I Failed at Almost Every Goal I Set for 2015 and the World Didn’t End
Well, if you’re someone who actually checks in from time to time, you know that this blog has been neglected for a few months. This isn’t to say I haven’t been writing, I actually have nine drafted posts, some almost finished and some not even close. Blogging is just one of many habits/hobbies that have taken a hit for me this year due to depression.
Depression has been a leading theme for me this year. It’s difficult and feels vulnerable to admit it, but I’ve always found it really important to be open about mental health issues to lessen the associated stigma. I don’t want to write about it at length because that’s not the point of this entry, but I wanted to just acknowledge that I’ve been depressed for most of this year and it’s a big part of why this blog died for a while. The TL;DR on this is that I expected leaving my job was going to cause immediate happiness… and it didn’t. Womp womp. Lesson learned. So I am depressed and old coping mechanisms aren’t working. I’m super actively working on coming up with better coping mechanisms and making some positive changes, but maybe I’ll write about those another time. In the meantime, I did write a short article over at Medium about some small changes I’ve made, it’s here if you want to check it out.
On to the point of this blog post, today I took a look at my blog post about my goals for 2015. I not only failed at most of the goals I listed (I achieved 5/20), but I didn’t even remember having listed half of them! I guess I wasn’t so serious about some of those changes after all.
I wrote about failing at my goal to walk 3000 miles in 2015, and I’ll add a chart of my expected vs. actual monthly miles, but I decided not to touch on all of my failures in 2015 because it just feels too negative. Some of these failures I’m bummed about (meditation) and some of them I don’t care about much (building a lightbox). Failing to keep your resolutions is common, and I’ve recently been reminded of how important failing is for getting ahead. So I am going to leave those failures in 2015, and focus more on looking at why things didn’t work and how I can improve my habit formation/goal success in the future.
Here’s that Mileage chart I mentioned a minute ago. The green shows my very carefully planned expected monthly mileages, and the blue is my actual mileage. It’s interesting because you can actually track my mood changes according to my Fitbit miles per month (there’s a huge upswing when I leave my job in June, followed by a steady decrease as I realize six months isn’t enough time to figure your life out):
Just for fun, a comparison of all monthly miles from 2013-2015.
A close friend recently sent me a Ted talk by Derek Sivers on Keeping Goals to Yourself. The TL;DR recap is that if you tell people your goals before you work on them and receive praise in advance you are less likely to achieve them. This is because your brain is already rewarded without doing any work. It makes sense, and it’s frustrating because I am big on accountability and not sure how to do both things at once. This is a new piece of information for me so I will be processing it for a little while. Because of this, I decided not to list my goals for 2016 here right away. I may mention some progress down the road but for right now I am going to keep them to myself (and the few friends who already know some of them).
Instead of listing my goals I am going to list ways I plan to try to change things in 2016 and accomplish more:
- Focus on a smaller number of goals.
- Write my goals in a place where I can see them daily.
- Don’t try to change everything at once, start small.
- Have a stronger accountability system in place (?)
Sidenote: I am a huge fan of the Tim Ferriss podcast and Derek Sivers was also recently a guest there, I highly recommend the episode: Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions.
So I failed a bunch. But I also succeeded a bunch! Some things I accomplished in 2015:
- I ran a mile without stopping. Even better, I continued pushing on and ran a mile a day for 30 days straight. And then one day I ran 4 miles… and then 7… and then 8… and then 10!! I’ve not only gotten to a point where I can run 10 miles, but I’ve also finally gotten past the terrible part of running and found the calming and positive bits.
- I kept up with aerials (mostly). I did take a few months off after an injury, but I practiced aerials more months than not.
- I left a career that was making me miserable. It was terrifying. It’s still terrifying. The changes that came with this were much different than anticipated, but overall it’s been the best decision I could have made for myself.
- I learned (with the help of a therapist) how to start saying “No” to things I didn’t want to do/go to, no matter who invited me.
- I graduated therapy! (I need to go back to therapy)
- I did a friendventory and removed a lot of people from my life for many different reasons. I have less people in my everyday life, but it’s better this way.
- I assisted a photographer friend and photographed my first wedding.
- I traveled to Mexico alone (read about it here!).
- I almost forgot but was reminded at the last minute and kept my new New Year’s tradition of watching the last sunset of the year with my close friend Ame (photo at the top of the post).
The point of all this, as stated in the title, is that I failed at almost every single thing I set out to do in 2015… and the world didn’t end. The depression thing is a pain in the ass, but I guess what’s important is that I am always actively working on being happy and more positive (even if I don’t always succeed). Failing at goals sucks and is disappointing, but as with all failures I have some new ideas and tools for accomplishing more in 2016 and that’s what matters.
Links mentioned in this post:
- Five Small Changes to Make Life Easier
- On Realizing I’m Going to Fail… and Being Okay with It.
- My Fitbit Profile
- Ted Talk: Keep Your Goals To Yourself – Derek Sivers
- The Tim Ferriss Podcast
- Derek Sivers’ Website
- Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions
- On Traveling to Mexico (ALONE!) for 8 Days