Keep your goals to yourself

Keep Your Goals to Yourself

This time last month, the blogosphere was buzzing with talk of goals for the New Year.

Some big. Others small. A few doomed to fail because people’s hearts weren’t in it, but they felt the need to join in. For so many, most of these goals have already fizzled out from a lack of discipline, direction or simply giving enough of a damn. But I suspect many of us have something in mind that won’t fizzle out quite so easily. We have the kinds of goals that speak to us on the gut level, even if we don’t quite know how to talk back yet.

And I’m here to tell you, if you’ve got one of those big, scary, possibly life-altering goals that—even after the hype of the New Year is long gone—you really want to see fulfilled this year, keep it to yourself.

I get it—you want support. You need accountability. And yeah, putting it in writing and broadcasting it to the world makes it feel real.

But you know what else feels real? Quietly putting in the work. Every single day. Not seeking validation from people with pesky little opinions about what it is you’re trying to accomplish or whether you’re cut out for it. You know what sharing your goals with the world really is? A distraction. A subconscious attempt at seeking permission and praise. A mind trick that makes you feel as if you’ve already taken the most difficult step by admitting your plans when in fact the hardest part is getting started—and not quitting when you get stuck.

You’d think putting it out there will hold you accountable—or at the very least, guilt you into following through on your proclamation because you can’t take it back. But the world doesn’t hold you accountable for anything, except maybe taxes. If it’s something you truly want, you don’t need an audience to get motivated. You need a plan of attack. And when that plan gets shot to hell (even the best-laid plans can fall apart when they’re passion-driven), you need to decide to keep hacking away regardless.

I’ll make one concession, because we could all use someone to tell us we’re not batshit insane for chasing the dream. One person: a friend, a partner, a coach or mentor, someone whose advice you trust and who will remind you why you got into this mess when you’re knee-deep in self-doubt. One person who gets what it is you’re after is way more valuable than a noisy crowd of strangers.

All the rest? It’s on you.

 

15 things you should never feel guilty about

15 Things You Should Never Feel Guilty About

Taking a sick day.

Staying in your pajamas until noon.

Not checking everything off your to-do list.

Changing your mind—for the sake of your heart.

Letting go of commitments that drain you—commitments that could be fulfilled by someone else.

Quitting that job you hate.

Ending a relationship that doesn’t light you up.

Not mourning the way people expect.

Giving the honest opinion you were asked for.

Letting go of friendships that give you no pleasure.

Going back to work after having a baby.

Eating. Anything.

Investing money in something that gives you pleasure—whether it’s a hobby, your education or that one pair of jeans that make you feel really, really good.

Feeling totally, completely and giddily happy.

All the embarrassing, questionable, not-totally-upstanding things you did years ago.

 

If you screwed up and offended someone or acted selfishly recently—apologize. If your privilege or good fortune is making you feel uncomfortable—lend your work or your words to a worthy cause. And if you’re stuck in a cycle of destruction, self-indulgence or tomfoolery—take the first step to end the cycle.

Everything else? In the words of Taylor Swift (yeah, I just went there)—shake it off.

P.S. You are enough | Confessions

Dealing with the time change

Daylight Savings Time blues

I didn’t think it was possible to feel S.A.D. in SoCal.

S.A.D., of course, being Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I mean, other than my big career goals and all, the primary reason I moved to an area where seasons are at times indistinguishable was to avoid the gross meh feeling I get at the beginning of fall every year. But lo and behold, I’m feeling a bit meh. I don’t exactly expect sympathy to come pouring in here, though. I still have a tan in November, for God’s sake.

Still, with sunset at 4:58 p.m. (and only getting earlier through most of December), I don’t think it’s totally ridiculous to get the fall blues in the Golden State. (Contrary to popular belief, SoCal residents don’t spend every day frolicking at the beach.) Research has proven the time change is overall shitty for your health, safety, the economy and probably everything else that’s good and important, but I’m just guessing.

So how to deal with the lack of vitamin D?

Lately, I’ve been setting my alarm a few minutes earlier than normal to spend more time soaking up the morning light that pours in through the kitchen. These days, our apartment gets dark pretty early, so it’s nice to make up for it by not missing out on the best sunlight. Plus, I actually have time to eat breakfast peacefully, and I’m more likely to conk out at 11:30 at night. (I used to be a night owl – what happened?!)

After a period of going light on the exercise, I’ve been making an effort to step it up and go on more runs. Putting my shoes on is the hardest thing to do when I’m in a fall funk (I’d so much rather eat leftover Halloween candy), but when I come back from a jog, I feel like a new person. There is no better pick-me-up.

I always like to have something to look forward to, but it’s especially essential this time of year. It helps that Thanksgiving is right around the corner (and John’s sister is coming down from Northern California to stay with us!), but little things like a new book or recipe, a Saturday afternoon drive or a movie night in all put me in a good mood.

