I met my goal, and I am not ok with it. 

I love December because I can look back on my goals and the way I spent my year. Then I can celebrate the victories and plan for changes to what I wasn’t celebrating so much. In a future post I will share my celebrations. This post is about what I want to change because I met crushed my goals, and I am not ok with it. 

For the last five years I have set reading goals through Goodreads. Every year I bump up the number of books a little more. Some years I do a reading challenge to try to expand my reading list. I scour lists of Best Reads to add to my To Be Read list and try to keep up with what everyone else had read and loved. Then at the end of the year, Goodreads summarizes the number of books and pages I have completed this year. 

2018 reading goals
Last year I started 188 books, but finished 163 books. I keep a separate list of books I abandoned so I don’t accidentally try them again. More on that in this post.

There are a couple reasons why I am not excited about crushing this goal. While reading may not be your thing, I wonder if some of these reasons will resonate with how you are feeling about your goals. Don’t just consider the goals you hit – maybe you sabotaged your goals because you saw some of this sooner than I did. Either way, I want to talk about a different way to think about goal-setting, or the lack thereof. Let’s dig into it. 

1 – Now I have to raise the goal

We are all familiar with the idea of fear of failure. Most likely we are experienced at fear of failure. That cold clammy feeling when we think about everyone we are letting down when we cannot come through on the expectation or promise. But what about its wicked step-sister, Fear of Success. 

The idea behind fear of success is that when we reach a goal we have to immediately keep improving. I was a varsity athlete in college. At the end of my freshman year I was handed a list of goals I was to reach before returning to campus in the fall. 

  • A certain time for the mile run.
  • A number to hit for body weight and a more strict number for body fat.
  • Several targets for lifts in the weight room (bench press, squat, etc.).  

I worked my ass off that summer. Before going to my maintenance crew job, I lifted every day at 5:00 am. I got off at 3:30 pm and played basketball or ran or both until 8:00 pm more days than not. Weekends were filled with various tournaments or working a second job in a sporting goods store. I carefully planned meals and ditched my favorite Dairy Queen M&M Blizzards. Alcohol was not even an option.

I returned to campus, crushed all of my goals. OK, not the mile time – I squeaked by on that bad boy. But I reached it. To this day I still remember how proud of myself I was that fall. 

I met with my coach at the end of the pre-season expecting celebrations. Instead I hear: Good, now we know what you are capable of so we can set some real goals. 

That summer schedule took everything I had. And it was deemed not “real goals.” Crushing my goals crushed me. I had an intense schedule that I could barely sustain and now I was asked to significantly add to it.

Now, upping my reading game is not as soul crushing as sitting in that office hearing about my “good start,” but as I was looking ahead to my 2020 reading goals I started getting that familiar voice in my head.

  • What will I give up to make this happen?
  • How will I fit it all in?
  • What can I drop off the life schedule to get this done?

Its READING, guys! I refuse to let one of my favorite things in the world become something that squeezes out life. I will not be bumping up 2020 expectations just because I hit my 2019 goal. 

But there is another reason I am not increasing my goal. 

2019 reading goals
This year I started 168 books, but finished 143 books.

2 – What does this goal cost me?

If we return to our Young Susan basketball player analogy, it becomes clear what I exchanged. When I was a sophomore my boyfriend was so mad that I missed him playing baseball in semi-state playoffs that he cheated on me with one of my biggest rivals from our school’s biggest opponent, then dumped me while I was playing in a national tournament. Then my senior year I skipped all graduation parties and many friends’ open houses to travel to tournaments out of state. 

It may not seem like a big deal now, but to a teenage girl it was devastating. 

The parallel for me now is what am I not doing so that I can read for the sake of raising my goal. And this one was the clencher for me. When I read I am in the zone. Checked. Out. I am in Three Pines. Or playing Quidditch. I am right there with the gone girl on the train in the window

What I am not doing is:

  • Connecting with my people
  • Crafting something of my own
  • Writing words that might resonate with you
  • Engaging with nature to restore my own soul

I have decided I am not ok with this trade. While it may seem productive – read more, nature will always be there! It is not sustainably productive. I cannot maintain this every increasing number while abandoning other interests and passions. 

For a couple years I have needed to check out and numb to difficulties to get through a rough patch, but I feel myself coming out of that and into a new season. Reading is not going to go away AT ALL. Now reading will find its right sized place for this new phase of life for me. It is going to get to become a hobby that is sustainably productive instead of a competitive obsession that I have to hard charge forward with, consequences of what I am leaving behind be damned!

Do you have a goal that just feels tiring to keep expanding on? What would it feel like to maintain, reduce, or even abandoned it? What if you deemed yourself good enough – just as you are today?