Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

2017: The year I have no goals

So I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2017 and then I decided I didn’t want to have any. 

Seriously. It’s true. 

For me, setting goals is really an exercise in failure. I have a tendency to create really lofty goals in an impossible to achieve time frame and then, when I don’t reach them, it reinforces my belief that I suck at life. And I don’t really want to do that anymore. Because, in reality, I might be a hot fucking mess 99% of the time but I do not suck at life. I am real, functioning, mostly capable adult who has the ability to accomplish what she puts her mind to. 

Just not if I make that stuff actual goals. It’s weird and it makes no sense. I know that. But hang in there with me. 

I’ve also accepted that I’m textbook Type B personality (if there was such a thing. There should be. Type Bs are people, too!). I used to be a raging Type A. Then life happened and now I’m not. And rather than fight what’s my nature, I’m going to work with it. 

Which means that my goals for 2017 look more like habit changes than actual goals. 

For instance, rather than saying “I’m going to finish my book”, my goal is to write every day. Maybe it’ll be on the book. Maybe it’ll be for the blog. Maybe it’ll be editing the book. Maybe it’ll be just for fun in a notebook and no one but me ever sees it. Who knows. 

And rather than saying “I’m going to lose x amount of pounds”, I’m just going to continue to adjust to being a person who exercises regularly and eats better (for what it’s worth, when you realize you can’t eat wheat, most of the tempting good stuff goes away anyway). 

And rather than saying “I’m going to read 80 books”, I’ll keep reading whatever I feel like reading and however many books I read. Yup, that means no 2017 Goodreads reading goal for me. I do want to push myself out of my comfort zone of reading so I have a quasi-goal of reading genres I don’t necessarily gravitate towards (I’m looking at you, historical fiction).

And rather than saying “I’m going to be organized”, I plan to actually fold the laundry when it’s done in the dryer and write appointments down and blog on a regular schedule and do all the things that would make me be a person who has her shit together.

And rather than saying “I’m going to pay off x amount of debt” (and stop berating myself for being back in debt), the plan is to focus on the long term reason for paying off the debt and knock out whatever I can when I can. There’s also the whole habit of being intentional (again. I used to be and then that went to shit) with what I buy.

Goals I’ve given up: anything I can’t control, especially as it pertains to this blog. Followers, stats, comments, shares…all of it. It doesn’t matter. This is my hobby; it’s not my life. That doesn’t mean I want it to be crappy. I still want it to be engaging and fun and helpful and grammatically correct and I have plans for making it better but it’s not my job. My livelihood doesn’t depend on it. 

Focusing on the habits and systems behind achieving the goal is a much more effective way to get me to reach the actual goal. Looking at the big picture is intimidating, it doesn’t leave wiggle room, it involves too much planning, and it puts me in competition with anyone and everyone else working towards similar goals. Which then leads me to the comparison trap and that’s a very dangerous place for me.

I don’t like being in dangerous places.

And I’m sure, buried in here somewhere, is the impact of words on your habits. It’s probably another post topic. But to be vague and leading, Kathy asked me why I started going to the gym after hemming and hawing about it for so long. And I’ll tell you that it had to do with something very specific someone said to me a few months ago. It had a profound impact on me, more than she probably intended it to have, and I think it’s what led me down the road I’m on with basically everything in my life now. 

Because while I’m not goal focused, I’m improvement focused. I think that’s a good place to start. 

However. There’s one goal I do have. It’s a real goal, too. You ready for it? It’s to play the guitar again. I’ve picked it up and put it down several times in my life and you know, I really like being able to play an instrument. So I’m going to do that. Who knows. Maybe in 2018, I’ll start playing the piano again, too. 

How about you guys? Do you have goals for 2017 or are you more like me?

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23 Comments

  1. Rebecca Jo

    Improvement focused… I like that – A LOT…
    I dont usually do goals or resolutions but have really overwhelmed myself with a list in my head…
    that cant be healthy to feel overwhelmed about it all.

    Reply
  2. FF @ Femme Frugality

    I like this a lot, too, and think it’ll probably lead to better results long term, anyways. Lifestyle changes last longer than one and done goals!
    FF @ Femme Frugality recently posted…Beef. It’s Cheap for Dinner.My Profile

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  3. Linda Sheridan

    God love you! I haven’t had goals for quite some
    Time. I am happier for it! My weight is not
    Excellent but is ok and has remained the same
    For 4 years. Most other stuff has gone well, too! We all have to do what resonates
    With our soul- gratitude attitude is the key for me! . Goddess speed!
    Love, Steph’s Momma.

