Juggling multiple goals

This is the season where goals are on people’s minds, mine included. That said, it’s perfectly fair if your primary goal is “I would like not to be so exhausted by external circumstances in 2022” but sometimes it can be energizing to make a little pile of things that are under your control and do something about some of them.

Admittedly I’m a control freak and identifying something I can do something about gives me the illusion that I’m not just a plaything of fate. So take what follows with that caveat in mind.

One of the challenges with having goals is that we often want a lot of different things at once, and while there’s nothing wrong with having high ambition, there is always the danger of scattering your energy. There’s also the problem of prioritizing: “Make $180,000 this year” and “work only about ten hours a week” are somewhat contradictory for those of us who aren’t independently wealthy.

So one step I always take when I’m looking at what I want to accomplish/attend to is to see how the goals interrelate. If they don’t – “become a pastry chef” and “eliminate sugar from my diet” – I try to see how they could relate: “become a pastry chef who uses the natural flavors of food rather than added sugar to make desserts taste good.”

If I don’t like how they relate, then I have to figure out which is my most important goal, and let go of the other: “I really want to be a traditional pastry chef and that will mean having some sugar in my diet and that is just going to have to be okay.” Life is imperfect. Accepting this is helpful for my mental health.

Sometimes I don’t know how to make goals relate: I want to make progress on a lot of things and all of them are of equal importance: I want Club Ed to succeed but I also have personal goal for my own writing. Taking time to do one takes away time from the other.

One thing I do to reconcile these competing goals is to realize that there is value in pursuing both – being a writer makes me a better teacher of storytelling techniques/editing, and being a teacher of storytelling techniques/editing makes me a better writer. So I give some time in my day to both, recognizing that this will make each goal take a little longer to achieve but that the synergy creates something that wouldn’t happen if I tabled one or the other.

Additionally, I often plan my work in themes: there are naturally some times of year when Club Ed is slower (right now, these times are summer and around the time of the winter holidays – late November into early January). These are natural opportunities for me to spend more time on my own writing.

Having lots of things you want to accomplish doesn’t have to mean scattering your energy or defeating your own purpose. But it does mean you to have pay attention to figuring out how to make them work together.

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