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Ending with a Wimper

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When I started this little blog, I thought it would have a major impact on me. The 2014 year of no goals! I would be so transcendent by the end of the year, so calm and serene. The truth is that I have had a massive cosmic kick in the pants from starting a new job that is, in the most generous word, chaotic. It’s true that some of that chaos is self-inflicted – trying to make everyone happy, trying to do everything the way the guy who had my job before me did, and on and on.

The positive part of me is grateful for the chaos, because its shown me that I really have to dig in and do things in an authentic way. I can’t put on a suit and pretend to be conservative for more than a day. The whole thing devolves and ends up with me either itchy & bitchy, or in tears because I couldn’t make things work. I learned from this chaos, that was the job that I had wanted so badly, that I don’t fit in to parts of the legal world. I am not the type of lawyer who thrives in a law firm environment. Nor am I able to balance the stress of working hard and running my own cases/clients while also beating the pavement to find new clients. So I learned, no partnership track for me. I also learned that I absolutely check out when working with other people who are winging it – flying by the seat of their pants and living on fear and stress.

I learned it the hard way, not one of those moments of “hmm… this doesn’t seem to be working for me.” I learned it with rounds of not sleeping, not eating, constantly weighing myself as if my body shape was the only thing I had control over and by god I was going to win. Which left me eating so little I nearly fainted on a few occasions. Arriving for meetings for church groups and having to ask for honey or fruit to keep from falling down. Not a pretty site. At some point the stress lightened up and I started eating again, and realized that litigation – running to court or freaking out about a trial – was not a career for me. I would end up making some major goof up based on not focusing, not being present and then spending hours or days beating myself up about the goof up\

.  At some point late in the summer, I started fantasizing about being fired and going to work as a bartender.

So that was the summer – losing the battle with not having goals about my weight. Though I did manage to start running again when the stress eased. And the fact that I had decided not to train for events made me sad a little, when seeing pictures of friends marathons and such.  I did decide to go back to training for longer races now that I could enjoy running a little more. And I have plans in 2015 to run a few half marathons – but also to run with people. To have it be fun, and not work. To take the shiny brass ring away from running so that it isn’t one more thing I beat myself up about not doing right or well or frequently enough.

The Fall brought its own challenges of not being heard. Of being treated like a glorified paralegal, even though I have experience and training and honors degrees. Of being so freaked out and scared by the meanest judge on the bench and the craziest yelling-est partner in the firm on the same case, so much so that my hands shake at work sometimes. I took tranquilizers at work to be able to focus and stop the shaking.

I turned 40 and had a lovely dinner party, none of which I remember because work was so crazy, I had so many things going on that I barely sat down at the party, so worried that it wasn’t good enough or cool enough or people were having a bad time and I should have planned something different. I woke up in the middle of the night panicking, and ended up sick.

Then I started moving and yoga teacher training and November was a blur of craziness of my house being chaotic and overwhelmed by boxes and worrying about moving and getting lights turned on and cable hooked up.

By December I was in full workaholic mode. So focused on the move into a new apartment, getting everything to fit, having to give up on a couch, living out of boxes and rarely sitting down for more than a hour. I was sick again, with a terrible cough, and it took weeks to get better. Broke up with yet another boyfriend, making for three breakups in six months, with almost no time in between boyfriends, and almost no time alone, on my own to try to catch my breath. I made silly, stupid mistakes at work. I’d be surprised if I don’t end up being fired from them because I failed to stop. I failed to break and cry uncle and tell people I couldn’t do something. When i finally got a chance to nap, to lay down in bed on Christmas and try to rest and relax, I woke up in a panic an hour later. Heart pounding. It was the first time I’d stopped moving in weeks, maybe even 6 weeks. And the fear and terror about work caught up.

So I’ve realized that all this time, this bright shiny job that was supposed to be so prestigious, is not for me. That I’ve once again tried to go after a brass ring to show that I am as smart and capable as everyone else, and put myself in an environment that is 100% wrong for me. There is little support at work, not many other associates in my year, no one in my office who can help with any of the work that I do, few people to turn to in my firm to ask for guidance on how to do something, and a whole lot of people who yell when I don’t know the answer or procedure for doing something off the top of my head. It’s a nightmare for an anxious person. It’s torture for someone sensitive and scared. The key to it all is confidence and feeling like a squirrel in a fish pond, always doing the wrong thing and struggling for air, doesn’t work.

The answer is to find a way to be myself. Which requires that I figure out who that person is and start liking her a whole lot. Letting her dress the way she wants. Get tattoos that people can see (instead of hiding them under her shirt), doing things she likes and needs to do. Setting boundaries about how things will go and how she should be treated. All of that requires time and rest and support.

And I do feel like I’m so close at work to screaming and crying and walking out with no notice, taking a torch to the place while I leave.

And how does that relate to goal-setting? That’s the thing. I used those goals, the work, the achievements, all of it, to escape from feeling the present. I used it to escape from the world I’ve put myself in instead of figuring out what I need to do to live in the world. How to shape jobs and relationships and activities to work for me, so that I don’t end up strung out and desperate for a break.

This chaos, this nightmare. Its let me let go of the time I tried and failed to do the corporate law firm gig before. I no longer feel like a failure about that time. I see now that I burned out. That I desperately needed a break to get my shit together and find something else. And instead of taking time off and regrouping, I kept soldiering along, creating projects to make myself feel better. Trying to be someone I wasn’t  – be the hippy little thing, with no care for money or eating only raw fruits and veggies and meanwhile freaking out about not having enough money to keep the lights on. By focusing on work all the time, I was in a state of constant reaction. Bouncing from thing to thing, trying to make myself feel better.

This summer when I ran out of work while the long term relationship ended and losing the cat, I realized I needed to move into being able to be present. Even in the waves of grief. I didn’t do it well – bouncing from relationship to relationship so that I wouldn’t be alone, scared to focus on myself and instead falling back into a familiar habit of focusing on making something work. Yoga, walking, running, being with friends, kept my feet on the ground while the world spun around me. When things went sideways at work, it was too much and the old habit of obsessing about my weight came back like an old friend, comforting me by taking me away from how much I was failing at my job with losing another half pound. Or something new fitting. I was like a drug that numbed me each time I got on the scale, one half my brain terrified about losing more weight and being out of control to the eating disorder and the other soothed that I had control over something.

