by Hayley Doyle
Anybody feeling the pressure that February has already arrived? Are you wondering where the last month has gone? All those big goals packed with punches of positivity, gosh, they suddenly feel like mountains to climb. Well, here’s the thing. Those goals only exist if you create them…
So ditch them!
And before you think, hold on, why? What will I strive for? Let me explain.
I’ve always been a high achiever. I put myself under enormous pressure to hit the heights. Hindsight is starting to teach me that this state of being just doesn’t work well. The only person who will be disappointed that I didn’t reach my goals is me. So why do I do it? Why do you do it? Is it to share the winning goal on social media? How long do you feel the adrenaline rush for? Is it really worth it?
If I reflect upon last year, two things become clear.
I didn’t reach my goals.
I enjoyed the vibe.
Number one is self explanatory. But, two. It feels a little wishy-washy, right? What I mean is that when I realised that those big goals weren’t hit, I didn’t feel sad. Rather than delving into what didn’t happen, I thought back to what did happen. I pressed rewind and allowed my over-thinking and slightly sleep-deprived brain to create a disjointed montage of how the year went… I counted backwards… Christmas, my husband’s birthday, Halloween, the start of the school term, summer… and so on. I recalled a wonderful brainstorming session at a rooftop workspace in London with a colleague on the sunniest day eating Katsu curry. I saw myself on the bouncy castle at my son’s birthday (literally jumping for joy that it didn’t get Covid-cancelled). Okay, homeschooling and lockdown was pretty damn awful, but thanks to that bizarre human ability to spin negative memories into positive ones, I remembered my blissful addition toMarried At First Sight: Australia and hanging out in a bubble with my new baby nephew.
In reality, the year was hard. But all in all, the vibe was good.
I mean, I didn’t lose weight. My fitness levels reached a plateau. I didn’t find that job or secure that deal. I didn’t return to Dubai. I also didn’t want to strangle my husband after spending an unforeseen amount of time with him over any other human on the planet. When my kids returned to childcare and school, as much as I waved them off with enthusiasm and walked home with a spring in my step and a very enjoyable podcast chattering through my headphones, I realised I missed them and couldn’t wait to see them at the end of the day. And in return, it seemed - from the beams on their beautiful faces - that they had missed me, too. When I saw friends, our shared laughter was endless and any ounce of fatigue was instantly cured by their spirit. My family made it for Christmas, a whole year late.
I want to try and learn from this. Specifically because I can feel myself spiralling again. Striving to achieve my goals were perhaps some of the most difficult periods of last year, and yet, here I am again, running on that hamster wheel, going around and around and around. I’m desperate to get off. To stop. To let the thoughts in my head just settle. But I’m aiming for goals and neglecting the good vibes.
Goals are targets set in the future.
The future hasn’t happened and is completely unpredictable.
I have no idea whether or not reaching that goal will make me happy. Sure, I can imagine. Many successful people swear by visualisation techniques. But there must be a limit. You cannot strive so much for something that hasn’t happened, to pour all of your energy into the hope that when that thing eventually does happen, life will be better. If you choose to look left instead of right, isn’t there a good chance you might see that your life is already good in its current state?
I always thought that if/when I became a published author, my life would be perfect. For years, my biggest goal became just that. Never could I have predicted that my debut would be published at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and the second at the beginning of 2021 when the UK went under its third lockdown, once again including the closure of shops and schools. To say the whole experience was disappointing would be a huge understatement. My goals had been reached, but the vibe was not good. People congratulated and commiserated me simultaneously. What an achievement! But, oh, what a shame! I’d envisioned book tours, launch parties, talks, travel, which of course would all lead to more inspiration. But none of this happened.
I came to realise that broader categories contributed to creating a good vibe rather than specific targets. For example; friendships. Since having children, followed by a pandemic, my social life has understandably gone through some dramatic changes. I started to my miss friends horribly, craving our ‘old life’ full of spontaneous adventures and late night heart-to-hearts. I knew it was circumstantial over personal, but that didn’t make it easy to process. Once restrictions lifted and my son started to go to school again, the school run transformed from a stressful rush into one of the highlights of the day. Perhaps other parents were feeling the same; we’d experienced similar lockdowns and were happy to be out and about seeing people. I was overjoyed that I had somewhere and something to rush to! I embraced the ‘hellos’ and the ‘good mornings’ muffled by masks, laughing at the exaggerated eye communications. Eventually the school-gate small-talk developed into slightly more meaningful chit-chat. A coffee. Something stronger. In a year where I thought I hadn’t managed to see my friends much, I’d created the beginnings of many new friendships, part of a new era. That’s not to say I’ve forgotten old friends and moved on! Quite the opposite! You see, once the opportunity arose to see them, the catch up wasn’t so frantic. Rather than hanging onto every second and unleashing every detail of the highs and lows of our lives, we picked up where we left off. Last year, my friendships grew deeper and long may that beautiful vibe last.
Also, since we’ve grown accustomed to staying in these days, you don’t have to be a clean-freak or Marie Kondo’s protege to create your perfect vibe at home. All it takes is a scented candle and a decent lamp… if cosy is your thing. Plan your next boxset binge in advance so you don’t end up scrolling all evening. Ask Alexa to play your favourite artist as you cook, and crank up the tunes as you load the dishwasher. I don’t know about you, but I find I’m less likely to bicker with my family if there is good music playing. Paint some furniture a brighter colour. Invest in comfy clothes you like wearing instead of using your old, grotty PJs. Keep your hair clean. Always have a few items in the fridge that will make you happy to snack on. None of these ideas require intense forward-thinking and as simple as they are, they will spread a relaxed vibe within your home, despite the daily chaos that inevitably occurs out of your control. You might not win that pitch or lose that stone, but at least you’re in your happy place.
I know this is all easier said than done, believe me. Trying to see down the long tunnel of goals might give you a headache, but weirdly, it’s often where we choose to throw our energy, even though the light at the end might never shine bright. Still, if you can meander along singing your favourite song, that’s only going to be better than not, right?
You’ll always score certain goals. Just let the vibe be the winner.