The Double Edged Sword of Being Goal Oriented

It seems like to be successful these days you need to be “goal-oriented.” I did an experiment in my late 20s around this idea and learned a few things that seem relevant even today. I created a “30 things to do before I’m 30” list out of the idea that a bucket list isn’t as specific since you don’t know how long you have before you kick the bucket. So I figured, I will probably live beyond 30, Lord willing, so why not? Besides, I wanted to ensure I’d have a lot to celebrate on my 30th birthday. Overall, it was a fun experience and I’d do it again (and I may for another milestone birthday) but I did learn some valuable lessons along the way and wanted to share them here. 

Lessons learned: 

  1. Being a goal oriented person, I loved having this list. It was well received by the people in my life who championed it, and sometimes even helped me accomplish some of the goals (thank you!). But there was a shadow side to the list. I created it with the idea that I wanted to celebrate getting older – despite my circumstances. I freely admit that I created the list in hopes of avoiding the sadness of my life not being what I envisioned when I was little. Most children think 30 is old. And I just assumed I’d be a mother, wife and home owner as a 30 year old. I created these goals partly as a distraction from the missing elements in my life. This was the shadow side – I can hide behind goals instead of sitting with the realities before me. The lesson in this for me was this – I need to be grateful for what I have and not focus on what I don’t have. 
  2. Another lesson I learned from having this list involves flexibility in goal setting. I had a few goals that were something that wasn’t actually important to me. I needed to start pursuing the goal to realize I didn’t want it anymore. 
    • For example – I wanted to go to Africa before I was 30 but I wanted to go to help people less fortunate than me. As I tried to understand more about justice, my influence, and how I can be “helpful,” I realized doing a short term mission trip as a white person would be more about me wanting to feel good and not about the people I could help. So I took this off the list as I continued to think about social justice. Going to Africa is still on other lists though.
    • For example – I had  a goal to pursue my Licensed Professional Counselor credential. As I started investigating that decision, it was going to cost me more in time and money that I was willing to invest and when I thought about my career and what I wanted it to involve, I intentionally removed this goal. 

So now, here is the final iteration of the list (in no particular order)

  1.  Advocate for something 
  2. Do a solitude retreat
  3. Get paid to do a workshop
  4. Visit friend in MO
  5. Read 1 book per month 
  6. Find a mentor
  7. Teach a class
  8. Consolidate online presence and organize email 
  9. Sponsor a child with World Vision 
  10. Kiss in the rain 
  11. Fall in love 
  12. Continue to try new things 
  13. Go to a Christian leader conference 
  14. Create a scrapbook of 2016-2017 
  15. Do enough runs to create a Tshirt blanket 
  16. Continue to fight human trafficking 
  17. Live out life motto 
  18. Continue taking classes and learning 
  19. Tour NC wineries 
  20. 20 paint a canvas not copying a picture 
  21. Apply for an international work opportunity 
  22. Be a counselor for missionaries 
  23. Pay off car debt 
  24. Go to an amusement park 
  25. Lose 15 pounds 
  26. Continue blogging 
  27. Get next job in my career
  28. Visit new cities and countries 
  29. Visit friend in CO 
  30. Be a mentor to someone 

Let me know if you want to know about any of these – I’d be glad to talk about them more with you!  A version of this first appeared on Meaning in the Making 

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