On SMART Goals and Procrastination

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had everything you wanted? The perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect spouse, kids, dog. The book deal. The movie deal that sprouts from the book deal. The travel that comes with being a famous author. The successful coffeeshop in a tourist trap town. I think about that a lot.

And yet, I don’t avidly work toward it.

I wonder why that is. I wonder why my blog goes ignored and my novels haven’t been touched in months. Why I procrastinate editing a friend’s novel and making a website offering editing services for money. I seem to only be able to do things if someone is counting on me to do it. And even then I lose interest so incredibly quickly. What starts out as fun inevitably gets irritating and grating and humdrum.

I finished a novel because I was getting graded on it. I edit for a website because they count on me to do it. I try to do everything and I end up doing nothing.

I’ve never been able to bite off as much as I could chew, and no more. I do things, I hate myself, I promptly forget and do more things. I did too much in college. So of course I’m doing more now. Not only can I not say no, I compulsively offer to do things.

That’s not a bad thing. When one day I’m speaking as someone famous from something or other, I want to say that I’ve done it all. Or, at least, all the things I want to have done. And right now, I’ve got a finger in every writing pot.

I write and edit greeting cards for a living, among various other writing that gets thrown at me. I’m writing a fantasy serial story with three other people, and editing every chapter that goes up. (Creative collaboration, man. Nothing like it.) I have this blog, that only gets kept up sometimes. I write for, edit for, and recently manage communications for a website. I’m in the middle of at least two active short novels, one full-length novel that I plan to dedicate most of my time to, and another that’s in the third draft edit stage. I dabble in poetry and personal essays. I’m editing a novel for a friend, with another waiting for when I’m done. I edit resumés and cover letters whenever anyone asks me to.

I guess that counts as working toward something, right? But I feel stagnant in all of them. I feel stagnant in general, because for once in my life I’m not striving for something attainable.

A friend told me I needed SMART goals. Neither of us could remember what the R stood for. Realistic. The R stands for realistic. That thing I’ve never been good at. Ironic, isn’t it? But I can do realistic. I can. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely. So here’s my SMART goal. Just the one. No others; the rest of my life can sort itself out around it. (I need to work out. I always need to work out.) One goal:

Write 10 pages of my novel by this time next week. I can do that.

I will also, hopefully (here I go making more goals), exercise at least once. Write a blog post. Write an article. Edit whatever articles come my way. And watch a movie. I don’t spend enough time watching movies.

I don’t know how to relax. I told my best friend the other day that I felt weird and empty, like I should be doing something. He said that was relaxation. Somehow I don’t think it’s healthy that my mind works like that. I always need to be doing something, working toward something.

So here’s to my SMART goal. Here’s to learning how to relax. Here’s to being okay with where I am and knowing that deep-set panic won’t get me anywhere but a shrink’s office.

Here’s to the same thing I blog about always: living life, and living it well.

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