I’m not really a goal-setting kind of person. While I certainly have short term projects I want to accomplish — say six months to a year at most — I keep reading how I “should” have longer term goals. My approach instead has been to become more comfortable with just setting a general direction, watching for opportunities, and enjoying where life takes me.
And I have been enjoying it. 🙂
Every so often, though, I bow to so-called conventional wisdom when it comes to goal setting, usually because it’s positioned as some critical aspect of a self-improvement book I’m in the process of reading.
Apparently that’s where I found myself five years ago. The other day as I was revamping my usage of Evernote I stumbled into — you guessed it — a note written in 2012 outlining goals for five years hence. Aka today, in 2017.
I hadn’t looked at it in five years. It was an interesting, and surprising find.
The big wow
There were several sections, apparently organized in accordance with whatever book I was reading at the time. One section, on “Health and Fitness”, held the biggest surprise. Check out these very specific goals written in 2012 for 2017:
- BP in control consistently under 130/80
I say that because 2012 is a full two years before I made the decision that lead to my actual weight loss. My start weight was 256 lbs, and I’ve been under 200lbs for over two years now. And while I’m still on BP meds, it’s been better than it’s been for a long time as well, easily meeting the goal.
There was no conscious correlation between these goals from 2012 and my decisions in 2014.
Do they relate? Maybe. Maybe not.
There were other categories of goals, the a handful of which I met by actually meeting some specific goal, but more commonly I’d setting a goal that was more a description of what I saw myself doing in the future.
For example one goal was to keep an active mind & keep on learning. While it’s not a specific accomplishment, as goals area supposed to be, it was something to be attained or maintained, and indeed, it’s been met.
Along those same lines, goals to meditate regularly, exercise regularly, maintain my relationship with my wife, and more, were all met in the sense that I feel like they’re things that are naturally part of my life. They’re things I do. Goal meet.
There were a couple areas in this set of goals that were left — I’ll call it “unknown”, or undeveloped. One example: “What is the mark you want to leave to the world (legacy)?”
I have no clue.
Sometimes I skirt around technology when thinking about this, sometimes other aspects of my life, but — and this is again consistent with not having a true long term goal — I struggle to pin myself down to one single Big Thing.
The thing is that I’m not sure I can really pin something on questions like this, and I’m not sure I need to. I fall back on simply setting a good and interesting direction, and enjoying what life throws at me, and taking advantage of the opportunities along the way to maybe make the world a slightly better place.
So, did my goals in 2012 drive the next five years of my life?
Not in any specific or tangible way. I wrote them down, squirreled them away, and didn’t look at them again until last week. I took no specific actions referring to these goals along the way. Not once.
One goal — a goal that in 2012 I’m sure I figured was pretty far-fetched — was met and then some. Other goals were met or maintained. Some weren’t.
I keep hearing that there’s power in writing things down. Maybe that’s all this exercise in 2012 was really all about. Perhaps the act of thinking through the issues, writing down even a few ideas, “stacked the deck”, so to speak, in a way that caused me to subconsciously make decisions and availe myself of opportunities as they presented themselves that aligned with these thoughts.
Accidentally, even. Or maybe “accidentally on purpose”.
In any case, it’s an interesting exercise to create (and I can honestly now recommend you consider doing so), but an even more interesting exercise to revisit five years later.
Now I just have to find the time to look ahead to 2022. 🙂