I say this now, because I’ve come to the end of my rope about this crazy job full of chaotic mean people. I’m now looking for a new job, which I’ve realized requires me to let go of what I’ve known for 10 years – law firms, partners, bonuses, etc. What I’ve scorned and hated and tried to leave multiple times. Leaving the known, even when it is bad and isn’t working, for something new and different is like moving into this new apartment. Its totally different – even though its just two miles from the older house. Its walking to get groceries and to yoga. Its friendlier people. Its living so much smaller (the apartment is tiny) and finding out that its so much easier to keep up with smaller. It’s having time to myself, finally, to just watch TV or read or take a bath. Its developing a yoga practice at home again, because I can get up earlier now.

The end of my rope also means that the soft comforting allure of obsessing about my weight has returned. It sneaks in on such small feet. A missed breakfast. A lightheadedness. Lunch getting later and later on weekends, during the week. This time though, I’m looking at it as a friend. Instead of spending energy fighting it, because good people don’t have eating issues. Organized, connected, “with-it” people don’t struggle to eat dinner and have to pray to eat lunch. That was my reaction in the past. To be good. To be right. To fight the eating issues. This time I see it as it is. I want to have control over something and so my brain invented this for me. And so long as I am in an environment with crazy, chaotic mean people I will have this struggle. Figuring out that I have to be myself in order to work, in order to survive also means accepting that I have these eating issues. That to find peace with them (since overcoming them hasn’t worked for 25 years), I have to make my life like the new apartment – smaller, more manageable.

A smaller life also means not setting goals or reaching for achievements because they will win me love and respect. It means figuring out what will work to get me to sleep on a regular basis, and eat in a moderate, healthy way.

So maybe the experiment with living without goals did have an impact. It did have a life-changing effect. I am not the transcendent, peaceful, blissed out yogi that I wanted to be. I am strung out and struggling and bargaining with myself to eat dinner. But I’m present. I’m feeling everything. I’m here with my feet on the ground, instead of planning a way to win some new shiny achievement that will take me out of myself.

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Challenging times for an Achievement Junkie – The Quiet Summer

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I have such lofty goals to write. I have a list of topics even. And yet, I get waylaid by the many things I’m trying to accomplish. Trying and succeeding at some, and failing at others. But there is a sort of liberation now in the failing at things I’m trying. Because they are things I’ve been wanting to try, but held back either for lack of time or fear of what lay beyond. I tried taking a class on herbs and wicca – to explore more about faiths and my own expression of faith and in search of a spiritual community.  In a Tigger like way (Tiggers don’t know what they like but they know what they DON’T like), I figured out more about my faith than before. I found that the online community that was part of that class, which was amazing and supportive and awesome, just didn’t click for me. But while I was trying and failing at that, I was also trying out a Unitarian Universalist church where I felt instantly at home, where I have made lovely friends and felt utterly supported during the struggles with changing jobs and in losing my cat and nearly my shit. Try, fail, try, succeed.

So in failing to write in here, I’ve actually learned a few things. I’ve learned that I do need some time to veg out at night. About an hour with a show I can get wrapped up in. Sometimes longer if i’m excited about whatever I’m knitting or beading. But I don’t need much more than that. Longer than that and its not that I feel antsy, which as a recovering achievement junkie I definitely still feel, but more like I’m sad because there are more things I want to play with/learn/do.

But the urge to feel better about myself by overdoing – by getting more gold stars today than yesterday – exists. It’s always at the back of my mind. Like Mya Angelou said about her years of not speaking – there is always a call of it. The same is true for my need to set a goal for losing weight. It’s always there. I recently cut out wine and cut way back on sugar and cheese hoping to resolve some of my digestive issues. I lost 8 pounds in about five weeks. Yay. but also, uh oh. The scale and the measuring and the idea, in this time of being single again after two years, and missing my loud cuddle monster of a cat, and being in transition at a new job calling for skills I haven’t used in a long time (how many days notice for motions in the bankruptcy court? what is adequate protection?), this time of shakiness, it would be so easy to fall back into measuring and calculating just how long it would take me to lose whatever specific amount of weight I might try. It’s sometimes a daily struggle not to calculate how many calories to burn at the gym to lose more than a pound a week. It’s always there, always calling softly, sometimes sweetly.

So the urge to overwork, to over do, in the words of an older friend of mine, to over process, is there. I lost my cat and by boyfriend in the span of 7 days. The boyfriend is still alive, I should say, just no longer my boyfriend. And I’ll write more about the cat when I have finally stopped looking for him every time I walk back into my house. When I stop thinking he’s going to wake me up in the morning by walking all over me begging for food. And when I stop leaving the kitchen light on for him, so he can play with whatever bit of string is left on the ground, clearly for the purpose of being played with. I loved that loud bourbon sniffing cat.

Luckily I lost the boyfriend and the cat at a time when work on one project was winding down, and I moved five trials from July to November. So work was calm and easy right when I needed it to be. Until all the sudden everything was quiet. Work was quiet. My phone wasn’t chirping and beeping to tell me about millions of emails and texts and on and on. The house was quiet because the loud cat was gone and left alone were the rest of us critters, the wobbly cat and bouncy dog and me, like people stranded on an island trying to figure out how to get off and get back to the loud cat. Silence.

And then it stayed that way for three weeks.  This is probably WAY more challenging than I had planned when I set out on this year of no goals. To face down loss and loneliness with a severe lack of work. But I plugged along. I kept moving, even with a struggle to try to convince myself to just observe how things were changing, at work, at home and beyond. My schedule was changing at work and without the constant 9 pm phone calls from the boyfriend, and without loud cat acting as an alarm clock. My schedule was also changing by getting to more and more yoga classes and making it to the gym, and being able to run fairly consistently, all of which I did not to get drowned in the sea of loss.

And now that work, of a different type entirely, is flowing towards me, challenging me to work in a different way, my schedule is changing in a positive, happy way.  It’s a challenge to have a lot of work, and yet still go to yoga class and take the dog for a walk, even though that lovely pile of work is there to be jumped on and pounced on and dissected. It’s a challenge to have work that is intellectually interesting again, so that I do have to balance how much I do rather than prodding myself to do more so that I can say I’ve done more.

The key, I think, to managing this challenging time, has been to work towards staying grounded. Which I know sounds kind of lame. But honestly, balance is a constant game. Take your eyes off the prize for a day, to handle a crisis, and the dishes are piled up, or who knows when you last did your sheets, or that motion/essay/project at work is now coming close to being due. Balance requires faithfulness and discipline. It requires figuring out what works for me in the good, calm, quiet times. It requires knowing that four yoga classes and four and a half sessions at the gym per week works. It requires knowing that I need to take the dog for a walk at night so she can be calm and let me get my end of day stuff on. It requires knowing that I need Saturday night plans by Wednesday so I won’t feel lonely all week. Knowing what works, and what I need to stay in a relatively balanced position, then lets me know what I need to be uncompromising about. I can miss a yoga class here or there – say for the ridiculous summer cold/flu/voodoo death curse I had – but I can’t miss hiking with the dog on the weekends or I’ll feel off center and anxious all week long.

