Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed

I’ve been struggling a lot with my happiness project lately.
Sigh… I feel like I’m always saying that. 

I had a bad weekend.  I don’t know what it was but I was in the worst mood.  The please do not speak or look at me type of mood.  I was on the verge of ripping someone’s head off all weekend.  I don’t know what it was about, but I only today feel more like myself.  During my lunch break I Googled bi-polar.  Not sure if I really qualify for one of the milder forms but I have mood swings like a crazy person.

I have a hard time staying optimistic and staying motivated.  I think too much, I get into negative trains of thought that are hard to shake.  I’m hard on myself.  I always thought I was going to do some cool shit with my life, and the fact that I’m not bothers me.  I also find it frustrating that I never do fantastic with my resolutions.  On some level I know that if I can stick to my resolutions like a machine for a month I could make big changes, good changes.  A month isn’t very long.  A bad week can throw everything off.  If I have a good week, and then a mediocre week, and then fall off the wagon on week three, week four is usually a write off.

So what's not working?  Why aren't I being as successful as I want to be? 
Do I have unrealistic expectations?  Maybe.
I'm my own worst enemy.  I let my moods sap my energy and motivation.  

I'm so tired of being disappointed in my results every month.  Perhaps some of the problem lies in the way I've structured my project.  So I started thinking, what isn't working about the way I've got my goals set up.

1. Most of my goals are small, everyday things.  For some people, small, attainable daily goals might be the perfect fit.  I find for me, month after month little daily goals add up and start to feel overwhelming.  I also find the sense of accomplishment that comes from these small goals only becomes tangible if you consistently do your goal everyday.  Making lunches, for example, would be fantastic if I did it everyday, but I don't.  Instead I just end up thinking about it a lot, buying lunch stuff, and then not doing it very often.  Once in a while is about as effective as never.

2. I'm lacking a system of measuring success.  Usually just after mid month I'll realize my shortcomings on several goals.  I started the project using charts, but after a few months the charts got a bit nuts.  I had so many daily goals that it wasn't long before I was falling behind and the chart highlighted my failures more than my successes.

3. I don't have 12 different aspects of my life that I'm passionate about improving on; and if I don't have 12 then maybe the one month per topic doesn't make sense for what I want to accomplish.  I really only have three or four areas I'd like to make big changes in.

4. Accountability.  I thought at first I'd be doing this project with Melissa, but we had different topics and we did them in different orders.  We also approached the project in completely different ways.  The blog has helped keep me on track, but it feels one sided.

Okay so how can I start to do this differently?

1. Think bigger.  If I only have three or four areas I'd really like to work on, then that's what I should be doing.  I'll divide up my year between three topics, so 4 months per topic.  I'll set bigger goals.  Something with tangible results.  I have to accept that I'm going to have bad days and work around that instead of creating goals that can't work if I have a bad week.

2. Be more organized!  Surround yourself with your goals.  Create a system of deadlines.  Set aside a regular time to do research, prepare for and evaluate deadlines.  I've struggled with a developing a system for this from day one.  Bigger, more clearly defined milestone or event goals will be easier to work towards then small ones like floss every day.

3. Enlist the help of others.  Involve others in my goals to add accountability.

4. Figure out how to best blog about your goals.  The blog is a source of accountability, make it more fun for yourself to blog.

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