Goals? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

A picture I took of a beautiful Fijian sunset

I have a confession to make. I royally suck at setting and reaching goals. Whether it’s related to my blog, my freelance writing, or losing the 50 lbs. I’ve gained since high school (sometimes I think I’m the one that’s pregnant), I tend to make tentative goals and then I move on with my life and forget about them. I actually decided to be brave and take it one step further last December and even shared some of my goals for 2014. I’ve only reached a few, and that’s mainly by coincidence, not because I’ve been trying. And ironically, one of those goals was to set better goals. Oops 🙂

I Have No Time

This is my biggest excuse when it comes to asking myself why I don’t put much stock in setting and working toward goals. It’s true that I don’t have a ton of discretionary time. I get up between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. every morning to write before going to work. I spend all my breaks at work writing, and when I get home at night I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife. And there are so many other things to do along the way.

Even if I do take the time to set goals, I struggle with the follow-through. For example, I signed up for a 5k scheduled for October 18th, but I’ve had a hard time holding to my training schedule because I’m so busy I feel like I have to choose between running and all the other billion to-do list items I have running through my head at any given time.

So I always have these daydreams of a time when I’m a full-time freelancer and I have all this extra time to invest in my life goals. But if I’m honest with myself, the “no time” excuse is just a facade. I have just as many minutes in my day as everyone else. It’s simply a matter of how I manage it. And when it comes to the little ways of wasting time and killing productivity, I’m a champ.


I think the real issue I have (at least one of them, anyway), is that I am that person who gets discouraged when I’ve been exercising for a month and haven’t lost a pound for every day I looked at exercise equipment. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the result without doing the work. I just want to work really hard so I can get the result ASAP. Most of the time it just doesn’t work that way, so I give up and move on to something else.

In the end, I still get a lot of things done. I was fortunate to go from making $0 a month writing a year ago to almost $2,500 last month, and I’m still growing that. But there are several other aspects of my life where I feel like I’m just scraping by, and when I actually take the time to think about it, it drives me crazy.

Too Much Going On?

Managing a full-time job and a part-time freelancing business is stressful enough on its own. Add to that building this blog, trying to get back to a healthy lifestyle, finding a better job, keeping myself spiritually connected, participating in my local church congregation, spending meaningful time with my wife, and managing all the other little to-do items that are always floating around. It’s hard to have the desire to be fully invested in any of them sometimes.

For example, it’s so much quicker and easier to make a plate of nachos for dinner than it is to make a gourmet, veggie-rich meal. I’d honestly prefer the latter if I had both sitting in front of me, but I just don’t have the oomph to spend 30-60 minutes making it when there are so many other things to do. Every single one of those things I listed are extremely important to me, though, and it would kill me to get rid of any of them (except the healthy lifestyle, apparently. I’m doing pretty darn good at keeping that in the background).

Fear of Goals

In all reality, I think my biggest problem is my fear of failure. In some ways, it’s easier to fail without trying than it is to try and fail. At least it gives me a better excuse. I’ve become so use to just winging it due to my impatience and out-of-practice time management skillz that I’m afraid that I’ll just disappoint myself over and over and over again by trying.

I guess I’m also afraid that if I really set goals, you know those SMART goals all those weird productive people talk about, that I’d be tied down to a certain way of doing things every day, and that kills spontaneity, creativity, and more realistically, my ability to just be lazy sometimes. I makes me feel like I have to always be on my game, no matter what.

So I don’t know what I want to do right now. Maybe I should just start by reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (not an affiliate link, but 100% recommended) again. But then again, that would just be adding to the list of four other books I’m reading right now.  I have a problem, people!

What do you think I should do? Do you have problems setting goals? Are you a goal-setting champion? If so, what do you suggest? 



10 thoughts on “Goals? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

  1. I can only really comment concerning fitness and health, since I also have serious inconsistency issues with my side work doing translation, writing, and handyman work (I’m not really that handy, but people paid me to do things they had no time for, so I became a handyman).

    I tried running and I was not only terrible at it, but I also didn’t enjoy it. I might honestly tend to enjoy things that aren’t as difficult for me. So I prefer to lift weights in the morning. It is much lower intensity for me, I’m frankly much better at it, and even waking up almost as early as you do I found a buddy to meet up with me. We are accountable to each other and that means even on lazy days I have to go through the guilt-ridden process of texting him an apology for not getting up and being there to spot him. My gym buddy also found us ready-made workout splits. Now we don’t have to think at 6:00AM about which exercises for how many reps and how many sets and blah blah blah. We follow different plans that go for months at a time and it makes things automatic. We show up, the piece of paper or smartphone app is our coach telling us what we need to do that day, and then we head off to work after and feel better, eat better, and sleep better (even if I get less actual hours of sleep).

    A coworker of mine suggests the book “Run Less, Run Faster” for runners because it lays out similar schedules or routines, rest days, and pointers of proper form. It is a practical manual and not very dense, so it shouldn’t bog down your time like some other books.