I think the list of what needs to happen each week, of course, has to change with how my life changes – now that my schedule is changing, I might drop a yoga class if I’m only half into the instructor and would rather do an hour at home by myself – or I might find that I need to have more social events during the week and that will require doing a few hours of work on the weekends.

When I was truly suffering in my old job and trying to make it through week by week, applying to loads of jobs and feeling like I was spitting in the wind, I found a few pictures of the goddess Hecate.  She’s apparently the goddess of transitions – hanging out at dusk with her friends the bunny and the owl.  She has plenty of other attributes (including, but not limited to…) but my key was to think that the transition was a time in itself. Instead of being entirely future focused, entirely living for the moment when I got the new job, or figuring out what to do with the somewhat unsatisfying relationship I was in, it was a thing in itself. A time to examine and think and desire and plot and plan. Being in transition – which for me honestly lasted for six months – was a place.

I know people say many things about the secret of life being about the journey not the destination, and that’s not what I’m saying here. Yes, life is a journey. It’s about learning and trying and enjoying and experiencing, got it. But what I am saying is, sometimes in life you find yourself at the crossroads and you have no way or idea of how to move forward. For me, I mostly knew what I wanted to move forward to – I had the basic outlines of it when I decided it was time to move on from my old job – and I basically knew how to move forward, I just had to wait it out. And in doing that I learned a lot about myself. And I had to face down the urge that I could actually do something more than just sit there and send out resumes and fantasize about my boss’s head exploding (though preferably NOT on that lovely motion I had just drafted). That place of transition led me to where I am now, of trying and failing and trying and succeeding. Had I not landed there, stuck in the middle between whatever I had been living in and decided wasn’t working for me, and where I wanted to be going, I wouldn’t have had the urge to try to tackle my achievement dependence. And I wouldn’t have had the ability to start tackling the need to constantly control my weight. And I sure wouldn’t have had the readiness to jump when the door opened up to a new job. And now, when the door opened up to leave the somewhat unsatisfying relationship, I did step through. With a lot of hurt and pain and anxiety, but I find myself on the other side, where the grass really is greener.

By embracing the period of transition last winter, I can see now that I am still transitioning – at work into a new field and in life into getting what I want for me now. That dream I had of two dogs in the woods didn’t leave space for church meetings, and drinks with friends, and dinner parties and teaching yoga classes. All of which I have learned make me far happier than the idea of having two dogs.

I survived the quiet by knowing it was a period in itself and that it was going to usher in some change.

The Wrong Dog

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That dog I mentioned? The fluffy wondersnurfle? The one with the silky soft fur. Yah, turns out she wasn’t for me. Or I wasn’t for her. I had to break up with a rescue dog. Here’s the thing though, the thing that I keep turning over and over in my head. I wanted two dogs so much. I wanted to walk two dogs through the woods. I wanted to watch TV with two dogs and hang out outside with my two dogs. Until I had two dogs. And then.

Here’s the background: I was worried about how she, the new dog, would fit in at my small house. How the cats would adjust, how my current dog would adjust. But at the back of my mind, I was worried about how stressed I would be keeping a constant lookout for the new dog. Wondering if she would lose it and bite a cat, wondering if she would chew on something important, like a heel or a suit jacket or a report. I wasn’t thinking much about if I had to worry about whether she would pee and poop everywhere. Until she did. She peed and pooped in the house. She didn’t know commands. I kept her in a crate when I was gone, since she was peeing and pooping everywhere and she got increasingly unhappy with the crate. As in, started refusing to go in. And discipline didn’t work well because, as a rescue dog, she had been abused apparently, and would cower and try to get away from me, poor thing, whenever I raised my voice at her. And she didn’t respond to commands, because she sometimes entirely ignored me. There was no way to play to her desire to please me, because she didn’t have one. Training my current dog, I realize now, was easy because she loved making me happy. She’d bounce for joy when I told her “Good girl!” She still does. We just came back from a 5 mile walk that for an out of shape pup was apparently a little longer than she wanted, and each time she needed to rally, I’d just tell her “Good Girl! Almost there!” But not the new dog.

This is probably nothing new to people who’ve had rescue dogs before, and in reality, I should have done much more research into it. I did start researching house training adult dogs, and my shoulders just kept getting tighter and tighter: so much work, so much constant vigilance. No down time for me. And I was fraying at the edges. I was stressed at work. Stressed over what ended up being a break up. I had already had one totally lose it “Dirty Cry” session when something at work basically released me from a summer of stress (ok, it postponed it to a Fall of stress, but at least we have time to prepare for it). And the last time the new dog went on the carpet, Dirty Cry. Totally stomping my feet and crying until I couldn’t breathe kind of dirty cry. At that point, knowing myself as I do now, having worked so hard on not being perfect for everyone, not thinking I had to do everything right all the time, but most importantly, Letting the F Go of Goals, I called the rescue and said I was really having trouble. Later that day, the new dog was uncontrollable to the dog walker, which then told me that I really couldn’t handle the dog. I called the rescue again, told them it really wasn’t working out. Guilt, shame, worry, and stress about the dog. And we found her a new home and the tension eased. I had no regrets about her going to a new home. Sadness that I hadn’t been able to be her forever home and that she was sad when she was with me (or more like when I wasn’t home because she got lots of love and kisses when I was home). But the guilt and shame of not being the kind of person who can rescue a dog hit me hard.

I’m not who I thought I was. I rescued a kitten with a neurological birth defect. I had to teach her to walk and eat. She’s still not perfectly housebroken and I never resent cleaning up after her. She is my joy and my heart and she offers me endless hours of comfort when she snuggles up at night to sleep. She is one part my baby and one part my healer. I rescued a puppy bound for the local SPCA (which t the time was a kill shelter) and raised her the best I could.  Even though she was a high stress/anxiety dog, she is my sunshine and my light.

So this dog, this wrong dog, taught me so much. About myself. That I am not in a place anymore where I lose myself to take care of something else so that I can be someone I think I’m supposed to be: A dog rescuing hero.

This dog, this wrong dog, also taught me a bigger lesson. That the things I thought I wanted, the goals I set and had in my mind about what I wanted from life, might not be true any more. I thought I wanted a house in the woods with two big dogs and a back yard. But when I think about it. It would mean doing less with my church and my family and my friends. Being less involved in my community because I would live further out, I would have more responsibility at home, and on and on.

