Life

Goals, pressure, insanity and love.

This week was a stressful one for me. I’m usually not a very goal driven person. But this past week was different. I had set myself a goal to launch my newest creation on the 18th of July. And with that deadline came a load of pressure…

I’m not a fan of pressure. Or deadlines. Or goals. I feel that it removes all that is good and real from the current moment. It makes us live in the future and think “It will be okay when I’m finished this project. Life will go back to normal again. Everything will be okay.”

Goals make me tired, stressed, lazy, irritable and just horrible to be around. I prefer to wake up with the sun, slowly enjoy my cup of chai, and depending on my mood, decide what I want to do with my day.

When you have your mind set on reaching a goal no matter what, you tend to neglect all the good things in life to get there.

You’re so focused on reaching that moment in the future when “everything will be okay again”, that you pay no attention to what’s really going on around you.

Sometimes, you don’t eat. There’s just no time (you tell yourself).

You snap at people who annoy you in the slightest way, usually the people you love the most.

And you land up going to bed way too late and exhausted. And then you can’t sleep. Your mind is still buzzing with anything and everything to do with accomplishing your goal. “I haven’t done this yet, things are moving too slowly. Let me make a note of that on my iPhone right now so I don’t forget to do that in the morning.”

By the time you actually get to sleep you fall into such a deep sleep that you dream the craziest shit and by the time you wake up you feel like you need a sleep to recover from your sleep.

But it’s time to wake up now and hit repeat.

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results. 

~ Narcotics Anonymous

I reached my goal and launched on said date, but it wasn’t as glorious a moment as I had envisioned. I was broken. I needed 2 full days to recover. To let my mind rest. My body eat, drink and sleep. And my soul come alive again.

Setting that goal caused me to lose sight of my core desired feelings in every way. When I stopped concentrating on how I wanted to feel, before, during and after my project, no matter what the date, I stopped living.

If I had a choice to go back and do it all again would I do it differently?

No. I don’t believe in regrets. I have learnt and grown from this experience. The end result of my project is amazing and I feel like a proud Mom when I browse through the members area of what I have created.

But something was missing in my life during this period. Love. Love for myself and everything around me.

And if you can’t give love you can’t receive love, no matter how much someone tries to give it to you.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny winters day in Cape Town. The best kind. Light breeze, blue sky, perfect view of Table Mountain. I sat in the sun with one of my dearest friends, painted my nails red and smoked a joint. Yes, I smoke weed from time to time, shock horror.

I sat on my balcony, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin, chilled out to the max and opened up my book, The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte, I read one page and it put everything back into perspective: Being genuine is the only way to go if you’re here to really, truly, fully live.

And just like that life is good again. Love is all around. Don’t forget to really, truly, fully live, in every moment.

Do you find yourself missing out on life when you’re working towards a goal? Let me know in the comments below.

22 Comments

  • Deirdre

    Excellent article – loved it ! Will now practice it and see if I can get to the other side of the road and stillbe able to love the people around me.

  • Suzie Cheel

    I have started to set intentions and know that i have to make it fun and feel good about what i am doing. loving what I do makes it easier and i am learning from my mentor do do this and not miss out on life. It’s a choice I make. great post BTW food for thought

  • Flo Bradley

    You have a great point about how goal setting can absorb you. One way to incorporate balance though is to set set goal in all areas. For example, I am writing my first ebook currently and have a goal to finish it in 30 days. However, I just take it in bight size chunks, set a time when I am going to work on it and stick to the plan. I also have a goal to play with my children every day and yesterday we had a dance party in the kitchen. This total life goal setting model has really helped me and my clients stay focused on the future yet present in the moments.

    • Shannon McLaughlin

      That’s awesome Flo! Great that you can stick to your goals and have fun at the same time, all about balance. Love the idea of your dance party in the kitchen, very cool! I might try that sometime…

  • Kimba

    Good morning Shannon. I’m a bit of an opposite of you – but I blame a lot of it on being a Virgo! I seem to function better when I make lists and I can see where I need to maximize my energies. I take great pleasure in striking items off my to-do list: finished – yea! But, I will say that in the past five years, as I’ve moved from an office world to a consulting world, I’ve found that I do enjoy being more “in the moment.” I’ve learned to use my to-do as a tool instead of a list of absolutes. And, as a writer I’ve learned to sometimes not work from an outline bu tto instead just let the writing flow naturally – it is indeed a balancing act.

  • msdiane

    Goals have never felt light to me and I have always had somewhat of a distaste for them as well. I like to set intentions and I also ask Spirit what is in my highest and best interest is to do that day. Sometimes I have heard to go take a walk and I think “but I have so much to get done” but when I take the walk and come back, the work goes so much faster and easier.

    Loved the article!

  • katelindsay

    I like being desire driven for sure. And I am. But I am also a bit of a list maker. I really like being able to cross things off of a To Do list. It has a pleasure for me that is almost ridiculous. My list though, is always a mix of the regular day chores like “clean the bathroom, buy cereal” etc and some of the things that I really do feel driven by desire to do. Sometimes for me I am more likely to forget to eat because I am so into my project. I do so love that you celebrate the completion of anything. Super important.

    • Shannon McLaughlin

      Thanks Kate, love how you referenced ‘desire driven’ in your comment 🙂 That’s actually a really cool idea to list the things you feel ‘driven by desire’ to do, on your actual to-do list – that makes list-making seem a lot more appealing!

  • Tai Goodwin (@TaiGoodwin)

    I used to live in this space. It’s a hard thing to realize only after you reach your goal that it’s not exactly what you were hoping for. I’m learning to enjoy and be present for the experience not just rush to the results.

  • Nathalie Villeneuve

    Hi Shannon, When you said “When you have your mind set on reaching a goal no matter what, you tend to neglect all the good things in life to get there”… It was like a deja vu…totally was there a few months ago as I was taking B-school and trying to launch my website. The difference for me is that I don’t have the joy bubbles you have when looking at your achievement…I’m happy you have this great outcome from such an intense experience! Good for you girl…it’s awesome that you can put it all into perspective… On my end…I want to continue to refine my website because now, when I look and read my products and services..it’s like I am looking at another woman’s business…weird no?? Great share..loved it!

    • Shannon McLaughlin

      Nathalie, I sooo know what you mean. Except I feel that way about my life a couple years ago. When my girlfriends and I get together, drink wine and talk about our past, I feel like I’m telling the story of a movie I watched or something – that’s how much I’ve changed since then. Maybe it’s the same with your website? You are a different person now than when you were when going through B-School. It’s an ever refining journey – I don’t think we’ll ever reach that end result where we feel our website is perfect, that would mean we’re standing still. Change is good 🙂

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