On setting goals


Photo of lists

I live by lists. To do, to read, to cook, to buy, to pay, to try, to learn, to visit, to revisit … I have lists on my phone, my computer, my calendar, my notebook, my blog; Post-It’d up on the wall, scribbled on spare scraps of paper, and inked onto the back of my hand. You would think that such a commitment to time management would make me hyper-organized, but really I’m just out of breath. I’m constantly wrapped up in lists, planning for something, but often feel like I’m racing to catch up to my own schedule.

These lists as a whole translate into cyclical checkpoints: small, near-reaching goals that are “ticked” as quickly as they are written. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals as the big picture: Long-term, short-term, personal, professional… The privilege of being young and having so many options is liberating. The burden, however, is being young and completely disillusioned by time.

I want to believe that I have all the time in the world, to go and grow and fail and fix. How is it possible to have so much time and so little to waste? It’s a constant ebb and flow of abundance and thirst. The more I have, the more I want. But it doesn’t work that way.

Setting Goals

The Internet is lush with information on setting goals. Blog posts reveal the facts and figures, while Pinterest boards inspire users to pin their way to organized perfection. I found tips on setting goals for health and fitness, for financial planning, for professional development, and for 20-somethings specifically.

I’m definitely an advocate for setting goals, and believe they are something that should be reevaluated more than once a year. But I was relieved when I came across this article on the Huffington Post claiming that setting goals can do more harm that good. Stephanie Zamora writes that you should only have 2-3 priorities in your life at a time, or else you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed by exhaustion and disappointment.

At first I thought, “Great, now I need another list for priorities…” But the lesson here is to step back and decide what is truly important, and focus your time and energy doing those things. I had some trouble choosing only three, but I think these most accurately reflect the things that I want and love, in this moment. In no particular order:


Photo of notebook

This has recently become a joy for me. Although I majored in writing in college, I always approached it from the business standpoint: marketing, publicity, sales… I never thought that I would pursue writing in the creative sense, and actually enjoy doing it. This is a goal where I would like to focus more attention.

Objectives: Get better at curating material and develop a more concrete editorial calendar for this blog.


Photo Vally of Phocis

This, on the other hand, has been a lifetime love affair. There are few things I enjoy more than packing a bag and hitting the road, whether it is to discover a new place or return to my roots. It is thrilling to meet new people and indulge in new experiences, as it is a distinct pleasure to reconnect with familiar faces and places. Travel is an opportunity I hope to take advantage of for the rest of my life.

Objectives: Just keep going.


Photo of yoga mat

How can any of us do anything without our health? My health is necessary to fulfill the aforementioned and any future goals in my life, and should be a priority. Also, there is something so fulfilling about being able to open a really tough jar. Early on, my lack of hand-eye coordination seriously hampered the development of any actual athletic ability. But I do enjoy a variety of physical activities, like running and yoga.

Objectives: Pay equal attention to mental health; Take the time to relax and unwind.

To live life by time’s watch is constricting; what is truly liberating is the ability fall into step with life as it comes. I don’t think that I’ll be able to relinquish my dependence on lists completely (I mean, I still need a list of top ten places to travel, right?). But I’m glad I’ve whittled away enough to put a few not-so-important objectives on the back burner. I’ll make a note to reevaluate in six months, but I’ll be okay if I lose it somewhere between the lines.

Early to rise

Photo of sunrise

I’ve always been an early riser. I love the calmness and quiet that comes with mornings. I wish I could give concrete tips on how to learn to wake up earlier but really, there is no method to my madness. There are some days where I wish I could sleep in, but no matter how tightly I clench my eyelids against the sunlight, snuggle beneath the sheets, or smother my face against the pillow, once I’m up, I’m up. No later than 7. Usually 6. More recently? 5:30.

If it serves as any inspiration at all, I can list a number of benefits to waking up early and things that I enjoy about rising with the sun.

According to the experts, waking up early means:

Success: A list of 23 successful, early-rising entrepreneurs.

Better Grades: A study by Texas University found that students who consistently woke up early each day scored better test scores and overall GPAs.

Productivity: Getting a jump start on your day  provides time for planning and anticipated problem solving.

Stress relief: Time to sip (not chug) your coffee, pour over the morning paper, enjoy a leisurely shower… With just 15 more minutes, the possibilities are endless.

Meditation: Set the tempo for your day: Stretch, plan, focus, read, write, plan, relax, breathe.

Exercise: Increase your energy and alertness, release endorphins, boost metabolism, and get a better night’s rest.

And here are some things I love about waking up early:

The view.

Photo of sunrisePhoto of sunrisePhoto of sunrise

The solitude.

Photo of empty streets

The first cup of coffee.

Photo of coffee cup

Not to mention…

Breakfast is the BEST meal of the day.

Photo of breakfast

You have time to make your lunch…

Photo of lunch

Figure out what to wear…

Photo of scattered clothes

And all of your favorite options are available at your local coffee shop.

Photo of bakery items

So get up, get going, and carpe the fuck outta your diem.