But it’s so hard to let go of that idea that having the dogs and the yard. They were my goal, my dream, my inspiration.

I still want a house with a backyard that we can grill in and drink beer with my friends. I still want a front yard for flowers and trees that turn colors in the Fall. For pumpkins and mums and pretty candles on the steps at Hallowe’en. But I also want to be able to walk to town to get a coffee and meet up with my friends. And I want to decide at 8 pm that I don’t want to make dinner and stroll down to a little shop and grab a beer and a quick bite. And I want to live somewhere where other people want the same things. I still need the woods. I still need my current dog and my cats and trees. But I don’t know if I need the things I thought I did anymore.

Which is how that wrong dog is a blessing. How that week with the wrong dog turned my life totally upside down and showed me a different perspective on my needs.

I wouldn’t have had this perspective if I was still clinging to achievement. I wouldn’t be able to see this as a positive thing if I had that need.

Which isn’t to say that I am totally cosmically whacked by this recent development.

When I lost my dad, I had been trying to heal our relationship which, for about six or seven years had been rough. We’d had a fight at exactly the wrong time which made me feel abandoned by him and hold on to anger and resentment for so long it became uncomfortable to try and face it again. Face that I had played a part in the ongoing dis-ease between us. When I let go of that, and decided to focus on the present, what I had now, what I wanted now, our relationship went back to having a supportive dad that was rooting for me (I was trying to get back on my feet after a long haul of trying different job situations (yoga teacher + lawyer, nonprofit + lawyer, retail +nonprofit) and financially had been hit hard by the trying and failing and trying and learning). He was not necessarily only proud that I had gotten back to a stable good, financially solid place, but also relieved. More like he had been holding his breath a little bit. And then he was gone. With no warning.

I never got to say goodbye. And I never got to say I was sorry for all those years of holding on so tightly to my anger.

And instead of losing my shit over losing my Dad, which I did partly, don’t get me wrong, I threw myself into work. It was how I was going to stop hurting and feeling guilty and stop feeling like the world was going to swallow me whole if I didn’t hold on tightly to something. Someone.

And then, my beautiful close friend lost her struggle with cancer. Three weeks after my Dad died. Instead of seeing her for the last time in the hospital, I was working. I had said my goodbyes to her by visiting her in the hospital all during her illness. I had said my goodbyes to her by talking about letting go. By trying to find the words to comfort someone who knows that they are dying, but doesn’t know how. Doesn’t know how to not worry about her loved ones, not worry about the hurt and pain. My goodbyes to her were my constant efforts to just.be.there.

So I worked. And I dieted and exercised. And shopped, and worried and didn’t sleep. At one point it hurt to eat anything besides greek yogurt. so I lived on greek yogurt. And became increasingly more attached to work.

It makes sense then, how crazy the workaholism became. And it makes sense then, that the eating disorder took over. Right?

If I had tried to adopt a rescue dog back then, I would never have let go of that idea. I would have been too close. Too tight. Too desperate to not feel bad. To only feel good.

This is the year when I am, by not having goals, trying out new things. I tried taking a policy class, thinking I’d leave law and go back to politics and nonprofit land. Only the reality of that was that I wanted to die. It was boring as all get out and I couldn’t get myself to do my work. Instead I worked on law review articles about things I’m not all that interested in. Because I like legal research and writing, you know, a thing you can get paid to do as a lawyer.

Then I got a failing grade on a quiz where I didn’t actually get the answers wrong, but I wrote them in lawyer language (complex sentences, brief as can be, detail focused) instead of policy/grad student language. Sucks, right? Especially for someone who is used to getting A’s from top law schools and colleges. Cosmic Whack. Made me question what I wanted, how hard I wanted to work for something that I already wasn’t sure how much I wanted to live. Whack. I dropped the class, got most of my money back and never regretted it.

Just like giving the rescue dog back. I packed up the things I had bought for her, some food, some toys and sent her off. And felt immediate relief and ease.

Within 15 minutes I could feel the tension drain out of my shoulders. Within an hour I was looking at my dog in a new light. A grateful, even more loving light than before. A “you are the best thing ever and I love you forever and peanut butter snacks for days for you.” I looked at the cats, and was grateful for their soft, patient but easy way of setting their boundaries. I was grateful for the routine in my life I had built up that makes me happy. Yoga, Church, more Yoga, friends, More yoga. Walks with the dog. Knitting, More yoga.

And what I’m not writing about is the break up. I can’t. I can’t. I just can’t.

I just can’t let go. I can be smart and honest about giving up this cute little idea of what I wanted out of my life. And that it is turning out a lot different than I thought. Oh, I still want a big kitchen with a farm table so I can feed all my friends who stop by for dinner that I wanted when I was 26. And I still want to learn how to make cheese. And I want to have time to bake my own bread. But I am still a party girl. I want drinks in town with friends and making new friends. I want concerts and parties and wine with the girls. And balancing all that is the key, right? To balance that, I have to give up on the big house idea. To balance not working all the time, or not working in an environment that doesn’t allow for me to be a little eccentric and bohemian, I have to give up on the giant salary and live with a very nice one. One that will bring me a nice little house. Just like my car. I don’t have the salary for the swishy BMW, but I did get a very nice Subaru thanks.

I can process all of that. All of that growth that is a freedom. All of that moving forward finally with my life. I can process that. But I can’t process giving up on him. Not because of my need for goals or to be successful – though that was a big part of our relationship – that I thought I had to get married and have kids one day to be “right” to be acceptable. And I had to think through what I wanted. Staying with him, no kids. Moving on, possibility of kids. Did I want them? I worked through what I wanted, separate from him. And I found that I wanted to be a foster mom. I want to be involved in youth programs at church. But small people living in my house on a regular basis, not as much. This isn’t about feeling like a failure because this relationship can’t go forward because we want different things. This is about not knowing how to go on without the person who held on tight when my Dad died. The person who knows how to kick my ass when I need it. Who knows what scares me and why. If he asked me to move to the moon to be back together with him right now I would, because I just can’t let go of him.

As soon as the wrong dog left, I knew I had done the right thing. As soon as he left, I knew I was lost.

Without goals, hitting bottom and being glad for every second of it.

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So whatever became of this little blog? What ever became of the plan to have no goals.