    Reply
  4. Stephanie

    I think all of this is one reason I really like Steph and Sara’s seasonal goals link up, and the 101 in 1001 list. It forces you to make defined action steps. ‘I’m going to be more organized’ will never ever happen, but like you said, folding the laundry is one thing. It’s measurable. It gets closer to the ultimate goal, and you have a sense of achievement when you actually do it. Who knows when ‘more organized’ is achieved? The definition could change daily. I much prefer steps you can check off a list. I wish you a much improved 2017! 🙂
    Stephanie recently posted…‘Twas The Night Before ChristmasMy Profile

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  5. Allison

    YES to not having goals. I think you can absolutely start a year without this unattainable resolutions and instead make positive changes as you go — even if they’re small ones. (The guitar thing is awesome though)

    For me, I’m not focusing on things that set me up for failure (the gym – ugh) and instead just focusing on doing more GOOD so I can feel better about the craptastic world we live in. More donating, more volunteering, more protesting, more activism.

    Cheers to 2017!

    Reply
  6. Carly

    YES! To this entire post– I think I’m definitely more ‘type b’, which you rarely hear people talk about, so I love what you said about choosing not to fight against it. I’m working on goals for 2017, but it’s more of a things-i’d-like-to-do list. So glad you shared this!

    Reply
  7. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I actually don’t think I’m goal focused even though I do the goal thing…I call them goals but in my mind, they’re to do lists or wish lists. I don’t rise and fall based on how many things get crossed off. I failed at a lot of my fall goals and plainly stated that I did so, and a lot of people were all you still did well. No, I didn’t, and I don’t actually care. LOL

    It’s all about working with your mindset. I like lists and tasks and solid things. I don’t work well with the pick a word of the year or the overarching long-term goals. Even when I’m trying to form new habits, I need small, attainable steps.

    All of this works for you, and that’s the name of the game. Not what you call it.

    Reply
  8. Heather Lockhart

    Playing the guitar is such a fun goal!

    I’m with you on wanting to set goals that are more “try to do this more” than lofty, crazy goals. My “goals” for 2017 are to do yoga more often and say thank you to people more.

    Reply
  9. alyssa

    I love this approach you’re taking, and I hope it brings you the successes you’re searching for in 2017. I did some thinking this week too and I had no year-long goals come to mind. I set a few quarterly goals based on time-sensitive things, like running a second marathon (already picked the race) and filing taxes and such. But as far as BIG THINGS TO DO in the next year, I just can’t. There’s too much I can’t plan for and like you, I’m tired of planning and failing. Habit changes are required on the road to achieving goals anyway, in most cases, so zeroing in on those rather than the end game itself is a perfectly logical—and maybe more logical—approach. I love this.

    Reply
  10. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    sometimes it’s one small thing that makes you see things differently and changes your life forever (and for the better!). For those things (or person, in your case), I am forever grateful.

    I’m all for just changing something but not categorizing them as “goals”…mainly because i feel pressured to knock them off fast and then get too overwhelmed.
    kathy @ more coffee, less talky recently posted…Weekending & Shizz [12-19]My Profile

    Reply
  11. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I love this outlook on 2017! It really does seem like the whole New Years Resolution thing does set us up for failure because you want to see that you’ll do X over the upcoming year, and it’s really depressing when we don’t meet our goals. But having small goals over the year will ultimately help us to reach the big goals over time!

    Reply
  12. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Man, we are so alike when it comes to goals. I set pie-in-the-sky goals that I am so confident will be easy peasy to achieve because I’m a smart, capable, can-do kind of person. Then boom! Nada, zippo, zero advancement and it becomes this huge albatross hanging over me, laughing at me and reaffirming that little tiny voice saying I’m terrible and blah, blah, blah. She’s a real bitch. I haven’t set goals for 2017 and I haven’t decided to not set goals either. I’m still in the what do I NEED to happen because there are some changes to my life that need to be made too. I love the idea of habit changes because they can actually have the biggest impact in the long run. I am also really, really, REALLY sorry you can no longer eat wheat . I love my bread and pasta, which is why I am fat. Plus, I hate to exercise. 😀

    I’m starting my annual blogging break for the holidays, so I want to wish you and your family and very Merry Christmas!! I’m so glad we connected last year!
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…Have a Holly, Jolly ChristmasMy Profile

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  13. Brittany Pines

    Love the idea of habits v. goals. It’s very similar for me. For the past few years I have been choosing a “word of the year.” It’s more about choosing an attitude and direction rather than checking things off a list.

