Feeling Like a Failure? Lower Your Expectations!

antidepressants_funnyWhen I was working in production in Los Angeles, my boss and friend, Tom made a point of sitting down every January to write out his personal and professional goals for the year. At the same time, he’d revisit his previous list to determine which goals he’d successfully completed, which ones he’d fallen short on, and which ones to reevaluate and revise going forward. Thankfully, he got me in the habit of doing the same.

Now, I’m great at writing down my goals for the year, but I have to admit, I kind of suck at looking back and evaluating my success. I’d like to believe it’s because I’m such an optimist, always looking to the future with no time to dwell on negatives. Sadly, pretty much everyone who knows me, knows that’s far from the truth. In reality, looking back at things I intended, but failed, to do is just really f*cking depressing and I generally like to avoid it at all costs.

This January, however, I am forcing myself to confront the 2014 list and acknowledge my progress (or lack thereof). Lucky me, I also ran across my goals for 2013, so I have even more data to consider…and to haunt me for the next twelve months. Without further ado, let’s strip me bare and judge me. It’s for my own good.

My Goals for 2013

  1. Heal back and neck
  2. Get fit
  3. Drink green smoothie or juice every day
  4. Atlanta or LA — make a decision and make it happen!
  5. Get a job (or not, depending on #4)
  6. Get finances in order (Make appointment with financial planner)
  7. Refinance house
  8. Be more creative (drawing and writing)
  9. Read more nonfiction
  10. Exercise brain — learn one new thing every day
  11. Learn French
  12. View aging as an interesting science experiment, not a failure
  13. Stay in better touch with family and friends
  14. Spend the holidays on a beach

Reading through it now, I find this list charming in its naivaté. 2015 is looking back at it and shaking its head with a knowing smile. “Aw, bless 2013’s heart…so young, so hopeful…” There are exactly two items above that I can cross off with authority. I have, indeed, been more creative, with writing at least. And, I suppose cake decorating. I have also succeeded in reading more nonfiction. So there, 2013!

As far as the other thirteen items on the list go, well, I can say I gave at least most of them a shot. I actually did get more fit and drank a lake of green smoothies in 2013. Had I evaluated this list in January of 2014 as previously scheduled, I’d have proudly checked off those two goals. But no, I had to give myself an additional year to backslide on my fitness progress and go on a kale strike. So, let’s say success in 2013, less so in 2014.

I did French lessons online and was very consistent for a few months. Unfortunately, as I wrote more, I conversely spent less time studying French. You’ll see that this trend continues through 2014. Something had to give! There are only so many hours in the day! I have two children and a puppy to raise! Other excuses like that!

Goal number four is the one that makes me chuckle the most (sometimes, we laugh to hide the pain). This particular goal…deciding between staying in Atlanta or moving back to Los Angeles…has been on every single one of my annual goals lists since our first January in Atlanta. I’ve made exhaustive pros and cons lists for each possibility and the race always ends in a dead heat, hence, the inaction. I suppose we’re choosing to stay where we are by not choosing to leave. Alas, the internal cage match continues. And, now, on to my goals for 2014:

Things I Will Do In 2014:

  1. Paint our bedroom
  2. Spend more time writing
  3. Spend way less time aimlessly wandering around on the internet
  4. Read four classic books I should have read in high school
  5. Exercise five times a week…even if just thirty minutes of walking
  6. Learn to bake a pie
  7. Practice French five days a week
  8. Have at least two girls’ weekends away
  9. Get back to LA
  10. Cook one new recipe a week
  11. Write at least two blog posts a week
  12. Build a file of blog posts so I’m not always playing catch-up
  13. Volunteer at the girls’ school
  14. Meet with financial planner
  15. Introduce kids to one new veg and one new fruit each week
  16. Take a knife skills class

Reading through this list, you’ll see that I attempted to be much more firm with myself. No more of that wishy-washy “get fit” or “learn French” crap. This time, I threw some numbers behind my promises…”practice French 5 days a week.” Five and nothing less! How is one supposed to succeed unless one has her goals very clearly defined?

I started off 2014 strong. Did I paint my bedroom? Yes, I did! Did I spend more time writing? Absolutely! Did I spend way less time aimlessly wandering around on the internet? Well, um, not exactly. But, I did take one whole week off from my computer. That should count for something, right?

I managed to get away for one girls’ weekend this year. Fifty percent isn’t too bad. I started walking at least thirty minutes a day starting from when we brought Birdie home and taught her to walk on a leash (a triumph in itself). I also started doing hot yoga, which I thought I would hate, but ended up loving. Hey, I could count that as learning something new! Oh, never mind…that was 2013. As for doing actual, vigorous exercise at least five days a week, well, that was a lofty goal so I’m giving myself a pass on that one. On this year’s list, I’ll shoot for a much less onerous three times a week. Or maybe twice. Twice is good.

Actually, that may be just what I need to do in order to reach a 100% success rate…make my goals less ambitious! In an effort to end this post on a positive note, I have drafted a list of goals for 2015 that I know I can achieve:

MommyEnnui’s Far More Attainable Goals for 2015:

  1. Get out of my pajamas at some point every day (even if just to change into a fresh pair)
  2. Make a healthy, non-processed meal containing actual fruits or vegetables once a week
  3. Complete the Monday New York Times crossword puzzle at least once a month
  4. Walk the dog a minimum of once a day
  5. Think about getting a job
  6. Listen to others tell me what an important job I’m doing as a stay-at-home mom (try to believe it)
  7. Volunteer at the girls’ school, or at least boldly write my name on the sign-up sheet and then claim I have an unforeseen conflict when the date rolls around
  8. Learn to bake a pie (I’m adding this one, because I plan to do it this weekend. I’ve even bought ingredients. See? I’m well on my way to success!)
  9. Learn to see aging as a natural process that occurs between Botox appointments
  10. Speak to my husband in the evenings instead of sending him an occasional text from the adjacent couch while watching Project Runway
  11. Stop believing I’ll ever make a decision whether to stay in Atlanta or move back to LA
  12. Apply sunscreen to my face at least as often as I sunscreen my tattoos

Think I can check off twelve out of twelve when next January rolls around? I’m suddenly feeling more confident than I have in years! This is going to be very good for my self-esteem. How about you? What are your goals for the year? Need help making them more achievable? I’m here for you.

8 thoughts on “Feeling Like a Failure? Lower Your Expectations!

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