As this year comes to a close there are always some sort of societal pressures to look at our past and also look ahead to look at our future.
Honestly – I hate this process of ‘self discovery’ and goal setting.
We’ve Been Taught to Set Goals
Sure, my MBA taught me I should set goals, review them periodically, and try to figure out how to keep them on track; this is especially important as a self employed, new entrepreneur. After all, goals make us successful – right? I should have a way to measure my success…or failure. Every business person and entrepreneur I look up to goes through this process. But I really dislike this process. Instead of looking back at last year at my 2010 goal post; let’s just say that I probably didn’t make my original blogging and business goals, let alone my travel goals. Maybe I hate going through that process because everyone goes through that year-end ‘must set new goals’ process…it’s the sensible thing to do.
That’s the problem – I hate being sensible and I really hate doing something because everyone else is doing it. In fact the quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me that ‘everyone’ is doing the opposite thing…then you’ve got me where you want me.
The Pressure of Goals
It’s that time of year of annual reviews and goal setting. There was a discussion thread recently on a Facebook group I belong to that encouraged people to share their blogging goals. I read through it and saw everyone listing number of subscribers, followers, and ‘likers’ that they wanted to reach. I just thought to myself…I’ve been doing this for 4 years…I simply want to survive next year and still be here. That’s it…that’s my goal. Screw numbers…I want to have fun…and I hope people follow along…but I’m tired of putting pressure on myself. I did that for 14 years in corporate jobs and I’m done with pressure and guilt and comparison ruling my life.
Somehow this year I grew my blog, created new websites, products, and events; but what I learned is that old habits die really hard. Overwork caused by the drive to succeed (or simply not fail) have seeped back into my life. I realize my type A personality never really left; it was just dormant. The problem is – no matter if it’s a corporate job or blogging – when I start to push myself to succeed – I tend to push myself right over the edge to the point of unhappiness. I can feel that happening again…I see the signs. And the sign reads B-U-S-Y.
I feel like I’m busier than ever; not making time for friends and other things that are important to me but have fallen to the background. I don’t want to be that ‘busy person’…always talking about how much they have to do and how everything is more important that the next. I’m tired of apologizing for not getting back to people in a timely manner. And I tend to start most sentences with the words “I’ve been so busy…” I find it annoying when other people talk about how busy they are so of course it makes no sense for me to do it either. I don’t know if ‘being busy’ is an American cultural thing or if it’s everywhere. I guess that’s something to research as I travel this year.
Instead of the ‘busy syndrome’ I want to be the vision of calm, cool, and collected. I have a couple of friends who I really look up to who seem to accomplish so many diverse things in their life, yet never once do they seem flustered or talk about how busy they are. I’ve always looked up to these people, I want to know what their secret is…but maybe it’s not a secret, maybe it’s just how they approach life.
Therefore my second goal is to not appear or talk about how busy I am; even if I really am. I want to invoke that calm no matter if I’m doing a lot of a little. Every time I start to say the ‘B’ word, I’m going to think of those role–model friends.
This year I’m not really setting goals – there are no numbers. Instead, I’m going to just focus on a couple of guiding principles this year:
Have fun and keep the websites alive
Don’t get caught up in the ‘busy syndrome’; appear balanced.
By Deb December 30, 2010 - 6:09 am
And that is why I can’t get involved in the discussions on facebook groups. It freaks me out seeing what everyone else is doing. I have to keep my own goals and stick with my own plans. Otherwise I get wrapped up in everyone else’s numbers instead of my own. I do like reading people’s year end wrap ups though. Seeing how people have progressed and how they did it can be very inspiring. Like you! Ottsworld is a force to be reckoned with in the Travel Blog World. I see everything you have done this past year and it inspires me to give some new things a try as well.
I agree with you, we are busier than ever and it is frankly becoming annoying. We haven’t learned how to balance the art of traveling with the art of blogging, but we’re working on it. Luckily we love both.
Maybe after the Mongol Rally we can all go to an Ashram to find our peace and centre again:)
By admin January 2, 2011 - 4:59 am
Love the idea of an Ashram at the end of the rally!! I think we’ll have hours of therapy in the car too…maybe by the time we get to mongolia we’ll all be ‘fixed’! Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts and Happy new year to you both! Looking forward to spending part of 2011 with you both!
By Gillian December 30, 2010 - 10:02 am
You have described what I have been thinking for a while. That successful people who have left large, successful careers are (somewhat) successful b/c they bring with them those same work habits…a Type A is a Type A no matter where you put them! An overworked blogger is no happier than an overworked corporate drone. The idea is to break from that N.American thought process but I think by doing that we also have to break from our N.American goals. For me, this is the first year i am going to set goals…I need more focus…but I will take your advice and be careful. All the best to you in 2011 Sherry! Cheers!
By [email protected] December 30, 2010 - 11:20 am
Well said! I have the same syndrome, and recently wrote a post call “Bullied by my Blog.” The truth is, it’s not the blog that’s bullying me. I’m doing it with self-imposed deadlines, guilt, and this crazy idea that if I don’t work really hard everything will fall apart. I love your goals for 2011. I’m striving for something very similar.
By admin January 2, 2011 - 4:57 am
Love the title of your post! It’s so true that it is really our self doing which is what makes me so mad at myself at times! thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation!
By Audrey December 30, 2010 - 11:29 am
I really love the sentiment behind this – not always being busy and rushing. Sometimes it’s easy to fall prey into letting your website and projects become an over-demanding boss. Making time for people in your life is a great resolution for 2011. Thanks for the perspective.
