mismanaging my time and preventing me from writing the article. Part of me was looking at this as a failure which could have easily been avoided if I would have found a way to write the article in time for the December newsletter. At the end of November, I was able to find (what I thought were) good reasons for justifying my inability to write it, but now I see that choice has now made me work harder at the end of the year to accomplish my original goal. It just delayed the work. It didn’t make it disappear.
I could choose to take the easy route. Do no work and be okay with calling myself a failure. Or I could do some work and achieve the goal.
Relax and fail. Work and achieve. Relax or Work. Fail or Achieve. The choice is mine.
Inside of the thought of failing to meet this goal was an invitation down a rabbit hole of self criticism and judgments that my shadow could use to dim my light. My shadow could direct my attention towards looking for reasons to explain why I did not reach one of my goals for the year, and it could keep me from seeing that there was still time left in the year to get it done. By getting me to search for the reason that I did not write that article and manage my time better, I would not be able to look at the present or towards the future and see that there was still a possibility for me to reach that goal
There are some times when going down that rabbit hole of questions in search for reasons is a good idea when looking for answers regarding lifelong problems for which you want to break cycles of suffering in your life, but this invitation down the rabbit hole was to turn my attention away from the fact that there was still time to achieve this goal and keep me in a holding pattern preventing me from any form of action.
First, I had to REALIZE that I was fixated on one way of looking at the problem.
I only saw one way of accomplishing the goal and that was by connecting the blog to the monthly newsletter.
Second, I had to LOOK in a different direction.
What if the blog was not attached to the monthly newsletter? Could the blog be independent? Could I write the blog at any time?
Third, create a S.M.A.R.T. GOAL.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timed.
Fourth, set a PLAN OF ACTION.
When am I going to write and post the blog article?
And Fifth, ACT.
This is often the most challenging step. Without action, nothing is accomplished.
I was able to free my gaze from looking at a failure in the past and turn it to look into the future by questioning my assumptions and opening up new possibilities. From there I was able to create a new goal.
New Goal: Write one blog article before the end of the year.
It’s Specific: One blog article.
It’s Measurable: I either write it on time or I don’t.
It’s Attainable: I have the ability to write an article.
It’s Reasonable: It is in the realm of possibilities of something I can do.
It’s Timed. The article has to be posted before 11:59:59pm on 12/31/17.
At this point I had a choice. The plan was there, and everything was in alignment to achieve this goal. Yet there was still the possibility of failure if I didn’t follow through and follow step 5.
This is another space where my shadow can show up and freeze me from moving in the direction of accomplishment by getting me stuck in my thoughts, but this is also the space where my light can shine brightly and assist me on the path to achievement. This is where I had to choose and commit to which outcome I wanted to live with. It was all in my hands now.
Do I choose to stay in the darkness of the shadow and call myself a failure or do I choose to move towards the light and walk the illuminated path of accomplishment? How do I want to feel about myself? Can I live with the consequences of the choice I make?
Ultimately I chose to feel good about myself rather than seeing myself as a failure.
And here we are. I wrote the article, and I chose to move forward with the light. No regrets this time, but I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time the shadow tries to dim my light and prevent me from growth and accomplishment.
These battles and choices happen all of the time in the mind. Improving our ability to recognize our thoughts can help us make better choices in our lives. Slow down and pay attention to what you’re thinking. It just might be the difference between happiness and suffering.
Have a safe New Year’s Eve!