Monday, January 11, 2010

You Are Forgiven. Go in Peace.

Lately, I've been thinking about forgiveness. Not in the inter-personal sense, though that's certainly a good thing, but in the intra-personal sense.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I'm one of those goal-setting people. I consider myself a goal-setter most of the time but a goal-achiever only part of the time. There are a couple reasons for this: maybe I structured the original goal badly; maybe the situation changed in a manner I couldn't anticipate but still prevented my reaching my goal; maybe I just fell off the wagon (especially true if the goal in question involves exercise). But, one thing that I know has helped turn some of my potential goal-failures into goal-successes is forgiveness.

I think forgiveness is an element frequently ignored by all those goal-setting seminars (and yes, I do admit to having sat through one or two of those, but I promise you it was not voluntary). After all, to err is human, right? (And, by the by, if anyone reading this blog isn't human, this would be the time to share that info with the rest of us. We don't judge, and it would be flipping cool.) People setting goals can err in various ways, and I don't really need to go into them right now. I think we're all familiar with the ways things can not go as hoped. But, I can safely say that at some point, everyone sets a goal and comes to a time when it doesn't work out. That doesn't mean that all is lost, though.

If you're like me, you set goals and they come with neat little mini-goals along the way to help out. Like, if your goal is to get in shape, you might try running for 20 minutes a day or, if your goal is to learn to speak Portuguese, you probably study for 15 minutes a day. Now, for most people, this is where they trip up and everything goals off the rails. You either miss a day on the mini-goal schedule and fall behind, or you slip up and break your rules (maybe find yourself back on Twitter when you swore you were cutting back on that, or you cheat on your diet a little bit). Anyway, people slip up and allow it to detail everything. They write the goal off as a bad job and give up. Don't. Do. This.

Forgiveness time! You screwed up. It's okay. We all do it. (Again, I'm working with the idea that most people reading this are fallible mortals. If you aren't, it's okay, run with me anyway.) You messed up. Admit it to yourself and move on. That's right, move on. Worse things have happened, and I think you're going to be fine. Don't let one little hiccup derail your whole plan.

Now, if you really want to do something good, you can analyze the situation. Find out what triggered the problem and find out how you can avoid a similar situation. Find the flaw in the goal and amend the goal so that it is no longer flawed. (Yes, goals can be amended. That is allowed. These things aren't carved in stone or cross-stitched on pillows. And if they are, that's a bit weird, unless either of those things was your goal, which would be interesting. Goal: Must learn to carve stone. Project one: Carve my goal list in alabaster. But, I digress.) Figure out the problems and fix them.

Depending on the goal, you might have to do a little catch-up, but even that isn't a problem. Just don't let the cure be more of a hindrance than the problem. The key is to do it in a way that doesn't hinder your goal. If your goal was to get in shape, and you have a ton of chocolate cake and ice cream, I would not advice hopping on the treadmill and running for two hours, especially if you aren't a regular runner. The next day, your legs will be saying, "Oh, you want to get up? To hell with you. You're going to be lying in bed in agony all day. Hehehe." Adjust rationally. Spread your amendment out over the course of a few days. That way it might actually be good for something.

Forgive yourself. Make amends. Try hard not to do it again. Relax. Breathe easy. It's all good.

How have your goals been progressing, since the New Year or otherwise? How do you deal with slipping in your goals?


  1. Funny post. Thanks for a smile this morning. I've already had to forgive myself once or twice this year and it's onlty the 11th. Oh well. This is great advice.

  2. I'm glad I'm forgiven because I'm forever screwing up, lol. True.

  3. I usually try not to set goals in stone. It just spells trouble for me. But when I do slip, I tend to forgive myself fairly easily. This has come through much practice, hah. I like to be gentle with myself. Life is too hard not to. Still, I get trapped often.

  4. Susan -- I'm glad the post made you smile.

    T.Anne -- Screwing up is good. It's how we learn.

    Glamis -- I like how you put it, gentle with oneself. You're right that we should handle ourselves with care, since life will take care of the manhandling for us.

  5. Well as you know I set some crazy goals for myself this past New Year's and I've already fallen off the wagon. But then I tried to fix them, 1) by writing for 11 hours one day to retain my 2pages per day quota 2) not eating breakfast trying to lose weight (ha, big mistake) 3) doing an outline for one of my ms. and I totally re-wrote the whole book.

    So, as I write in panster fashion, I think now I'll have to take life and my goals in the same style -- I'll just fly by the seat of my pants and see what happens. I might not keep my promises to myself but I might be a whole lot happier without the stress of trying to live up to some crazy expectations.

  6. Piedmont -- The pantser life improvement technique isn't a bad one. It's improving your life on a case by case, decision by decision basis. It can work very well. Though, I feel compelled to add that skipping breakfast doesn't help, because it causes you to over-eat later. When you're body is hungry, let it eat, but make good choices for what you eat.

  7. The older I get, it's like my goals are following me and not set at the start of the year. I view January 1st, as a nice fresh year, but everything I do on a daily basis, requires energy and of course, there are days that are GREAT, ans others that aren't.
    I think the only goal I force myself to focus on, is to show LOVE. That is something that most humans don't always remember to do. Great post.

  8. GW -- Thanks. You have a point -- some days are better than others for certain goals. I just don't think we should let the bad days stop us from making the most of the good ones.Showing love is a good everyday goal, because it is something we cannot do enough.