Maybe We Don’t Need Long-Term Goals… but I Could Be Totally Wrong.
I have a confession…or maybe it is just a statement, but if you looked at the rest of my website, you’ll probably agree it is a confession.
I don’t have any long-term goals. Sure, I have my Big Picture Goal for 2019 (link to newsletter), but there’s nothing in the far distance that I have my eye on. I’m really just looking about 30 days ahead.
For a few years, I was only looking about a week or a day ahead because trying to imagine what came after that induce crushing anxiety and shame. I was in the trenches of looking for work, trying to scrounge up rent money, managing several toxic relationships, and probably suffering from depression.
Looking back, this makes sense. I recently learned that homeless people often have trouble planning beyond a 24-hour cycle. Where will my next meal come from? Where will I sleep tonight? Am I safe in this location? There is no time for planning when you are pre-occupied by the crisis right in front of you. Thankfully, I was never at that end of the spectrum.
I hear stories of people that come into dire straights, who suddenly have an epiphany of what they want to accomplish, and they work tirelessly until they achieve it. For me it was different. My journey back to stability consisted of setting and creating short to-do lists and not worrying or even thinking about the long-term. When the list was done, I would create another short list.
I’ve come a long way, and I’m really quite pleased with my current circumstances. I’m out of debt–thank you, Mom and Dad. I have regular income and can pick up extra gigs as needed. I have a wonderful boyfriend and lovely supportive friends. I have time to relax, and I’m in excellent health. (BP 118/80!)
All that being said, now that I’m in an excellent position to look off in the distance and set my sights on something bigger and better, I don’t feel like it.
I used to think long-term goals were really important, and once you figured out where you were headed 10, 15, 20 years from now, all you had to do was pick away at it. But right now, I’m having doubts.
I guess I would like to be financially prepared to retire sometime before the age of 70, but that’s vague and non-specific. And when I dig below the surface, that’s just residual fear from my recent circumstances of being broke and out of work. It’s not coming from a place of wanting to building a life for myself in my old age. I would love to someday have a sustainable coaching practice, but frankly I think I need my side gigs to keep me from getting bored and chewing on the furniture. I just feel more comfortable thinking short term.
In my defense, research has shown that we are really terrible at predicting what will make us happy. If that’s true, why invest in something really far away when there is a good chance you’ll get there and be disappointed. One step at a time.
If 15 years ago, you had given me a million guesses as to where I would be right now, I wouldn’t even be close. But I’m really happy I got here. And I got here by making lots of small choices along the way.
This might be a fear of commitment and an inherent need to be flexible and unattached. I like to think of it as my way of keeping my options open for when something really catches my eye. When(If) the time comes, I’ll have the freedom and resources to pounce.
Or maybe I’m just not willing to do the work of picking an end goal, mapping out the route and putting one foot in front of the other.
As I said, I could be totally wrong.