Well, first off, I have to say, there clearly is a difference between having discipline to do something because you like the results, it feels good or has some sort of tangible effect in your life and between doing things you think you are supposed to because it makes you special or noteworthy or gold star stickered. My plan to do yoga all the time – not a goal of daily yoga, or even so many classes per week – has persisted and found itself into getting involved in two new continuing ed teacher trainings. Which will hopefully rekindle the yoga in my life all the time. I managed to stick with that because I needed it. I needed to not have the stress of my POS job not take over my life and express itself as fatigue, IBS and generalized cranky-pantsness. I did not continue to do yoga because it would make me have great buns or arms or whatever. If that’s a goal of yours, awesome. But for me, I need to cut out obsessing about looking socially acceptable. I needed to start just feeling good. Being able to be me in my skin.

And without my friends diet and running, that became really hard. This isn’t the point where I tell you I gained all 50 pounds that I lost a year and a half ago back. I did get softer. Rounder. Fuller. I did find that I was more out of shape. Which was frustrating and upsetting and at one point about three weeks ago made me have a dark night of the soul wherein I literally couldn’t stand the shape I was in. Which was all of 8 pounds heavier than I’d been when I actually liked the shape I was in. Dark nights of the soul, while exhausting, are helpful in showing you either a) how ridiculous the shit you are obsessing about is, b) how crazy and lost and scared you are, how much you are on the express train to meltdownville, c) that it can’t keep going on like this or d) all of the above at various times. I know friends in 12 step programs will say when you get to this place with addiction to substances or dieting or exercise or whatever, you’ve hit bottom. Maybe some of us bounce on the bottom. Maybe I’ve been hidden quietly on the bottom, like a stingray in the sand. Maybe you have to surface a bit and see the sun through the surface of the water to figure out you’ve been hiding.  Whatever it is, the dark place is where you find yourself when the shit you’ve been doing to get through just doesn’t get you through anymore.

And from there, believe it or not, I’ve had some of the best runs I’ve had in probably three years. Slow, lagging slagging, messy runs. No graceful loping gazelle like mastery. No 9:30 miles for miles and miles. But slow sweaty, not sure I can make it through mile 4 runs. And they are perfect. Perfect in running slowly. Perfect in feeling grateful that I can go out whenever I want. And perfect in no longer feeling like I am supposed to be doing something some way that makes me a Runner, capital R. I once made myself a little sign that says, you are a runner even if you only run 5Ks. No more holding myself up to some special place where to do the thing I like I have to do it perfectly, or well enough, or in a way that other people say is the right way.

After buying a new pair of running shoes (mine were beyond dead), I asked about the running store’s running club. I’d deliberately talked myself out of joining time and time again because I had assumed I was too slow. Not good enough. You know, the standard goopy negative crap you spread all over yourself in a way to camouflage the fact that you might want things that are hard or scary or important to you. I held myself back even though it would be a fun way to meet people in my awesome little fun town who might like the things I do. But I finally asked. And asked specifically my “I am flawed, and not perfect and shouldn’t pretend to have a hobby unless I’m awesome at it.” Me: “um, can I join the Thursday runs, even if I am only running at an 11 minute mile?” them: “oh absolutely! There are people who run all sorts of times. Everyone welcome; no one left behind.” Oh right, people don’t suck anywhere near as badly as the mean voice in my head does.

I had planned on having a year of no goals, which meant no races because my competitive, brass ring grabbing self would plan and plot on times. And this did happen. I signed up for a charity 5K with the local bar association and instantly began planning how I would run it under a certain time. Even my fierce, take no prisoners work buddy thought I was insane. I didn’t run the race. I was mostly recovering from food poisoning, somewhat couldn’t get the registration to work, and 100% (does that add up to 200%?) took it as a sign from above to not run the race.

I am signed up for a 5 miler in my little town in about a week. I’m running about four miles now. Slowly, deliberately, mostly with joy and only when I want to. I left my registration in, even though its a hot ticket around here, because I wanted to be inspired to get back to running 5 miles. Which, at a relatively mild pace, ends up being about an hour. And my favorite runs have always been about that time. I focused on how it felt, and what it might do for me emotionally – release stress, help me sleep, make some friends and have fun, and exercise my slightly chubby dog – and I’ve managed to get back out there more often.

My one and only goal, as I had said, was to get a new job. So much that I wanted hinged on that goal. I really came close to just quitting and go into tending bar. With $100K in debt to my name. Yes, it was that bad. It was crying on the way home from work, waking up with panic attacks bad.

I had thought i would have to compromise to get out. I’d have to sacrifice something – time, money, independence. But I spent a lot of time thinking and writing and crying and writing some more. Of arguing with people and thinking things through, that I found, in the end, what I wanted.

When I sat down and started thinking about what I wanted, instead of trying to chase “success”, I made some progress. Guided by writings by fab life coaches like Andrea Owen and Molly Mahar, I made myself think through what I wanted. Literally, down to smell, touch and taste. What would feel like I’d “made it.” What would feel like I had hit every high spot in life?

The answer? A back yard with a porch and a fenced in big back yard where the dogs (plural, I only had one at the time) could play. A car big enough to carry both dogs out for hikes and time to do that. Friends to come over and eat and drink delicious things on a warm Saturday night. Comfy fun colorful things to wear. The end.

I know it sounds a bit fuzzy, but when I broke it down into “how in tarnation do I get these things?” it all started to work. In order to have a decent backyard, I’d need to make a relatively decent amount of money – but not chase gigantic amounts, or I wouldn’t have the Saturday nights and I wouldn’t have the friends. So I had to find a balance of reliable income and reasonable schedule. For me, as an attorney, that meant either a job at a firm with work-life balance and a good reputation (so that their workflow would be constant) or a higher up job with the government. In order to have two dogs, I would have to have a reasonably reliable schedule – which ruled out juggling multiple jobs too.

With that in mind, I refocused my search and applied only for those jobs and started getting some leads. I found a job that was right up my ally – had all the key points and I went for it with everything I had. I faced massive fear and self doubt and a mess of skeletons in my closet (going back into handling some corporate matters in which I had burned out earlier in my career). And I faced all of it because I knew exactly what I wanted. Beer. Dogs. Porch. Yard. Friends.

Yes. I got the job. And it paid more than the previous job only with less hours. And better management. And generalized goodness all around. Because I got the job, I could afford, when my car was about to go kaput, to get the slightly bigger car to fit two dogs. And in telling people why I got the bigger car, people told me about their beautiful, sweet rescue dogs that might fit into the rhythm of my life. And now, I have a gorgeous, though highly chewy, second dog who loves to give a mix between a snurfle and a kiss and is thinking seriously about sitting on the couch with myself and my older dog.