    I also wanted to add that motivational posters and memes aren’t actually motivational. It took over a year of lifting 5-6 times a week before anyone noticed. Popular memes say crap like “it takes 4 weeks for you to notice, 12 weeks for your friends to notice…” That’s all garbage. So find what you like doing for exercise and you can hold out until it gets you results.

    1. Thanks for the tips! My wife used to be my running buddy, but she’s had a lot of health issues over the last few years, so it’s gone downhill from there. I guess I should stop being a hermit and make some new friends, right? 🙂 Also, I’ll check out that book. Sounds like it could be helpful.

  2. I learned the hard way that for me, I do better with a couple of goals as opposed to a gazillion of half-intention targets. Some goals are really long term like building my self-employment revenue streams but it’s still about breaking that down into manageable chunks. I really tried to do several goals at once and failed so I had to change my approached based in part on my personality and I saw much better results doing that.

    1. Now that you say that, I think another one of my issues is that there is just so much I want to accomplish in so many areas, so I get stuck on the “gazillion of half-intention targets.” I’ll have to figure out how to do that for myself.

  3. You’ve got to determine you actually really want something. Lots of people will tell you the wish they could ____, but when you suggest they go do it they come up with one of the many excuses you’ve mentioned. People who really want something don’t find the goal setting process as a chore rather as an enjoyable part off their life and they go after it.

    My brother in law wanted to go on his mission but the environment he was living in was not helping in any way. We prayed about it and invited him to live with us for a few months if he really wanted to go on his mission. When I spoke with him I asked him why he wanted to go and his first response was, ‘ to prove all those naysayers wrong! ‘ I shook my head and said that wasn’t enough and he’d never reach his goal of that was his only motivation. He needed a positive motivation that came from inside. He then got a little emotional and quietly said, ‘because I know it’s true and want to become more than I am. ‘ Once he had said that I knew we’d found real motivation.

    Then we started setting the goals and milestones. Most people want to reach a goal but suck at the planning because they set a huge goal requiring tons of work, but have no plan for the little steps needed to get there. I told my brother in law he had to always have 3 goals he was working towards, a physical goal, a spiritual goal and an other goal. That gave him the things he was working towards and it helped keep his life balanced with the temporal and spiritual as well as pushing him to pursue something he always wanted to with the other.

    Once he picked the big ones, in this case, better learning the scriptures, getting into good well rounded shape, and learning German, then I asked him, ‘ what do you need to do to get there? ‘ we then started identifying things he would need to do daily, weekly, monthly, etc,in order to make progress to those goals. My wife and I did the same thing so that he saw us living by example and not just expecting him to do it by himself, this further motivated all of us. We kept eachother accountable by asking how the goals were going.

    Every few weeks we would sit down and evaluate how things were going. If some tasks were feeling like more of a chore than a joy to do, we would question whether or not they were actually helping us get towards or goals, and if they were necessary to get there. In some cases we needed to motivate ourselves again, and in others we just needed to adjust the task because it wasn’t being effective. After the evaluation we continued working towards our goals and evaluated them again when we found ourselves getting less motivated.

    After 6 months my brother in law was worthy and ready to go on his mission. He achieved everything he’d set out to do in that time. He wasn’t fluent in german, but had learned what he needed to keep practising and learning. He had gotten in significantly better shape and his scripture knowledge was excellent.

    My wife and I have continued to do this for the past year and is had been awesome. It really helps to have someone doing it with you. They can have their own goals entirely, it’s the fact that their working alongside you that helps keep eachother going. I have also suggested this pattern to other people and they are enjoying their success in varying degrees, and some are not getting anywhere. In the end, after you have it all set up for you, you’ve got to just work. If you don’t have a good motivation, or really actually want it, it will be a lot harder to achieve.

    Work at it and you’ll get there. Make a plan so it doesn’t seem so daunting. Be awesome! Remember that flea analogy from the mission, there is no lid! You’re an eagle among chickens!

  4. What I’ve found is that if I set too many goals at once, I get overwhelmed. I had a whole list of resolutions at the start of this year, most of which I’ve abandoned because one (namely the blog) took off and sucked up so much of my time. But honestly, I’m okay with that, because of all the goals, that was priority number one. I think we need to prioritize our goals the way we prioritize our expenses.

    1. Yeah, I got to the point where I just decided to stop making resolutions because of that reason–but that makes it even worse because now I’ve given up. But you’re right. I don’t have to succeed in everything I do, just the important stuff.

  5. Thanks for this post, since I struggle with some of these goal destroying tendencies as well. I’m in a similar boat as far as juggling a full time job with freelancing on the side (which i hope to grow with time), but it is definitely tough to find time to manage everything.

    I recently heard a cool tactic from Ramit Sethi that I will try. He says before you go to sleep, write down just 3 things you would like to get done the next day and put it someplace where you can see it when you wake up. Just work on completing those three things and spend the rest of the day how you like. I’ll give it a shot!

    1. Those three things shouldn’t be breakfast, lunch and dinner, right? 🙂 I actually did something similar for a job I had a few years back–it seemed like I never had enough time to do everything. But I think I should try it with everything else now.

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