The Down Side of Goals

This thought came to me as I was walking the dog in the 90 degree weather yesterday. I don’t know if it was inspiration or heat induced delirium.

I started thinking about my Goodreads reading goal. I set my yearly reading goal at 100 books every year. Most years I make it. Last year, I changed the goal when I struggled to read during the first lockdown. Goodreads telling me I was way behind on my goal was stressing me out and then a friend posted on Facebook about changing the goal so I did it as well. Currently, according to Goodreads, I am two books behind schedule to get to 100 for the year. I just finsihed reading The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. I liked the book, but it was over 900 page long. It was not a quick, easy read. There were moments while reading that the thought crossed my mind that it was not going to help with the fact that I’m behind on my goal this year. This happens a few times a year when a book takes longer than normal. I like the goal because it tracks my reading and helps when I do my book review posts, but the number should be the least of my goals in reading. A 900 page book might take me longer to read, but reading thee 300 page books wouldn’t be better just because it helps with a random goal. My reading goals should be less number based and more enjoyment based. A goal to stop reading a book if I stop enjoying it no matter how many pages I’ve read. A goal to read a more diverse selection of books. A goal to turn the TV off and read for at least an hour a day, preferably outside on my deck.

I had the same issue with career goals. When I was working at the jail, my entire career goal was to get transferred out of the jail. Part of that was a desire to not work in jail Part of that was the assumption that not being the jail guy would help advance my career. Eventually, I was only working in the jail two days a week, but I still l had the goal to move out of the position, now more for the assumption a new title would mean more respect for my work and a better chance to advance. After 19 years, I was finally moved out of the jail full time. I worked with people I liked I enjoyed most of my job. I was still technically in the same position I had been in the past 19 years, just in a different location. I kept applying for promotions and kept being rejected. I eventually applied for and was transferred to a new position. It paid the same, but I had the assistant manager title. I went for the title thinking that would help the next time I went for a promotion. It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. I had more responsibility and a staff to supervise with no upgrade in pay. I eventually reached a point where I was at the top of my pay scale and no longer eligible for raises. A very stupid, unfair thing where I worked. I worked under a toxic, incompetent person who didn’t want to do any actual work but wanted to micromanage everyone else’s work. I spent so much time focused on my goal to achieve a title that I forgot that my goal should be to actually enjoy my job.

Moving forward I will try to have goals focused more on joy than achievement. I want to read books that make me desperate to pick them up again because of the story, not the numbers. I want to discover great, new books and authors. I want to get to the books I’ve missed over the years. When I eventually get a new job and want to do something that makes me happy to leave the house in the morning. I want a job that makes me feel good. I want to work with people who don’t make me miserable.

Goals of achievement can be good. My reading goal helps motivate me to read instead of just veg out in front of the TV. Advancement goals at work can make you better at your job. Just don’t sacrifice joy for achievement.


10 thoughts on “The Down Side of Goals

  1. Excellent post and reminder. I gave up on my Instagram challenge because I just didn’t enjoy it. Sometimes you have to think about what the achievement costs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! 100 books. That’s a lot. My goal comes in as a whopping 6 for the year. Ha ha! Between my other two hobbies, there just isn’t enough time to spread out between the three. Now that the weather’s nice, I have started reading during my lunch hour in my car. I find I make pretty good progress with one hour/day.

    Liked by 1 person

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