I didn’t write in this blog because I had started thinking about it as an obligation. I had started thinking of the end result. A book. A something. Shiny. With stars. I hadn’t thought about doing what feels good and right and true. Writing, just to write. Because I need to. Because someone reading this might use some portion of it and help make their life suck less. or unsuck. or something new that makes sense to them.

So even though I didn’t do what I thought I would do – without goals, I thought I wouldn’t have to face my massive obsession with weight and diet and exercise, I would just blissfully bounce around, and in reality, without goals I was stripped of a security blanket and couldn’t figure out how to feel good. I had to stare insecurity and lack of enough in the face and start to feel comfortable with it. I’m not one to say that I made friends with the demons. They are still there. I just finally accepted that the obsession wasn’t going to go away if I took some of its weapons away. In doing that, I accepted that I needed some help on that area and how deeply I had sunk into whatever we want to call it. Eating disorders. Disordered eating. Crazy mind-fuck games with food. But without goals, without being focused so hard on doing things “right” I did have to stare things in the face. And from there, made some progress.

I have a lot to learn and think about and write about in terms of discipline and getting myself to do things I want to do, like write articles and write in this blog. And about perfectionism and workaholism and being obsessed with achievement. So there’s definitely more to come.

Mother Nature the Overachiever

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So Bubi, the jewish grandmother, invites Mother Nature over for coffee, to chat, you know, about the recent goings on.  This is their conversation.

Bubi: Come, sit, have some coffee. Let’s get you some cake, right? It’s nice, I made it yesterday. So dunk it in the coffee if it’s dry.

Mother Nature: Thanks Bubi, that’s very kind, but I’m awfully busy. I need to focus on snow this winter, and I’m just not getting it right. Last winter everyone complained that there wasn’t enough snow, and they didn’t get their snow days and on and on. I need to step it up.

Bubi: This is what I need to speak to you about, this snow. Again with the snow. And the ice. And now this freezing rain baloney. What is that? Freezing rain. It’s either rain or its not.

Mother Nature: Well, I was trying for more snow, but I got distracted a bit. I need to get those snow days in. I need…

Bubi: You need to slow down. You’ve made it snow. And Snow and snow. You know what happens when it snows this much? People go crazy. People drive into trees like that nice student yesterday. Drove right over a small tree. Missed the bigger one by a few inches. Those two women, the one in the minivan and the sensible boots and the arty one with the ponytail like a cheerleader, so upset. The ponytail could barely call 911, She called 9111. She’s nervous enough, you know.

Mother Nature: But everyone was Ok. I mean, it was the ice that was left over. If I had gotten the snow right, it would have just been snow. That wouldn’t have happened. I need to try harder, get it right.

Bubi: But honey, you’ve made it snow. 8 inches here, 14.8 inches there, and now last night, another few inches then this freezing rain nonsense. Just stop. It’s enough snow. There have been enough snow days. You’ve done winter. Everyone is impressed. It’s enough.

Mother Nature: But they haven’t seen the sun rise on the sparkling snow enough. They haven’t crunched through the snow in that sound that makes them feel like little kids again.

Bubi: What’s enough? When is it going to be enough snow for everyone? It’s like you’ve chosen the pickiest person to make happy. They won’t be happy, I know them. My cousin Manny, he’s never happy. Stop trying to make Manny happy and ignoring everything else. Drink your coffee and relax for a minute. Let the snow melt. It’s done. Let it be done. Let the goal of more snow than last year be done. Stop working for everyone else and just do this your way. You’re in charge after all. Enough with the achieving for other people.

Mother Nature: Well, I do have to get planning on Spring.

 

What I Mean When I Say Attachment to Achieving

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This blog is about motivation and about an attachment to achieving, and I mean attachment in the buddhist/yoga sense of the word. For buddhists, Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering. The idea is “Grasping at things can only yield one of two results: Either the thing you are grasping at disappears, or you yourself disappear. It is only a matter of which occurs first.” Goenka.  So attachment to achieving would be a craving, a holding on tightly and grasping for achievement until either you or the achievement disappears. You can see that there can be too much of this.  There can be a sense that you’ve lost your self in your trophies and awards.  The things that make you, well, you, disappear. Time with the dog, being present when your kids tell you that same knock-knock joke for the 14th time, it can disappear when all you’re focused on is getting to the next thing.

That’s what I mean by being attached to achieving, and that’s what I mean by being an achievement junkie.  When you bypass all the life stuff to “succeed”.  There is a great Pema Chodron quote about being too busy for life that Andrea Miller discusses in her Editorial (linked below).

“In the dream, she was in the country, perhaps at a monastery, and everyone there was busily preparing for the arrival of Khandro Rinpoche, one of today’s preeminent women Vajrayana teachers.

“Ani Pema,” Khandro Rinpoche said when she finally arrived. “Did you see the sunrise this morning?”

“No, Rinpoche, I didn’t. I was too busy.”

Khandro Rinpoche laughed and laughed. “Too busy to live life?” she asked.

Since having this dream, Pema Chödrön says that whenever she finds herself getting all caught up and habitually, compulsively doing something, she thinks, “Too busy to live life? Too busy to be there for the sun coming up or to notice anything?””

For more on this, read the great article Buddha’s Daughters on Shambhala Sun.

This is the goal. To not be attached to success and its little markers and goal posts so much that I miss actually living my life.  Paying attention enough to notice when my boyfriend is being truly goofy so as to make me smile. That moment of goofy is life, it’s the good life in fact.

Why Success Won’t Save You

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I read an article today that said that only 8% of people who set resolutions actually make their goals. The article went on to say that “the very nature of resolutions set us up for failure.” The answer, according to the article, was to plan better. Set specific, achievable goals.

This begs a question. Is this blog totally against setting goals for anyone? Or just for me? The answer is that this blog is about motivation in general, and how to be motivated without being achievement oriented. Setting a goal to eat more salad isn’t going to make your neighbors think you are successful and most likely won’t make you feel as though you winning the never ending war on weight. So no, this blog isn’t about not setting goals; I’m not anti-goal. It’s me, the recovery achievement junkie that needs to not set goals for a good long time. However, constantly striving for achievement, swinging from one accomplishment to another like monkey bars to keep you out of some sandpit of “failure” or despair, now that I recommend against.

I would argue that this general aversion to achievement that I am putting forth, maybe even campaigning for, has its roots in our fear of failure.  If we try to beat back that fear of failure by setting goals so that we can be what we think others will think of as successful, then we are in a place of anxiety and are never fulfilled. No goal will get you to a place where you feel safe and restored, if that goal is to be “successful” as some kind of talisman against failure.

