Working against myself

Jan 9, 2009 by

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. Between the holidays, traveling, getting sick and additional personal/family stress, I haven’t been able to clear my mind enough to compose something.

On top of that, I’ve been doing my usual: procrastinating. I’m an inveterate procrastinator and have been ever since I was a child. It is a very, very bad habit that I’ve attempted to break more than once, but it keeps coming back. After much thought, I’ve realized that most of it is connected to tasks that scare or intimidate me. I’m sure I’m not unusual in this; most people avoid what they don’t like or don’t want to do. In particular, my fear of failure leads me to put off most anything at which I might not excel. There, I said it. I’m egotistical enough to avoid anything I can’t do well. 

Lately, that includes setting any real goals for myself for 2009. Last year at this time I was fired up about setting goals and spending time working toward them. In reviewing them at the end of 2008, I realized that I hadn’t accomplished any of them. Not one. Thus, I figured I was a failure and should avoid doing the thing connected to that failure (i.e., goal setting). The thought was/is pretty devastating.

Thankfully, I’m a lot harder on myself than anyone else would be and I have wonderfully supportive friends and family who are starting to pick me up – whether they know it or not. Rosetta Thurman, one of my good friends and a blogger that I read religiously, put up this fabulous post about becoming a better nonprofit leader in 2009 which I have printed off and plan to use as a focal point for renewed goal setting. Michele Martin, another one of my favorite people, wrote a couple of posts on mental clutter and clearing it out, which really helped give me some ideas on how to get over this slump and let me know I was not alone. And my mom and my partner have both spent lots of time listening to me complain, all the while not complaining themselves.

Here’s what I’ve got to do: focus on the small things first and prevent myself from getting overwhelmed by the concept of goal setting for the entire year. It might work for some people, but looking a whole year ahead seems to paralyze me – and besides, things change so quickly that by the end of year, my goals are no longer valid. Here are my next steps (um…goals) to help me focus on goal-setting:

  1. Schedule time for myself to focus on ME at least once (and hopefully twice) a week for the next couple of months. If things aren’t in my calendar they don’t exist, so I need to schedule time for myself specifically. During these times, I will not read my email, get sucked into Twitter or constantly update Facebook. I will focus on cleaning my desk first, then work on establishing my goals, updating my resume, fleshing out my online portfolio and writing.
  2. Set 3 to 5 small, concrete and realistic goals for the next three months and put them up where I can see them.
  3. Determine the most important next step or steps for me to continue becoming a better nonprofit leader and then take them.
  4. Take regular deep breaths and try not to be so hard on myself. I am not perfect and I never will be, so why stress out about it?

 If you’re working on some of the same things, let me know. I’d love a goal buddy to keep me on task and encourage me too.

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  • Hey Elisa–you are most definitely NOT alone! And I think you’re right that one big goal-setting session per year is probably not going to make things happen unless we also schedule for ourselves the time and support to actually accomplish those goals. That’s been one of the places where I’ve fallen down.

    I’m wondering if there wouldn’t be some value in doing periodic online coaching sessions. I have Go-to-Meeting and we could potentially set monthly group get-togethers to work on moving toward our goals. What do you think?

  • Thanks Michele – As you know, sometimes being a naturally goal-driven and/or ambitious person drives you to put the cart in front of the horse. In this case, making goals without figuring how exactly to achieve them…
    I would LOVE some sort of regular get-together to check in on goals with others. Accountability does wonders! Let’s chat about it offline.

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