I don’t care what we’re talking about–careers, personal goals, relationships, simple tasks–I’m forever taking two steps forward and one (or two) steps back. Even the best of intentions don’t hold up under everyday pressures. I give myself a goal of writing for two to three hours a day, but then a family crisis intervenes. I’m determined to stay calm and unaffected when people cut me off in the car or leave their grocery cart in the middle of the aisle, (how trivial are these things, anyway?), but I still get steamed anyway. It really shouldn’t be so hard to improve, right? I know old habits die hard, but still! When you know you’ll be better off by doing something different, why can’t you just do it? And keep doing it?
I tell myself that all this is beyond my control because life is complicated and the one thing that people fear most is change. But I think the real issue is that there’s a comfort level with how I’ve been doing things. I’m used to fighting for writing time; it’s never been easy, no matter what stage of life I’ve been in. As far as staying calm and unaffected goes, my real worry is that if I lose my fiery instinctual responses, I will turn into a plastic, emotionless person and then not only will other people not want to spend any time with me, I won’t want to spend any time with myself.
So, maybe just having the goal is the point. To try to improve is enough. To keep the goal in mind is to at least see the carrot dangling in front of you and keep moving towards it, rather than not even realizing a carrot is worth pursuing. Even if I take two steps forward and two steps back, I can still see that carrot and I’m at least headed in the right direction whether I get closer or not. Sometimes, the goal is all we need.