And, if all else fails, a bottle of wine (to share) always does the trick.

For those of you who suffer from the hell of Daylight Savings Time, how are you coping with the time change? Do you think it’s as stupid as I do?

A quarter-century of wisdom (take it or leave it)

25

The internet is obsessed with being twenty-something—in list form.

Especially when it comes to turning 25.

A few choice headlines from Thought Catalog:

“The 25 Scariest Things About Turning 25.” “25 Things A 25-Year-Old Should Do.” “25 Things Every Woman Should Have By The Time She Turns 25.” “21 Immature Dating Habits You Should Grow Out Of By 25.”

(Couldn’t the author of that last one think up four more immature dating habits to make the headline a tad more consistent?)

I, too, am particularly moved by the significance of turning 25. Partially because that’s how old I turned today. And because it’s how old my mom was when she had me. (Whoa.)

But I don’t feel compelled to tell my peers what they should be doing, as so many lists suggest. What gives me the right? I’m only 25.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot worth sharing, though. My crazy gray hair that won’t quit clearly indicates there is some wisdom to be gleaned from my quarter-century on this earth.

For example, I’ve learned (thankfully early on) that it’s more important to be smart than pretty. And that it’s even more important to be kind than smart.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no when it truly is right for you, but that sometimes, you need to say yes when it would be easier to say no.

I’ve learned the value of finding and honing your voice, both written and verbal. After about 20 years of writing, I truly feel at ease in a voice that belongs only to me, and that’s a beautiful gift. It’s a lot more challenging to be vocal off the page, but talking about the things I’m passionate about has helped me find my voice in other important ways. Like everything else, this takes practice, and I’m getting better at it.

I’ve learned not to struggle against the uncertainty of life, because what’s the point? I’d rather see the beauty in it. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, and I’m oddly excited by that.

And I’ve learned that there’s nothing “scary” about turning 25 (or 30 or 50), and that unsolicited advice about what you “should” do or be or have or aspire to is bullshit. Society tries so hard to tell us otherwise, and a lot of companies make a lot of money by doing it. But when I look at real people – the people I’ve grown up with, the people I’ve met and had a connection with and never saw again, and the people I hope to meet someday – I know that there is no such thing as the right or wrong way, but just our many, varied, flawed and beautiful ways of living our lives.

And no way of life worth striving for can be easily summed up in 25 bullet-pointed commandments.

So cheers to 25 and beyond – here’s to not having our shit figured out and being quite all right with that.

How to befriend anybody (even if you’re an introvert)

create a spark

I am a journalist and an introvert.

My job requires me to talk to a lot of strangers—including, sometimes, strangers who don’t want to talk to me—and my very nature dictates that I’m often perfectly content to keep to myself.

The challenges and pleasures of being forced into conversation with people I might not have much in common with has taught me a lot about befriending people in everyday life, and meeting new people has become all the more enjoyable for it.

The secret to befriending anybody? It’s not so secret: you just have to ask questions.

We introverts typically don’t require large groups of friends to feel happy and fulfilled. In fact, many of us prefer to have a handful of close friends and wouldn’t be sad if we hardly ever went to parties.

But what many of us do value is having meaningful conversations and making one-on-one connections. You can have those connections with almost anyone you meet, and you don’t have to suffer through small talk to do it.

Good conversation is a skill that can be learned. Before an interview, young journalists often will come up with a list of questions written perfectly neat in fresh notebooks and will cling to those notebooks for dear life, hardly straying from the order of their list. But the more interviewing experience they get, the more comfortable they become having conversations that flow naturally and asking smart follow-up questions.

As I’ve developed those conversational skills, I’ve gotten better at listening and picking up on the things that people will open up about, if asked. I’ve seen people’s eyes and body language become more engaged and less defensive by showing my genuine interest and endearing myself to them. You know what always does that trick? Asking someone to explain what they do: Not just “what do you do?” but “how do you do that?”

A few simple questions to keep the conversation going:

  • What do you like to do?
  • What is that like?
  • How did you learn to do/become interested in that?
  • That sounds challenging. (Not a question, but a good way to get someone to elaborate on the challenges of their work or hobbies – everyone thinks their job is hard.)
  • How did you two meet?
  • I’ve been meaning to check out new [books/restaurants/running routes]. Do you have any suggestions?

Of course, the more you talk to someone, the more specific-to-them questions you can ask!

If you assume the mindset of an interviewer, at the very least, you’ll learn something interesting about whoever you’re talking to, and chances are, they’ll automatically warm up to you. And if you’re talking to an equally thoughtful person who reciprocates the interest, you’ll have an engaging two-way conversation that you both can get something out of—possibly even friendship.

This method is good for anyone, and introverts especially will love this style because it puts the focus on the other person and on having a genuine dialogue. You’ll come off as outgoing and engaging by simply asking questions.

What tips do you have for making friends? What are some of the most surprising connections you’ve made as a result?