Goals versus Challenges and Resolutions versus Intentions

Is a goal really a goal if you have no expectation of reaching it, or is it just a pipe dream? That question returns with tongue out and fingers flapping in ears to taunt me whenever I consider accepting a challenge.

 

The first time was when I agreed to participate in the 2006 NaNoWriMo insanity. I’ve launched myself towards a 50,000-words-in-November goal on three occasions now but have yet to make it to the finish line.

 

A friend and I long ago gave up on New Year’s Resolutions. We agreed that making ambitious “resolutions” that we probably couldn’t keep is just setting ourselves up for failure, so instead we settle on sharing our “intentions”. Intentions aren’t promises in the way resolutions are, so breaking them isn’t quite as devastating to the morale. The trick is to identify the category to use at any given time.

 

Then too, it’s important to identify our capabilities. I’ve said it before: there’s no sin in being good to yourself. It’s okay to ease back on the throttle when life’s multitude of priorities threatens to overwhelm. So why, when I have more on the go than I have time or energy to cope with, do I accept more challenges? I suspect it’s because I know I work better under pressure. The more I absolutely have to get done, the more efficient I become.

 

With that in mind I recently took up Jennifer Hubbard’s Summer Reading Challenge, pledging to read ten books before September 21st. I don’t expect to have trouble meeting this challenge because I  l-o-v-e  to read. And that’s the reason I’ve also accepted Tristi Pinkston’s July Writing Challenge. It’s much too easy for me to read to the point of procrastinating on my writing, so these two challenges should balance out my efforts. I’ve committed to edit (revise yet again) at least 200 pages of my current novel and also organize the haphazard thoughts for my new w.i.p. – get them out of my head and into some kind of outline on paper – during the month of July.

 

I’m not sure where challenges fit into my interpretation of goals. Are they resolutions or intentions? Either way, I’m getting psyched up to accomplish great things this summer.  Oh, but I have to stock up on Diet Coke before I do anything else. It’s pretty hard to read or write without a cold one near by. If I share my supply with you would you like to join me for either or both challenges?

Making Those Dreaded New Year’s Resolutions

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day resolutions seem to be on many minds. For more years than I care to reveal, my chief New Year’s Resolution was to begin a diet and fitness routine. If success could be measured in adhering to the semantics alone I would be able to say I was successful because every year I would “begin” anew. My failure was in not continuing. That’s one reason why I no longer make resolutions. Setting myself up for failure isn’t good for morale.

 

I’m getting smarter. Instead of resolving to do something that is very likely beyond the boundaries of my reality, I make a list of things I intend to do. Intentions involve more commitment than a wish or desire, but don’t involve a self-inflicted promise. So if I don’t manage to achieve everything I intend, the disappointment won’t be too demoralizing.

 

Intentions can start me moving towards a goal in ways that resolutions never can. So I’m beginning to compile a new list of them for the coming year. Mostly they involve writing goals. The list will nudge me to push past recent procrastinations and refocus on what’s important to me at this stage in the process towards publication. After I complete the list perhaps I’ll share it with you… or not. At the moment I don’t want to be inhibited by worries of what others might think of my intentions. I’ll leave the “after” until after and see how I feel about it then.

 

What about you? Do you make resolutions and, if so, do they work for you or do they result in frustrating failure year after year? How do you deal with it?