This may or may not be the last time I mention this book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams, but he has a chapter that I’m pretty sure he wrote just for me. He’s all like, Thriftygal,
…goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game.
Yeah, that does make sense, Scott. I wrote a bit about how I have a hard time being nice to myself. I love my resolutions chart with all my soul, but it does give me a very glaring account of my flaws. I always fail so miserably at “avoid time-wasters.” I wish I had never discovered how amazing I am at Freecell. I’m too good not to play it. It’s a real problem.
But overall, I’m a goal-orientated freakazoid. I so love my goals, my sub-goals, my crossing those suckers off when done and doing my victory lap. And, not to taint the whole humility image I’ve got going on here, but I really thought I had this part of life DOWN.
I started this blog because I nailed a goal that made me feel tingly. Now I look back only with fondness on Operation Get Rid of That Debt, Man. That final payment felt like shackles lifted, an elephant stepped off my chest and now it’s time to dance! Yes! My goals of getting out of debt and retiring early were — give me a second to polish my rose-colored glasses — easy and breezy and all part of the path. Also, rah rah rah, you can do it too!
But, after reading Scott’s advice, the jerk inside my head shouted “ah-ha!” at me. The only reason I nailed the financial goals was because I used a system that made sense to me. Why waste your resources on stuff? It wasn’t the goals that worked, it was the system.
Maybe it’s just semantics, but here’s what I’ve gathered so far. A system is a deliberate activity that you do regularly just because you know your life will be better if you make it a habit. You don’t have a specific end in mind; you just know that overall shit improves. A goal, meanwhile, is a very specific objective that you can very possibly fail miserably at.
I find most goals fall somewhere between those two extremes of utter failure (Free Cell) and easy success (retiring early). I’m not giving up my goals, my operations, my resolutions, my lists, but I will add Scott’s lexicon of using “systems” to my repertoire. Use a system to supplement your goal.
It’s probably just semantics. But I love words. Words matter. Framing matters.
Goal: Get out of debt
System: Don’t buy crap you don’t need
Goal: Retire early
System: Don’t buy crap you don’t need
Goal: What’s next?
System: Make it the journey.
By the law of averages, we are average at most things. We are below average at some things. We are above average at some things. Figure out the thing you like doing and that you’re good at and go do that.
Goal: Read a book a day for a year
Goal: Be a writer
You are what you do everyday. Fill your days with the things you love to do and you’ll love your life. At least this seems to be working for me.
Goal: Learn 25 recipes
Pbthhhh. Here’s the thing. I actually don’t really like to cook. I love to eat and I will happily do the dishes after, but if I’m alone, I’d prefer to not make the dishes at all and grab a banana. Or go out. I still give myself a solid C in the learning to cook like mom goal, but as that’s average, it’s not something to rah rah about it.
I’m still trying because I can’t bear the thought of putting down this dream.
Goal: See the world
Always be traveling. Always have something fun planned. Always have something to look forward to.
Check out my Carmen Sandiego link and shoot me an email if our paths cross. Or sign up for my email postings and I’ll let you know if I plan a meetup. I might post it to Facebook. I probably won’t remember to put it on Twitter.