By Priyank December 30, 2010 - 11:48 am
What you said is very true, the same argument can be applied to a variety of situations. For example, when I go somewhere, I get over zealous about taking pictures. The passion behind the activity is lost. That’s just being penny wise and pound foolish. 🙁 Thanks for the post!
By Megan December 30, 2010 - 11:54 am
I read through it and saw everyone listing number of subscribers, followers, and ‘likers’ that they wanted to reach.
It’s too bad people can’t just enjoy travel anymore and stress over their blog followers. You’ve done an excellent job at turning travel into a career while keeping your blog personal, interesting and not pandering to the lowest denominator for hits. Can’t wait to follow the rally!
By admin January 2, 2011 - 4:55 am
Megan thanks so much for you kind words as it means a lot coming from you! So happy to meet you this year and will def. be picking your brain on central asia! Wish you could come with us!
By Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World December 30, 2010 - 12:33 pm
I agree with your sentiment. I’m not big on setting goals… New Year for me is just another day. I try to be as good as I can be, making time for things that are important to me every day.
By admin January 2, 2011 - 4:54 am
The laid back approach is best…much more enjoyable isn’t it!
By Lynn Nill December 30, 2010 - 12:43 pm
This is a great post Sherry, because it gets everyone thinking…not just about blogging goals, but about our personal strengths and weaknesses and how to use BOTH of them to our advantage.
Blogging goals? The only one I have is to keep blogging! That’s enough of a goal for me. If people like what I write and read it, well great, but they can’t do that if I don’t write it! So, keep on writing, that’s it for me.
And as for your problem with over-achieving and pushing yourself to the point of unhappiness, well as a somewhat older person, I will give you a little advice (I know, I know unsolicited but that’s MY weakness!). Think HARD about how to use your weakness and turn it into a strength. When in your life has pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do led to learning things about yourself you had no idea were there? What kinds of things can you do for yourself when the pushing leads to that unhappy feeling? How can you learn to forgive yourself for your imperfections and just move on from there? So, you worked too hard for awhile, and now you are feeling it – so what? You recognized it; that’s learning. Now you can proceed to do something about it; that’s good!
I look forward to reading about Milan and especially Jordan and Lebanon! Sarah said she would like to go back to Israel and pretend she is a Christian tourist and then again and pretend that she is a Muslim tourist! I think that’s a great idea – me too!
By Jodi Henderson December 30, 2010 - 1:36 pm
Oh, this post doesn’t remind me of myself AT ALL. Holy cow! I totally get everything you said especially “I really hate doing something because everyone else is doing it”. Although, I have to say that I thought maybe I should try some of this goal-setting stuff this year, to see if it helps me get and stay on track.
I also totally get the whole BUSY thing. I prefer to keep myself occupied (is that a better word?) with projects because 1) I feel like I’m accomplishing something and 2) it makes the transition between weekend and work easier. With that said, I may tell people I’m busy, but I try to never use it as an excuse. I’m curious what your research uncovers about the ‘being busy’ phenomenon. I’m guessing it’s largely an American creation. 🙂
By Chris @CAroundTheWorld December 30, 2010 - 2:59 pm
Yep, that’s the problem with my personality too – everything needs to run at high octane. Even the things I do for fun (like traveling) sometimes turn into work.
I know exactly what you mean about those people out there who accomplish a lot, yet stay cool and collected. I’d love to be one of those people too! Just not sure if it’s possible… 🙂
By admin January 2, 2011 - 4:38 am
Chris how do you ever get yourself to slow down then? I could use some pointers!
By Nomadic Matt December 30, 2010 - 3:13 pm
I set my 2011 for fun. I hope I reach it too!
By admin January 2, 2011 - 4:38 am
best of luck matt! It is hard to remember that it should be fun at times! happy new year!
By Connie December 31, 2010 - 1:02 am
I think your two non-goals are perfect to aim for in 2011! I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures it brings you!
By Anil December 31, 2010 - 9:03 am
Love this post – one of my goals for 2011 is to work on my workaholism too!
By Dan Wedgwood December 31, 2010 - 9:31 am
Great post. I like the term ‘busy syndrome”. I know a lot of people with the syndrome including me at times, such a crap excuse so many of us use and to jodi henderson this post definitely applies to a lot of Brits too…
By Michael Hodson December 31, 2010 - 7:33 pm
we need to swap some of our base feelings and motivations — I would love to feel more busy and rushed. I tend towards the more laid back and well… not working 😉
By Sherry Ott January 2, 2011 - 4:26 am
Together we can make the perfect blogger…I say we get started immediately!
By leslie January 1, 2011 - 7:21 pm
What a great post and a great attitude! I’ve never cared about my numbers, but I do set myself up to by “Busy” and perpetually running behind. I know this. But I’ve also set limits. No, I won’t do another show this month; I don’t care if it’s a good one – I’m tired and it sounds like work. My friends don’t understand me, but that’s okay. I do what works for me, and it’s amazing how the pressure just falls away.
Good luck with everything you take on this year!
By Lola January 3, 2011 - 3:29 pm
Amen! to taking life one experience at a time and prioritizing what matters the most.
I fully understand that need/drive to succeed and produce; after spending 14+ years in the IT corporate world myself before resigning in 2009 to fully follow my heart.
May 2011 be filled with blessings beyond measure for you.
Here’s to living on your own terms!