Who Needs Goals?

It's that time of year. The time when we get to begin anew. Forget January 1st as the kick-off day for goals and resolutions. I've always been a December girl when it comes to starting over. My usual pattern is that I'm admirably disciplined the first 3-4 months of the year, a little less during the summer, and by late fall I can be found vegetating on the couch watching back-to-back marathon episodes of "Chopped." Right now I'm so sick of my sloth-like behavior I can barely stand myself. It's time for a change. 

I read a blog post the other day about achieving without goals. I'm intrigued. I want 2012 to be a year of purpose but I like the author's premise that goals won't necessarily get you there:

"You don’t need goals to tell you what to do. You know what to do. You’re excited about doing it already — you just need to focus, and get to it. 

 Goals keep you focused on something in the future, instead of being present and enjoying what you’re doing right now. Goals keep you fixed on one path, which might not be the best path in a week or a month or a year. They keep you fixated on one thing, rather than being open to new opportunities, being flexible as the landscape changes, being free to pursue something you’re newly passionate about rather than sticking to something you’re tired of."

The thought of spending my days pursuing my passions is ever-so-more intriguing than working my way through a checklist of mini sub-goals and timelines. 

Here's a simple example. Blair and I are spending the next couple of days cleaning closets out around the house. Sounds like a horrible must-do task, right? Wrong! We love it. We are ruthless as we pick through what stays and what goes and everything gets a nice new home on a freshly dusted shelf. Makes me happy just to think about it.

And that's the point. We (and yes, Blair's psyched about it too) are looking forward to it because--sad as it may be--we have a passion for that sort of culling out of old things and bringing order to our home. But I can almost guarantee that if I had made a checklist of "things we need to get done over the holidays" and put "clean closets" on the list, we'd be dragging our feet. How you approach a task is important. 

I'm going to try to carry that into 2012. I'm sure I'll never fully give up my beloved checklists but I do want to work on being more excited and focused on whatever it is that's in front of me at any given time, whether that's writing, reading, running, petting a cat, spending time with Blair and friends, cooking, etc. 

So in 2012 I want to live life with intent and passion. (But shhh... just don't call it a goal.)



Does Running A Marathon Give You An Edge Up On Life?

Any Biggest Loser fans out there? How amazing was it when Daris finished his marathon in 4:02? I know I was bouncing on the edge of my seat, screaming in joy at the TV as he crossed the finish line. A few weeks earlier I had doubted whether he'd really run a 5K in just over 21 minutes. No more doubt. That boy is a runner through and through.

What interests me when someone completes a marathon for the first time is how often they talk about how now that they've completed a marathon, they know they can tackle anything in life. In the pages of Runner's World magazine or on blogs, runners talk about pulling strength and conviction from having survived what is quite often a grueling race and translating that into a can-do attitude for their home, family, and career.

I'm envious. I'm enormously proud of being a marathon runner but, for me, having completed a marathon means that I know I am capable of completing a marathon. I don't suddenly feel more confident as a writer, friend, or wife. I don't hold a quiet inner certainty that I can now handle whatever life throws at me. On the contrary, I like running because, unlike life, I feel it's something [somewhat] within my control. Give me 26.2 miles and I know I can get the job done. Tell me to sit down and write a novel and the panic sets in. 

I admire people who can translate accomplishments in one area of their life over to give them strength in another. Seems healthy. Me, I'm a bit too compartmentalized for that. Running is running, writing is writing, marriage is marriage... you get the idea. 

Still, I wouldn't trade the satisfaction I've felt at finishing all my marathons (even the horrible awful super-painful one) for anything. I feel good about myself for having set a goal and achieved it. Maybe that's the satisfaction runners are referring to. 

What about all of you? Have you accomplished something in one area of life that you feel has given you confidence in other areas?