147: But what’s your actual goal?

147: But what’s your actual goal?

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The other day I was walking around the farm making a list of the things I had to get done and it struck me just how many goals we’ve reached since we moved here 10 years ago.

It also occurred to me how many things in my life are extra or complicated or ridiculous or pointless and aren’t part of the goals I made. Or are working against the goals I have made. Or are way more work than it’s worth to reach a goal I never actually made.

Let me explain.

It’s important to know what your goal is so you know if the things you’re doing are actually helping you reach that goal.

There is a point where you’re doing more work than you need to for the payoff you’re getting. For instance, sometimes working four extra hours on a project that you really need a break from doesn’t net you four hours worth of extra accomplishment. Cramming for two extra hours for a test doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to remember more. And we’ve all heard the argument that there is a point where working overtime isn’t really worth it because of taxes.

There are things to consider in my own situation, like: does putting out way more content bring way more people to my website/podcast/Youtube? Not necessarily. Is putting out hoards of content way more work for me? Yes, yes it is. Is being on every single social media that exists going to grow my community? Not necessarily.

There’s a point where the extra work isn’t getting you anything extra, and that point is different for every person, every genre, every job. There is a point where the work isn’t moving you forward, it’s just more work.

Be honest about your actual goals

Doing a podcast because it is a source of income can bring with it a different set of rules and expectations from someone who is podcasting because they like to podcast. And someone who is podcasting because they like to podcast can sometimes find themselves tied into the rules and expectations of someone who podcasts for income and not even realize it. And one day, they take two seconds to think and realize, “Wait a second, what is my goal here? Why am I doing this? Something doesn’t line up.”

Sometimes the goal we set for our self isn’t the goal we actually wanted. Or sometimes the goal is right, but the approach is wrong. In either situation, we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves and get off that hamster wheel of what’s comfortable and reassess what we actually want and what will really get us there.

I want to branch out and try new things! I want to be spontaneous! I want to do one thing everyday that scares me! But you absolutely hate doing one thing everyday that scares you, to the point that you are horrible to be around, and people are wondering why are you doing this?

You either need to suck it up, buttercup about reaching that goal, or you need to accept that the goal that looks really good as a quote painted on your wall isn’t really your goal.

How many of us have said I just want to be happy and less stressed, and then we willingly add things to our lives that make us unhappy and more stressed? And then we won’t give them up, but we say our goal is to be happy and less stressed?

How many of us have said I just want to have a simple, uncomplicated life… and then realize that’s what we have, that’s what we’ve created for ourselves, but we feel guilty that we’re not doing more?

How many homesteaders have wanted to have a little garden and a few chickens for eggs, and then suddenly they’ve got ten goats and eight rabbits and a garden twice the size of their house? They got on the hamster wheel and forgot what their goal was. They bought into the I have to have a huge homestead with all the things when that was never what their goal actually was.

How many people have quit their job to start their own thing because they wanted to be more in control of their life, they wanted to have more time with their family, etc… and then get sucked into a situation where their “side hustle” starts to control their life and they have less time for their family and everything else they wanted time for?

How many of us have said that we want a life that allows us to be flexible, and then we get frustrated when we’re asked to be flexible?

What is your actual goal? What is it that you actually want? Here are four tips to this whole goal thing.

1. Understand what your goal is

Understand what it is, and what it will look like when you reach it. Many of us make that picture much more complicated than it needs to be. Is your goal to be happy? What does that look like? Is your goal to make 200k this year? Replace all the windows in your house?

2. Have some way to track and analyze what you’re doing

You won’t know if things are working if you don’t pay attention to and track what you’re doing. If you want to save money, track every penny. If you want to be more productive with your time, track where your time is going now. If you want to lose weight, track what you’re eating. If you want to know if the videos you’re making are working for your audience, dig into the analytics on your site.

3. Be honest about what you find

Sometimes this is the hardest part, especially if what we find doesn’t line up with what we thought would happen. We often assume a + b = c, but sometimes return on investment doesn’t work that way. Don’t assume that 15 hours of work on something will net you 15 hours of payoff on that thing. You might reach the same payoff with only 10 hours of work, and most of us don’t like realizing we’ve wasted five precious hours of our time.

The flip side of being honest about what you find is did you meet your goal? If your goal was to be able to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, and you’re getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, why are you still upset? Why don’t you feel fulfilled? If your goal was to raise 75% of the meat your family eats, and you raised 75% of the meat your family eats, you did it. You. did. it. You reached the goal. What’s the problem?

Some of us have a bad habit of setting goals, reaching goals, and still feeling unfulfilled. That’s a problem.

4. Change as necessary

Your analytics or your tracking can be staring you right in the face, screaming this is not the way forward, and if you don’t make the necessary changes, nothing will change.

When you dig into things and realize something needs to change—either your goal, or your approach to it—you have to make the change. Does your homestead need to grow? Shrink? Do you need to move? Stay where you are? Do you need to calm down about what you’re currently freaking out about because you’re treating it like something it isn’t? Do you need to completely change paths? Do you need to be brutally honest about the path you’re actually on?

Goals change. That’s the point.

Now, this isn’t to say that goals don’t change. Because they absolutely do, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s how we grow. But I see a lot of folks hanging on to goals that don’t serve them anymore, goals that need to change, goals that were never actually the goal in the first place, and sticking their head in the sand and continue on with the mess is wasting the gift of life they were given.

Make goals. Track what’s happening. Be honest about what you find. Change as necessary.

This is your life. Being honest about your goals and taking a dang breath when you reach them are what makes the journey that much more fulfilling.

Amy Dingmann, 5-17-21

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Books by me, Amy Dingmann: My books

A tower of wooden blocks with a wooden star set on top as if someone has reached their goal.

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