Let’s stop and think about failure first.  There are heaps and heaps of wildly accomplished people who have lovely things to say about failure.  “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness,” says Oprah Winfrey.  A personal favorite from Winston Churchill is that “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” So failure is not death, yes?

Another attack at this fear of failure is through the idea of abundance. Yes, I know, you are tired of hearing about abundance. The whole Secret thing back in the early 2000s kind of killed that right? The word makes me think of the yoga teachers who drive shiny new SUVs telling us to just leap into the forest of abundance and we’ll be safe. Sweetheart, have you seen my student loans? There is no leaping.

But honestly, the issue with success and constantly striving for it, can be based on the idea that there isn’t enough to go around.  This can provoke anxiety and competition, and all sorts of fun and games. I think money guru Marie Forleo says it well when talking about the need to see money as a measure of success and constantly striving after it. “I also don’t prescribe to a zero sum world-view based in scarcity. Meaning, if you get more money (or love, attention, fill in the blank) — that I get less. Both science and spirituality show us that through collaboration, innovation, generosity and partnership — our collective resources can truly be infinite.”

So with the idea that failure ain’t so bad, and won’t have us living in the park fighting the squirrels for food, I recommend against focusing on achievement as a life preserver.
Whatever is haunting you, if it is, isn’t going to go away with another title, or a better car, or running a marathon.  If it’s really haunting you, it’s going to pop back up with all sorts of new ideas, and at the same time make you worry about losing whatever title, car or marathon race medal you just managed to get your hands on.
This goes back to the idea of process addiction.  The idea that the process of getting the thing, of striving for the achievement at whatever costs, that blocks out the haunting until the striving is done.  As the Twelve Step group Workaholics Anonymous says “All these are ways we cope with the pain of having lost our sense of being and of not feeling good enough. Over-scheduling our lives with activities is how we run from ourselves. We keep busy to blot out our feelings.”
I think that some of our need for constant achievement has become hidden in the world of self-improvement. If you look to the life coaches and mentors who are having a positive effect, say Molly Mahar of Stratejoy or Andrea Owen of Your Kick Ass Life, the methods they suggest aren’t about hitting the next step, the next brass ring. They start with a premise that you, yourself, are fabulous as you are right now and that what you need is not improvement, but removal of the blocks that keep you from expressing your fabulous awesome.  In other words, removing the idea that failure might suck the life out of you as a block to being and contributing as you are. Right now. Right here.
I’ll hit this in a further blog post, but I think just in the way that we bond through Fat Talk, through disparaging our bodies to one another, I think we now bond over self-improvement. As in replacing, “I’m so chubby, I can’t believe I bought this ice cream” “Oh no, you clearly haven’t seen my thighs today” interchange, with “I need to focus on being mindful and of making the most out of every moment because I’m just not spiritual enough” “Oh, yes, and I never savor the moment as I should so that I can be aligned with the present.”
I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to be more mindful, obviously I just discussed workaholism as an escape mechanism, but what I mean is, do you really need improvement? Do you really need to be better? Maybe you just need to ditch the fear and be ok with yourself. Yourself that is imperfect and lives in the middle and I bet, is loved by many people just as you are right now.
I know with my need to achieve, so much came out of feeling like a failure in junior high. Picked on by other kids, traumatized by some events. I set a goal one day of wanting to walk down the main street in my little town as a “success.” (We had moved away from the town when I was 15).  This goal propelled me into corporate law (even though I was happiest writing and drawing and being outside and am not attuned to the “looking out for number one” mindset you need to succeed in that environment). Once I did manage to get back to that little town, years and years later, after I’d stumbled out of corporate law and barely felt successful and was in a financial morass of debt, I did walk down that street. And I thought for a moment about the fact that I had started a couple of organizations, and had helped a few people out, and had managed to get through law school reasonably well, and I decided maybe that could be success for the day. It took the wind out of that desperate goal to show everyone I was as good as them. My thoughts of returning to corporate law evaporated after that day. As did my need to earn money to show people I was as good as them.
I still struggle with the need to achieve goals. I am a little lost at the gym without the goal of losing weight or training for a race/triathlon. What do you mean I just get on a machine and have fun? How do I win at that? Do I beat the guy next to me? Is there some gold star for burning calories? It’s a transition. It’s a new way of thinking and I’m clumsy with it. I recently hurt my right shoulder, enough so that reaching for things became extremely painful. As in reaching for doors, opening jars, giving the bouncy dog scratches with both hands. It’s been about two weeks and its better now, but I struggled to figure out that I should be opening doors with my left hand (and foot) and maybe the bouncy dog could have scratches with one hand for a couple weeks and be ok (she didn’t care at all).  The point is, its clumsy, but it gets you through.
I’m struggling with trying achievement at work too. Not that I can abandon work for a couple days while my brain gets used to not trying to Be The Best at work or bill the most, but that I am currently in a situation where I literally have no motivation to put effort into my work. If I carefully craft an awesome motion it gets the same effect as if I throw something together at the last minute riddled with typos. The problem is, not that I want to be the best, but that I want to have pride in my work. It’s a fine line though. Because it means I have to focus on me having pride in my work, not on an external source of judgment. As in, I have to finish a memo and decide for myself that its lovely and useful, even though no one is actually going to read it properly (given the dynamics of the Philly courts).  And yes, I realize this is a terrible working environment and am doing my best to move along. Which does in fact raise other problems. When faced with a job hunt, what does a recovering achievement junkie do? Let’s go with, decided to look at it from a purely practical perspective: I decided I needed XX amount of money over XX hours and that whatever fits that bill will work. I do have a ton of projects, I am working to fill my resume with other things so I can leave what I’m doing now, but I’m constantly working to remind myself that none of these projects is on a deadline.  None of them are going to make me a better, stronger, prettier person.  And that it’s entirely possible that I will screw one or all of them up. And if I do, so what? If I fail at my class on policy analysis will my dog no longer love me? Probably not, she’s a fairly nonjudgmental sort. If I fail what is the worst that could happen? I’m out my tuition dollars. Which sucks, but they can be made back up again. The worst that happens is not that I don’t get to leave my job eventually. The worst that happens is not that I get sucked into some whirlpool of awful that I can’t get out of.  The worst that happens is that I wasted some time, and probably had fun doing it. Fear of failure, meet focus on learning, on growing.
Am I advocating that the answer to our addiction to achievement is to focus on growing and learning and stumbling through failure. Not really, because if you have kids or elderly parents that are relying on you, the stakes for failure are much higher. I get that. I really do. But I am saying that if you are rushing from status to status, from 5K to marathon in six months, that looking at what’s following you two steps behind, at what’s robbing you of fun or joy or a sense of accomplishment with these things, might be a good idea.
That’s my plan.

