I’ve Spent Most of My Life Not Having Goals

I am not a goal-oriented person. In fact, all my life I’ve been told I lacked ambition. I was the student who wouldn’t do my homework because I’d been watching TV or was tired after soccer practice. I LOVED soccer, but I only ever played rec league because it didn’t force me to care or put too much effort in. I was the kid in class who was always surprised about tests (Literally always saying, “Crap I totally forgot about that.”). I cared about where I went to college for the things I’d be able to do while there. Honestly, it was surprising that I did well enough in high school and got into a nice college at all.

It wasn’t that school came easy for me and I didn’t need to study. In fact, my grades always suffered until the last month of school when I spent everyday trying to play catch-up with everyone else in class. It’s a bad idea and I don’t recommend it to anyone trying to accomplish anything in life. It drove my parents and classmates crazy, but I hated being forced to regurgitate boring information that seemed useless.

This apathy towards personal growth has led to…well a lack of personal growth. I’ve never used New Year’s resolutions to try and improve my life, and every year has passed mostly the same.

In the few years since college, I’ve tried to implement small changes in my life to improve myself. It has been hard because I’m not used to pushing myself and because there is literally always something else I’d rather be doing.

It occurs to me that I’ve had goals before, they were just intangible and hard to quantify and changed every day. Things like, “I’ll go to more things I’m invited to,” “I won’t watch as many shows this year (okay I’ll watch less old shows), “I’ll only have one three cookies with dinner,” or “I’ll do something that scares me.” Sticking with something has never has been my strong suit, and it showed in my life.

When I decided to set concrete goals, I started with something I love. Last year I set a Goodreads reading goal for myself: I said I would read 50 books. I figured I was probably doing that anyway, but now I would be accountable if I didn’t. I’ll be honest it stressed me out. I was afraid I wouldn’t meet my goal and all my talk of endless reading would be thrown into question, which is an incredibly dramatic way of looking at it. I mean no one but me would’ve really cared if I didn’t read 50 books. I actually ended up reading 56, but that’s neither here nor there. This year I set a reading goal for myself of 75 books, which is probably crazy but we’ll see how it goes. By February 1st I had already read 13 books, so I feel that might go alright.

This year I’ve added working out twice a week when I’m in town. I travel a lot for business and I cannot run the risk of working out in a hotel gym and have my boss come in. But while I’m at home I can go, and I have been. This leads me to wanting to be healthier in general. It makes me more conscious of what I’m eating, how much money I’m wasting when I don’t go to the gym, or just sit at home on my butt and stuff my face with chicken nuggets.

Trying to read more and eating better are pretty standard goals. If there was a “how to have goals” starter pack it would come with those, but I’ve also recently realized that just because I’m 25 doesn’t mean I can’t change. I’d like to be kinder, less prone to be angry, and STOP APOLOGIZING for things that aren’t my fault. I’m not 100 years old yet and set in my ways, and these goals have no concrete checkpoints, but it doesn’t mean I should ignore them and not try to be happier and make myself a better person.  

I still don’t consider myself a goal-orientated person. I still cringe when people talk about overhauling their life every January 1st. But I’ve come to realize that these small changes make me feel better about my life and happier, and that’s all I really want—to be happy.   

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