As the new year dawns, blogposts abound on the topic of setting goals. But for me the word goal has a rather terrifying ring about it.
It sounds absolute, achieved or not achieved, final, judgmental, awe-inspiring and downright scary. Yet life has taught me that nothing is as black and white as achieving or not achieving a goal.
Experiences that feel negative at the time often turn out to be much more positive in retrospect due to a whole series of factors.
Even the reverse is sometimes true - when things we thought would bring us the most satisfaction turn out to be a mere blip on our life's satisfaction chart.
Rather than talking about setting 'goals', we can think instead of 'Identifying Landmarks' on our journey.
Landmarks suggest something exciting coming up in the near future to orientate ourselves by; a place to head because it helps to mark our progress not because it is necessarily an end in itself.
Thinking in this way of, say, an upcoming exhibition or the imminent release of a novel, helps to take some of the stress and scare out of it. There it is, bobbing on the horizon in front of us but what lies after it? Already we can allow ourselves to begin to wonder…
Target Dates not Deadlines
In the same way, we can think of 'Target Dates' rather than 'Deadlines'.
After all, it's not a life or death situation!
A Target Date is another kind of Landmark; something we're heading for which, whilst important, is probably not going ruin our lives if we don't make it.
I'm not suggesting that we start treating exhibition hanging dates, or publisher deadlines, with a make-it or leave it attitude but - rather than allowing our imagination to work up to such a peak that it feels as if our whole lives are in the balance - we can think of ourselves as working steadily towards our targets in a direct and purposeful arc aiming to arrive bang on centre (i.e. on time) having enjoyed the graceful trajectory that takes us there.
What has been your experience of setting goals especially for the new year?
Does changing the words you use to describe what you are aiming for help you feel differently about things you might achieve?
Share in the comments below