Finding Opportunities Without Setting Goals

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I did not set a goal of making more money this year.  In fact, I didn’t even set an intention to make more money. And yet, I’ve had two possible maybe almost opportunities to make more money come up in the last 24 hours.

I also did not set a goal of teaching more yoga. Of finding ways to be on more non-profit boards and do more social policy. And yet, in the last 15 days, I’ve been invited to join boards, invited to assistant teach at one of my favorite yoga fundraising events, and wiggled my way onto a committee on a topic I’ve been following/advocating/trying to get other people to pay attention to for four years.

Why am I telling you all of this? To brag? Well, kinda. As in, look, I can still be a successful person and do cool shit even if I don’t set any goals. That so long as I follow my heart and say yes to every opportunity and don’t think “am I good/cool/thin/awesome enough to really do that?” and just go run after things that seem like fun or resonate with me, then I will have a million opportunities start cropping up in all sorts of places.

This really fits my theory that setting goals is sort of vision-limiting. As in, you only see the goal you are focusing on, rather than a million other opportunities to grow and learn and fail and change and shine. It’s like when I decided my next car would be a Subaru, then all I could see on the road were Subarus. They were following me. They were everywhere! I didn’t see any Hondas and certainly no Toyotas.  Setting a goal of making more money or getting a new job (that is one of my goals, though money has nothing to do with it) had me focusing only on either money or leaving my current job. It didn’t allow for colleagues to call and say they wanted me to come join their firm because the work was more interesting.  And setting goals like “I want to publish a book from this blog” would be limiting because then I’d only be thinking of what would be good fodder for a book, instead of just writing. And really, when I am curious and think of things I’d like to write about, they are everywhere. When I sit down and think, what would be good for a book, all the sudden my creative juices pucker up like they ate a lemon and I’m still sitting there, with the dog staring at me, 15 minutes later.

The moral of this story (is there one?) is that I’m finding that it feels truly hard for me to live without a set goal, I feel sort of aimless and like I’m not getting anything done, but then when I actually catalog all the stuff I’ve gotten done in the last two weeks (two articles published, invite to speak on international issues, green lighted on starting a peer mediation program, pounced on an opportunity to work on anti-trafficking legislation, invites to teach yoga, invites to join a board, and on and on), it’s kind of a gigantic load of stuff. And I honestly, couldn’t be happier about the millions of cool things I am working on right now. Even without those guidepost/northern stars to direct me.

Learning to Be Less

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I made this promise, this idea that I would not set any goals this year. And I made it because I spent 2013 locked in an epic battle of being exhausted from working too much and trying to do to much and also trying to learn to slow.the.f.down. In fact, I started berating myself for not knowing how to slow down. At one point I found myself racing down I-95 to get to a yoga class so I could relax, arguing with drivers in front of me who were, clearly, maliciously, keeping me from relaxing. I even found myself yelling at myself to balance, BALANCE! It was more than just a desire to do things. Many, many things. It was a desire to be more. More of a person. More of the person who runs races and makes it to yoga class and billed 10 hours that day. And published those articles. And made that homemade meal. And had a clean house.

And so, realizing that I had pinned my life down in small pieces by setting all these goals, like a biologist pins dried butterflies to a cork board, and had left no room to explore, I set about trying to slow down. I quit training for a marathon.  I quit trying to bill a million and five hours. I quit trying to do everything all the time for everyone. And it didn’t work that well. I still had weight-loss goals that I set up little bribes or rewards for myself to meet.  I still tried to set up running goals that were smaller. Maybe if the goals and achievements were smaller, I could do all of them, yes? No.

And thus, no goals.

So how is it going?

On January 4, (yes, three days into the plan of having no goals) I tried to revive a running goal. Reading through the Women’s Running Community on Facebook, I found a sweet post about a woman who ran her first 5K of 2014 and had a personal best time. Yay her. I wanted to set some records for myself this year, I recalled. Last year I set a goal of running a 5K in 27:30. I beat it by 10 seconds. So I decided to set another goal to beat that time by a minute. See something starting here? There’s never enough. There’s always something lower or better or faster.

Reading through the sweet post about breaking a personal time record, I said to my darling man that I remembered wanting to run in 26:30 (and behind that getting back to my college time of 21:30).  “That’s a goal.” He said simply. Right. It was. “How about, I’d like to run faster this year?” How about that. That is an intention. Something that might be fun to work on. Sprints in the winter around an indoor track are actually kind of fun. Or puke-inducing depending on how you do them. “That sounds much better.”

So I was three days into this project and already wrestling with need to set goals. How can I just run faster? Don’t I need some kind of end point? And what counts as faster?

In reality, the question I was really asking myself was “will it be faster for other people? Will it count for the Runner’s World articles on running fast? Will I win my age group at 5Ks?” All external measures of faster. The same as the definition of goals – something measurable with clear steps to take to achieve it. But that’s where the problem came from. The achieving of things. The dependence on checking items off a list to feel good about, well. Anything. Myself, my work up to this point. Anything.

So how do I figure out if I’m meeting my intention of running faster? Really? It’s going to have to be the uncomfortable and harder to deal with idea of feeling it. Going to the gym and simply running some sprints. Then doing 5ks that look fun. And having fun. Running with no plan other than to have a good time outside.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

And to be honest, letting go of those weight loss goals – the last 10 lbs, of a 50 lb goal – is super hard to do when we are bombarded with news and web ads and little birds carrying banners, no not the last one, but tons and tons of messages about Achieving your New Year’s Goals. Stepping on a scale still triggers the idea of how much more I have to lose, instead of I wonder how much water I’m retaining from last night’s delicious meal? But I know, just as with running, that there are always more pounds to lose after achieving the “goal weight.” There will always be something that can be fixed or tightened up or moved around. Letting go of a goal to lose means letting go of the idea that with work and focus and maybe even a little obsessiveness I can be more perfect and won’t have to walk around feeling sloppy or like people will assume I’m not trying hard enough, in other words, imperfect. Letting go of a goal of losing the last so many pounds means learning to live with being less than.  Less than the idea I have in my head of what a successful person looks like (hint: everything is ironed and never wrinkles).  Less than the idea I have in my head that if I can achieve whatever society/the media/the mean girls have decided is the correct way to look today (thin! no curvy! no thin! no superdooper cross fit buff! no curvy!) then I will be insulated from criticism from said society/mean girls.  So it’s learning to live with being less than perfect rather than yearning to weigh less and less and less.

We’ll see how that one goes as well.