Nathan wrote recently about our need to set goals for 2012. He wrote about the part where we revisit old goals and see if they are still relevant today. The truth of the matter is that I think that I had a full year of almost accomplishing nothing. The odd thing is that I did do a lot of work on a lot of different goals. I even accomplished a few. The problem is the comfort zone.
The reason why I think all the self-help gurus make a big deal out of stepping out of your comfort zone is not because we all need to grow as people and whatever. I think it’s because we all have goals somewhere in our heads that we never get to. Year after year we think that we need to do one or more very particular goals, but they require a little discomfort or a little risk. Maybe even a lot of discomfort or a lot of risk, but if you have a goal that is that crazy then it’s possible you should either drop it or reevaluate it to find a less risky, less painful approach.
The biggest problem I have is the amount of stuff I want to accomplish. I can never seem to reel it in. I can never seem to find the exact focus that I need to accomplish something big. I just keep doing bite-sized portions of each goal hoping that one day the goal will have no choice but to be accomplished.
Beyond that I have a problem of time. I think the most important goal that I could have is the most important goal I set last year, which is to devote the amount of time to accomplishing goals that I really need to. I was doing this at the start of 2011, and I was accomplishing many things. Then somewhere along the way I got burned out with the number of hours I was working and I found myself becoming less and less diligent about making sure I was spending eight hours a day on project work.
I have a job that allows that kind of focus, so eight hours a day may not be reasonable for everyone, but I think that in the long run, finding a reasonable amount of time for you that you can spend on your goals each day is probably the most important goal. You don’t have to keep yourself on a time clock if you’re good with time and naturally fall into a routine when you’re working on a project. If you have the focus to work on something every day, then that is probably more your goal, spend some time each day furthering your goals, and make good leaps of progress frequently.
For me, I have to be a little more intentional about the time. I was working a fire watch at the start of the 2011 at an apartment building for seniors. It was all indoors, and you had to have access to get in. Since it was a fire watch, I wasn’t there to walk around knocking senior skulls together (because they don’t really form gangs or claim territory). I was there simply to walk the building once and hour and make sure there was no smoke. It wasn’t hyper-vigilance. It was just how the laws read. If your sprinklers are out you need someone to walk around once an hour. I used the time to read “Watership Down” since I was limited by what I could do. I was at that post for 12 hours and I kept track of the time I spent reading. It wasn’t quite eight hours, and that was the ideal situation for spending that kind of time on a project or goal.
I believe I could have done better this year, and it’s because I’m not convinced that I spent the amount of time that I feel I should have working toward goals. I know I did a pretty good job most days, and I know that if I would just pick a goal at a time, I could do better at completing projects. But since I tend to be all over the place, my most important goal will be to make sure that I spend eight hours a day working on projects and goals, whether it’s something long term and serious (building a publishing empire) or short term and somewhat frivolous (reading books published by current publishing empires). The point is to spend the time on it, so that I know that I’m making the right amount of progress. I mean, if I spend one third of my life on projects and goals, I think I can say I gave it a real try, right?