How to Stay Balanced Pursuing Annual Goals
Time feels like it's flying by, but you can work toward goals without despair.
"It's not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?"
—Henry David Thoreau
As months go by, it's hard not to feel like you're behind. Months slip away, calendar years come to an end. If you have goals you're working toward, time passing tends to beg the same question.
What have you accomplished so far?
You don’t have to answer right away, it’s okay if it takes some thought to figure out.
It’s good to be aware of where we are in the year. Otherwise, why would we have calendars? Perhaps to feed the calendar industry and paper-company CEOs, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
There are two ways you can look at time passing. You can either be glad to have half of the year under your belt or you can have a crisis over how much you still want to do before the year ends.
Be aware of time passing, but don’t despair over it receding.
"The key is in not spending time, but in investing it."
—Stephen R. Covey
It's good to be aware of time passing; it gives you perspective and gives you the chance to reflect on what you've done. However, you also don't want to be obsessed about days passing if you aren't quite reaching your personal benchmarks. Beyond that, you don't want to end up stressed about weeks going by.
One of my mortal enemies is meaningless small talk. As an introvert, surviving small talk can be tough. One of the first topics that come up is usually the weather and then it’s time passing by rapidly. “Can you believe little Bobby is already five?” So much small talk boils down to talking about weather, seasons, or time passing in some capacity.
Whether it’s with friends or colleagues, it’s easy to commiserate over the passage of time. The arguably worst time to discussing passing time is when it’s your birthday and everything is focused on getting another year older.
While it’s certainly easy to fall into despair at how quickly time slips away, don’t let those negative feelings win.
Use time passing as a motivator.
"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.
Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular."
If you work well under pressure or if you need a deadline to kick yourself into action, let time be the foot that kicks you. What are you going to do? What’s your goal for the rest of the year? Regardless of how much of the year is gone, you can always pivot, adjust your goals, and work toward reasonable milestones.
Motivation is something we talk about and think about quite a lot, whether we’re in excess or absence of it. While it usually feels mysterious or elusive, there are some interesting psychological facts about motivation that can make it a little bit easier to harness.
Very Well Mind explains the psychological factors that guide behavior and how there are actually three major components in motivation.
Activation, persistence, and intensity are all vital to chasing goals.
Activation is “the decision to initiate a behavior,” like starting a diet or a new project.
Persistence is the “continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles may exist.” For example, if you’re a writer on Medium, finding ways to stay motivated to keep blogging.
Intensity is described as the “concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing a goal.”
The idea of intensity being a part of motivation rather than a battle fought separately was rather interesting to me. However, when you look at motivation from a psychologist’s point of view, these three facets are all part of becoming and staying motivated.
Push yourself forward, but celebrate what you’ve done so far.
What did you accomplish last month? Or in the last three months? If you’re feeling demoralized, make a list. Write down all the things that you’ve done so far this year that you’re proud of.
This list of accomplishments can really be anything; it’s about things that have made you feel good. That could be anything from getting a promotion at work to reading a few books from the library. Put your journey in perspective and pat yourself on the back for what you’ve done so far this year.
To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not exactly where I’d like to be. However, I'm going to keep looking at my goals, adjusting my milestones when necessary, and working toward them. I'm also working on my habits, like ensuring I'm sleeping enough and eating a nutritionally balanced diet, to make sure I'm in the best shape I can be to tackle those goals.
"Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can't afford to lose."