    Reply
  14. Kristin

    Cheers to this. I’m a type B also. I would like to think I’m type A, but I’m not. I’m really particular about a few things but definitely not in the way a classic type A is. I’m more focused on habits and routines than I am goals. Goals, I’ve found, do lead to disappointment, so there will be no giant overarching theme for 2017.
    Changing habits is the more effective route if you’re actually looking to change something (and not just, you know, aspire or whatever January seems to be for these days).

    Reply
  15. Jess

    I like this idea. I’m somewhat type A (maybe a mix) but setting specific goals doesn’t work that well for me. I prefer to do the same thing and have some ideas of what I want to improve on. I agree that that way, by the end, you feel much more satisfied than if you did not complete a loft goal.

    Reply
    1. Jess

      Lofty…although feel free to have loft goals as well.
      Jess recently posted…Currently… Christmas EditionMy Profile

      Reply
  16. Nadine

    I am so with you on not setting actually goals but just focusing on certain aspects of life. My main thing for 2017 is to get back in shape after a year of giving my body to making a baby. I feel like a total disaster right now and so if I focus back on eating healthy and working out when I’m cleared…I will be good to go. I’m not going to put a number or time frame on myself so I don’t set myself up for berating and failure. (From myself.) I love that you’re going to pick up guitar!!! I’ve always wanted to learn it but never even tried. And just telling yourself your going to read, write, pay what you can when you can…I mean that’s all really any of us can do anyways because life happens and sometimes you can’t finish something when you meant to and that’s totally ok. sounds like you’re setting yourself up for success in 2017 and I’m wishing you all the best! You’re going to rock it!

    Reply
  17. Micah @ Unabashedly Me

    I’ve been going back and forth about my goals for 2017, and I’m thinking you might be on to something. Who am I kidding? I’ll still set goals because they motivate me, but I think everyone should do what works for them and makes them happy.

    Reply
  18. Kimmi

    I was actually thinking about this the other day. 2016 basically kicked my teeth in and left me for dead on the sidewalk and I just don’t have the energy to put into goals that set me up for failure so I can feel even worse next year. I feel still a little broken and I’m not sure how I’m gonna put my pieces back together and I just don’t see the point in setting goals that are going to make me feel worse. So I think I’m going to be like you and just stick to the habits that create a better life instead of setting myself up for failure.

    Reply
  19. Jenniemarie

    THIS is what I have been basically doing for the last couple of months and I’ve accomplished so much more than when I set goals! I’m looking forward to following your progress

    Reply
  20. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    I do something similar. I have a theme to the year and also my five values, and everything is kind of based around that. Gretchen Rubin talks about personality types when it comes to habits and I did the test and found out I’m a rebel, so as soon as I have these boundaries, I tend to fail. I don’t like feeling restricted.

    Reply
  21. D

    I have one goal, and that is not to set any goals. Keep thinking about that old saw, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” That’s how things have been going for the past couple of years.

    Sometimes I’m laughing, too. Other times I feel that by setting myself up for failure. Or at least tossing virtual banana peels just ahead of where I plan to walk that year.

    I do like your idea of being “improvement-focused.” Stealing it!
    D recently posted…See you at a pair of Phoenix meet-ups.My Profile

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  22. texerinsydney

    I needed to read this. Thank you.
    I’m way behind in blog reading. As I’m attempting to catch up, I see a lot of goals…which is great for folks…yet, that comparison demon creeps in and I start thinking of myself as a big loser that I don’t have these lofty goals when I feel like I should. But, it’s not that I don’t have things that I’m attempting, that I’m striving for, that I’m in search of to make my life better…as you say, to improve it…but I don’t have them in clear cut goals, so I was starting to feel like a failure before starting.
    So, again, thank you. I needed to read this. And, although I’ve yet to make it back in the gym, I am trying to be active again. I walked 4 times this week and went on a hike. That’s pretty good for a gal who has been as inactive as myself. Congrats on the gym time. I need to get there.
    texerinsydney recently posted…Reading Habits vol.2My Profile

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