“Good Enough?”, Goals, and Getting There
Life is a constant struggle between being yourself and wanting to be your ideal “you”. We love to prove to ourselves that we can be smarter, beautiful, successful, accomplished, talented, in amazing shape, likable, and anything else that we desire. We want to have quality relationships, we want to have financial stability and flexibility, we want to rise through the ranks in our professions. We want it all, but we are also plagued by mediocrity. And as much as you can resent yourself for not being a superhero, it’s just not productive. So we must balance reality and expectations. Not a simple task.
I used to be that driven kid. In middle school I was on student council, art club, the school newspaper, choir, National Junior Honor Society, and I was also an aspiring writer, guitar player, and artist. All of that was in addition to a schedule stuffed with advanced classes, and a new stack of books I read for fun each week. And all of that was to impress colleges who didn’t even know I existed.
Then in high school I changed. I started out on the same track: choir, National Honor Society, drama club, speech club, renaissance club, and more advanced classes. But then I traded hobbies for friends, got a job at 16, and after a terrible semester in junior year I snapped. I couldn’t do it all, I wasn’t perfect like I wanted to be, and it was exhausting trying to look pretty every day after a nights of furiously trying to finish homework on break at work. Most of the classes I took that year were for college credit, and trying to balance being a student, an employee, and a soon-to-be girlfriend in my first relationship wasn’t working. So I snapped. I admitted to being depressed and began medication, I quit my job, and school took a backseat to happiness. My new philosophy was “Fuck it!” and I blocked out everything that challenged me.
Now, after a year (almost a year and a half!) of college, my philosophy has changed again. I focus on what makes me happy, but I’ve also started to push myself from time to time to be that ideal version of myself. The ideal “me” runs everyday, completes all of her assignments days before they are due, volunteers, is an active part of the university feminist group, eats healthy, hangs out with her friends a lot, writes her aspiring novel, draws and reads in her spare time, and maintains a wonderful relationship with her boyfriend and friends back home. But I’m not this girl. I run sporadically, complete my assignments, is trying to volunteer a bit, hardly attends the feminist meetings anymore, “tries” to eat healthy, hangs out with her friends at school and back home, reads sometimes but not enough, hardly draws or writes, and maintains the healthy relationship with my boyfriend. I’m not doing terribly, but I’m not super close to the ideal “me”. And sometimes that bothers me, and sometimes it doesn’t.
We all want to be in control of our lives, to control our destiny and be the best, but life isn’t a to-do list you can make. Sometimes things get in the way, sometimes our ambition is second-priority to our emotions. So how do we not get stuck in our laziness for fear of stress (but also not get burnt out on trying too hard)? The balance. Trying to balance your life is always the goal that comes back to haunt you, because nine times out of ten your conflicts derive from a lack of balance (i.e. not spending enough time with loved ones because of work, getting behind at school because of your social life, one partner in a relationship picking up too much slack because the other partner is not doing their share, etc.). But balancing our lives is much easier said than done. So how do you do it?
I’m no expert, but so far this semester I’ve had success with balancing ideal “me” expectations, and realistic probability of achieving those tasks. Here’s what I did:
- Stop beating yourself up. You’re never going to accomplish anything if you are too busy telling yourself that you suck. You can’t do everything, but you can do more than nothing. Believe that you can do this, and remember all of the times you accomplished something and was proud of yourself. Start of by treating yourself to something nice that you normally don’t do, maybe buy yourself that dress you’ve been eyeing for weeks, or that new album from your favorite band. Show yourself you can accomplish something if you want it.
- Now make a realistic list of stuff you want to do. Keep it small, maybe the top five things you want to accomplish in the next month/four months. Don’t go thinking about the whole year, because you’ll forget about your goals or put it off if you have too much time. Now set some sort of timeline for your goals. Try to do one thing at a time, so you aren’t taking on too much.
- Do the first thing. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes longer than you thought or you feel like an amateur while doing it. As long as you are CONSISTENTLY trying, you are being successful! Promise yourself you’ll do something fun after you accomplish it!
- Don’t feel like a terrible person if you give up for a while. Sometimes we aren’t ready to do something because you have four exams that week, or you are going through a fight with your friend. Life happens, it’s okay, but vow to try again as soon as things calm down.
- Recognize when you do something good. After you complete a task, even if it is as simple as taking out the trash, remember you have one less thing to do! If you forgot something to do that day, think of all the things you remembered to do. It’s important to be positive throughout the process of productiveness. Just try your best, and remember you are only human! Also, try not to compare yourself to other people, because everyone has their own life and their own unique set of problems.
- Always make time for happiness and relaxation. You are not a machine, and it is vital to release stress in order to keep on track. Just remember to put a time limit on your Netflixing or naps. For every episode write another paragraph of your paper due on Friday, or plan to be productive after dinner, then do it! Keep your promises to yourself, because the more you break them, the harder it will be to convince yourself to get to work. Remember that these goals are in your best interest and why you want to achieve them.
I hope that helps, to whoever is interested in finding their balance between their ideal self and where they are at now. Before you go into making these goals, though, I think it is important to appreciate who you are now, and how far you’ve come. We all want to be better, but in order to do that we must find our strengths and count our blessings. (You could always be worse off!) Anyway, feel free to let me know how you’re doing with your goals or if you have a suggestion for others about what helps you get stuff done! 🙂 Good job to all who are trying, and good luck to all who want to try sometime soon!