Friday, 22 August 2014

Why I'm not setting goals or writing my Bucket List

The prompt was bucket list. It got me thinking. Do I have a bucket list?

Bucket list is such a strange term don't you think? Does it really stem from things I want to do before I kick the bucket? I guess it's similar to those books - 500 things I want to do or places to visit before I die. It's a rather peculiar term. As I approach 50, it makes me feel slightly threatened. I feel like it's shouting at me: 'Come on you - you'd better see these things or go to these places - time is running out you know.'  I feel pressurised by it and I guess that's why I don't have a bucket list.

I'm not a big goal setter either which is strange for someone who is a self-employed coach. Goals tend to feature heavily on the coaching agenda - what do you want to achieve, where are you now, what options/resources are available to you to help you reach the goal and how committed are you to getting there? It's all fine, I understand the concept and I have used it many many times successfully with clients, although I'd never force it upon them if they didn't want to go that route. You'll even see me writing about it on my business blog but each time I try and apply it to myself, it weighs me down. I feel a sense of overwhelm.

When I worked in corporate HR, goals were massive.

There were five year plans and annual goals and quarterly goals and monthly check-ins and a daily to do list and strategic goals and business goals and departmental goals and on top of that I also had to write training courses and programmes for Managers and staff on setting and achieving goals. Perhaps I am simply suffering from goal burnout. 

I'm rebelling. I'm being true to what feels right for me right now. I like to take a more gentle approach to how I live my life. I like to set intentions. If I meet my intention - that's great. But if I don't, I don't feel so bad. I don't beat myself up about it. Yet, when I don't meet a goal, I feel like a failure. What's the difference between an intention and a goal. I don't really know the answer to that and yet intention sits more comfortably with me at the moment.

I also don't set January resolutions - I hate the thought. Why would anyone want to set a resolution to do something on the 1st of January? It's usually cold, miserable and dark (well at least here in the UK). Christmas and New Year festivities are behind us and January feels like a long month ahead. I personally think if you want to make a change in your life - go ahead and do it - whatever day or month of the year it happens to be. Each day we wake up and begin is another opportunity for a fresh start in my opinion. Why wait for January 1st?

I do, however, like to set a word for  the year. I like to hold these words in my head, mull them over and apply them to events and happenings in my life. Last year my word was courage and I was on the radio three times and also published my first e-book. This year, my word is light. I have lost some weight and I'm trying hard to have a lightness of touch in my dealings with others, trying not to get too involved or participating in everyday dramas. It can be tough, but my annual word helps me focus.

I was intrigued earlier this year by an idea for a 100 day challenge. 100 days I can do. It doesn't stretch too far into the distance. It's manageable and didn't feel like it would weigh me down. I set my intentions over the 100 days and to date it's going ok. I feel at the end of the 100 days that I will have made good progress and I might even set a further 100 day challenge when this one ends. We shall see.

These are probably the reasons I don't have a bucket list. I did write one once a few years ago. It was pages and pages long. There seemed to be so many things I wanted to do. I love options, change and variety. I'm sure if I wrote another one today, and compared the two, it would be completely different. My husband said that I'd need to live until about 120 in order to fulfil my original list. Perhaps that's another reason for me not to write one.

I certainly admire all those people who have a bucket list and a set of goals. And don't get me wrong there are places I'd like to go and I'm sure there are others, that I don't yet know about, where I'd also like to make a trip and should the opportunity arise to go, I'd take it. Perhaps one day once goal burnout has receded, I too will return to this way of doing things. But for now I'll stick with my way and do what suits me.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Unwelcome Guests


I was in a writing funk yesterday. It really got a hold of me. I felt angry, sad, not good enough, a writing failure. All these negative emotions galloping around in my head. It seemed like they were having a good time hanging out there together, egging each other on, talking each other up. They were in no hurry to leave. As usual, I was a great host. I let them stay all day with me. I didn't tell them to leave. I fed them well - here I said why don't you meet guilt and while we're at it let me introduce you to self pity - I think you'll like her. She'll really add to the mix going on up there. And so they stayed and they partied and they trashed the place. They were loud and obnoxious and mean, really mean. Why on earth was I putting up with them? I don't remember inviting them - they simply turned up and rather than turning them away and saying "not today thanks," I let them in and gave them permission to trample all over me.

As they were being so noisy, I had to leave to find some quiet space. I went to the library. I sat in solitude and edited a story. I thought about other things I could write, I jotted down some ideas in a notepad. I listened to the whirr and click of the microfiche being used behind me. The noise in my head subsided somewhat. Things started to feel a little calmer. Back home, after reassurances (or more like giant waves of love and hugs) from a hugely supportive writer friend (you know who you are Ros) I was shown the way to a Blog post written by Tonia Hurst

I quietly read her words letting them sink deep into me. Much resonated but the line I couldn't get out of my head was: "I decided to write, regardless of all the risks." These were the words I needed to hear. They jumped up and down inside of me, causing a buzz of excitement and realisation. I realised that all these negative emotions had shown up to highlight my fears and "what ifs"

· What if you aren't good enough to write
· What if you can't actually do it
· What if you never get published
· What if everyone hates your work
· What if you can't finish a novel
· What if you're on a road to nowhere
· What if you don't make any money from this
· What if you fail at this

I also realised those emotions had turned up to show me some other things, positive things. They wanted to let me know how passionate I am about writing. How do I know? Well, frankly why would I experience such anger and frustration over a subject that meant nothing to me. I also recognised they were here to protect me. If I felt sorry for myself and decided not to write ever again, it would be ok. I wouldn't have to worry or think about all those "what ifs" that lay ahead of me. In the end, I actually felt quite grateful for their visit.

A new guest arrived early this morning. Her name is Hope. She brought new "what if" messages that sound like this:

· What if you are good enough
· What if you can do it
· What if there is every possibility of you being published
· What if some people love your work
· What if you are able to finish a novel
· What if you're on the road to somewhere wonderful
· What if you're able to make enough money from this joyful activity
· What if you succeed

So this morning I raised my other guests from their heavy slumbers, and with love and forgiveness, I thanked them for visiting and requested that they leave now. This freed up some space and so Hope invited some of her friends along. They are called Belief, Courage, Curiosity, Kindness and Love.

And so today I write, regardless of the risks.

Thank you Tonia.