I had an unsettling realization a few weeks ago.
The only tangible goal I had recently spoken, set, and was working myself toward was watching One Tree Hill in its entirety on Netflix. 187 episodes, at about 50 minutes a pop, comes to roughly 9,530 minutes of One Tree Hill. Roughly 156 hours of One Tree Hill. Roughly 6.6 continuous days of One Tree Hill. Nothing against OTH, but it’s not even that good. (Not in a work your brain, learn something, and ponder the deeper themes of life kind of good -or even like, good acting kind of good. I felt less guilt over my Breaking Bad binge last year. That is good television.)
Up to 22 and a half years of living, life goals always seemed to simply manifest themselves naturally –finish the semester strong, graduate high school, survive student advertising, finish my bachelor’s, marry Austin, settle into a new apartment and city and find a killer job (checked off twice this year.) Now suddenly I’m settled, blissfully married, with a degree hanging in an office I generally enjoy walking into 5 days a week –and without realizing it, telling myself the next natural progression of my life was to discover the ending to every story line ever of One Tree Hill.
I was on episode 134. I felt pretty low.
Now was that really my only goal? No, something I quickly mentally established in a hurry to make myself feel like less of a sad 22-year-old gum-chewing-preteen. But realizing I had never said the things I wanted from myself at this point out loud was a little eye-opening. It made me think. There are very real things –life things, personal things, family things- that I want, but wasn’t actively doing anything about.
(I’ll pause here for you argumentative types. I know you’re out there, likely rolling your eyes at me and crafting catty responses in your mind I may or may never see. Sure, argue that life isn’t a simple list of goals to be checked, and how sad if it is. To your point, I’d argue the same. Life isn’t a compilation of goals, but I believe it’s somewhat healthy to be working toward something, to be a responsible steward of time in an effort to continuously learn and actively grow into the person God created us to be –using unique gifts and brainpower to learn and really know accomplishment.*)
I spent days of free time thinking about it –what did I want?– narrowing down 6 major “things” to work toward. Maybe for you it’s 3 or 7 or 12. (It killed me for like five minutes not having a good, solid number like 3 or 5 –but what do I do? “Nope, sorry number six, I realize you’ve been a life’s dream but you didn’t make the cut, you didn’t fit.” I tend to have a little Type-A Crazy inside of me from time to time. I had to suppress the urge to fit my goals inside the confines of a round number. I didn’t put an exact time on it, either, but in my mind I see it as a sort of 5ish-year-list.
Sharing my list feels really personal, and I don’t know if you and I are on that level yet. For the sake of making my point, though, I will divulge that one or two of my more fun “things” involve writing in some capacity. Consequently, I’ve been brainstorming (journaling, scrawling haphazard post-its, doodling) different, enjoyable habits I can be developing to help me meet those ends (better habits than watching the downward spiral of Chad Michael Murray’s fictional love life for hours on end. Sorry, Chad.) Like reading varied types of literature and “just fun” books and carving out dedicated writing time during the week -the types of hobbies I genuinely enjoy to help me develop the bigger picture. (Is my crazy showing again, or just my nerdiness?)
My 6 “things” ended up being, well, big. Each one of them have virtually a hundred tiny moving pieces, and sound pretty darn discouragingly impossible right now. But starting to figure out what each of those little pieces is, and realizing that I actually enjoy a lot of the little steps for some of them, makes them seem pretty darn possible.
It’s important for me to note that ultimately I fully believe God is in control, and His will is going to be done on or off my list. Completion of these goals isn’t a measurement of my worth or my life. (Then what’s the point? Let the asterisk* lead you a few paragraphs up.)
It’s also important for me to note that none of my “things” are professional –not one. I’ve had this little tendency to bury myself to the point of suffocation and physical illness under piles of what some people like to call workaholicism or whatever for pretty much as long as I can remember. (That’s right, I’m instinctively one of those fun “all work and no play types.”) I’d like to think I’m growing (and for goodness sake loosening up a little bit,) and that’s what part of this is about for me. Exploring gifts I enjoy, meeting and making milestones, and becoming a more productive steward of my money and time. Hopefully in doing this, also revealing opportunities to love God, my husband, and my friends & family a lot better than I have in the past. That’s probably the most important part.
I’m the type of visual person who writes and draws concepts out to make them feel more real. What about you? If you have any type of goal-realization system, goals you want to talk through, or ideas for me, I’d love to have a conversation -comment below or using the little thought-bubble-guy near the title!