Unpractical, angsty thoughts about fear and goal setting

fear and goal setting

You’ve probably seen some great posts about goal setting. You’ve probably heard that your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound).

I don’t have anything practical to offer that hasn’t already been said. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one working through some the internal junk just to get to the starting line. So here are some honest thoughts that may not be too inspiring, unless you’re the person who needs to read them.

Usually, January 1st is an exciting day for me. I like to spend hours poring over worksheets, planning and dreaming.

This year, it feels like a cliff, and I’m inching closer to the edge. It feels like a deadline instead of a fresh start.

My thoughts around the new year revolved around not losing what I’ve gained in 2013 and not missing out on anything in 2014. In a word, fear.

Fear rings loudly, and sounds like: You can’t do that. Who will help you? Someone else is already doing that. You need the money. Don’t do it for the money. You’ll mess it up. It will be a waste of time. What will people think?

These thoughts were problematic, and symptomatic of some bigger problems. One is a lack of gratitude. The other is that ugly tendency to rely on myself –  my strengths, my resources, my accomplishments – which makes my weaknesses, my lack and my failures that much more glaring.

When I found myself afraid of losing what I have, I had to take a step back and look at 2013. I’m in a position now that I never anticipated this time last year. The relationships, work opportunities and fun I’ve had this year were only minimally influenced by my planning and work.

Whatever I’ve achieved this year, I didn’t do it by taking all the right steps or by some function of my own abilities. I started the year with a general direction in mind, prayer, and took one step at a time. I walked through doors when they opened, I tried and failed and changed direction constantly.

I can’t look back on this year and take much credit. If it were all about me, I’d have reason to fear. Instead, I’m choosing gratitude for the health, friendships and opportunities that God gave me: some earned, some in spite of me, some just because He loves me.

If I’m not grateful now, when? If I’m always on to the next thing, never pausing to give thanks and acknowledge my work, when will it ever be enough? It won’t.

The definition of success will keep moving out in front of me, as I’m trapped in an endless cycle of striving. I realized that I am succeeding, not in everything but in some things. I am in the process of succeeding, though I don’t know that success the noun is something anyone really grasps.

If we’re always growing and changing, success will always look different. Climbing new heights and setting bigger goals signifies a diligent and hard working life, but we can’t let the pursuit of success define us.

We’ve achieved some things and we’ll achieve more in the future, but the joy and learning are in the process.

Are you afraid to set goals for 2014? 

Photo Credit: PhotKing ♛ via Compfight cc

10 thoughts on “Unpractical, angsty thoughts about fear and goal setting

  1. :) I try to avoid new years resolutions for that reason! I think they can easily turn into striving, selfishness, shame, and fear. Last year I started praying about a word or words to live by for the new year. That greatly impacted the way I thought about the new year. dreams are great and goals are important but you need to allow so much room for imperfections and God’s plan!

    1. Yes they can. I am a big fan of goal setting. I think it’s a wise practice, but has to be balanced with room for unforeseen challenges and opportunities, as well as God’s direction. I chose a one word this year (which I’ll blog about soon) and it’s helping inform my goal setting.

  2. I have been feeling the same way — there are plenty of things I’d like to accomplish, but how do I narrow them down and decide what’s really important? And like you say — how much of all this worry and work really pans out to anything anyway? Am I just trying to take God’s place in shaping my life?

  3. Thank you so much for posting this, Jacey! The rapid approach of 2014 has been a major source of stress in my life the past few weeks–so much pressure to be amazing! build something wonderful! do more, and do it better! Like Elizabeth, I prefer to seek the Lord for a word or two to live by for the new year. For 2014, my word is freedom (amen).

  4. Pingback: January goals

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