If you have been following “Cats Out of the Box,” you know that I am an avid hiker. Last year I challenged myself to hike 50 miles along trails before the end of Labor Day weekend and I reached my goal. I have a new hiking challenge for this year…. the hard goal is 75 miles before the end of Labor day weekend. But I also have a soft goal of hiking 100 miles before November 1st. I don’t have a reward for these goals. For me, the reward is being out on the trail, companionship with others who enjoy the great outdoors as much as I do and of course, the incredible views along the trail.
I also set goals for myself as an artist every year. The following are my goals for 2016:
- Creative Work Goal 205 (This number is based on a point system that I have developed for myself and not on an actual number of pieces.)
- Enter a juried show
- Participate in a group show or exhibition.
- Teach creativity classes
- Develop a website
- Write 2 posts a month on my blog “Cats Out of the Box.”
I do not have a reward for my art goals either. To me, the reward is accomplishing what I have set out to do. I set a challenge and then try to beat it.
This got me thinking about setting goals.
I have the type of personality that I enjoy having goals to work towards. If I do not reach all of my hiking or art goals that is okay. What is important to me is the process and having something to strive towards. There are occasions where (and I am going to use a baseball metaphor that will make my dad proud) life throws a curve ball. And the goals that you had set are no longer viable or obtainable. It happens. Guess what? It is okay. You reorganize, re-evaluate and determine new goals.
Not everyone who sets goals is that flexible. You know the type. They have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, 5-year, 10-year, etc. plans. They are so busy planning out their lives that you wonder if they even enjoying living. And when something doesn’t go as planned….. well, lets just say that you don’t want to be around them. There is having drive to accomplish things and there is being driven by your goals.
“A truly happy person enjoys the scenery along a detour.” -unknown
A friend of mine said that he chooses a general direction in life or work and then works hard towards that direction. He has drive but has learned not to be obsessive or overly specific. This helps keep him on course despite any potential failures along the way.
In my creativity classes, we call what my friend does setting an intention. Intentions are the gentler, broader version of goal setting. An intention I set for myself is to be healthier. Towards this intention I focus on the foods that I eat and where they come from. I exercise on a regular basis through yoga, walking and hiking. I try to make sure I am getting enough rest at night and that my day job does not cause an excessive amount of stress. You get the idea. I am trying to take care of myself by making healthy choices that are all inspired by my intention.
The perspective I take towards my goals and intentions is this …. I set them. I work towards accomplishing them. I enjoy working towards accomplishing them. They enhance my life. They do not control my life. If I do not accomplish everything on my list, it is okay. It gives me something to strive towards next year. After all, for me, it’s not about reaching the end of the path…. it’s enjoying the scenery along the way.