For many of us, setting goals and making plans is the foundation of hope. And hope is the thing with feathers, yes? Hope is made up of our dreams…and a dream deferred is…well…sometimes necessary (given our current circumstances) and sometimes a way of subconsciously sabotaging our hope.
As we begin this new year, full of intentions and plans and goals (or not, as it suits), we know there will be times when we stray or fail to meet our own demands. This is why resolutions so often end up being left behind by the end of January. One slip-up, and we struggle to accept that we can do it. We work out for 3 days, and then don’t, and then it’s “well, I guess I’m still a failure…I’ll try again next year.”
Accept and Reflect on Slip-ups
But what if we handled it a different way? What if we simply became more mindful of our behavior and used our “slip ups” as a way to dig deeper and build consciousness?
For example, “I didn’t work out today…why not? What got in the way? Can I fix it so it doesn’t happen again? How? Do I avoid working out because I need a more enjoyable exercise activity? Is this goal even working for me?”
Refocus and Reassert
Simply being aware of what happened and why may help us reassert ourselves or find a new and better way of doing it tomorrow.
Veering away from our goals or plans or intentions isn’t failure. Sometimes it’s just because we are letting ourselves become too busy and we need to refocus our priorities and simplify how we are using our time. Busyness is not a necessary state of being, though it sure seems to have become the standard way of life for many of us. Planning our days ahead (the night before or on the weekend), can help us stay true to our desires.
If exercise is the goal, we must put it on the schedule and stay true to the time we have devoted. Pack our gym bag and set it by the door. Put our equipment out for easy access in the morning.
Likewise, if self-care is important…schedule it. If time with a loved one is important…schedule it.
Eventually, other things will fall away. They will become less and less important. Whatever isn’t scheduled is likely to be left out, and we have to be okay with that.
We don’t have enough time to do EVERYTHING, so, we have to prioritize. And what we prioritize says everything about who we are. That sounds heavy, I know. And I’ve had to face hard truths about myself when looking at how I schedule and use my time. When I started color-code time-blocking, I found that the majority of my time was spent working and chasing my son around from place to place…two things that drained me. The whole calendar was green and yellow. It was visually apparent that all I was doing was work, housework, and being a taxi-driver. And I didn’t like any of it.
This year, I was mindful about how I balanced the colors. I started with the “have-to’s” moved on to the “need-to’s” and ended with the “want-to’s.” And in order to fit it all, I had to move things around, give, take, make compromises, and accept what was possible. My schedule looks like a rainbow now, which, to me, says I am using my time in a more balanced way. There is also a healthy dose of unscheduled time, where I WILL NOT DO HOUSEWORK! (That’s my downfall, right there.)
I even time-blocked my work day, to make sure I’m using my time as well as I can there, not over-doing it, and only committing to what can actually be done in the time that I am there. The most successful business people will attest that prioritizing and committing to only a handful of tasks (three seems to be a standard number) for a work day is sane. That might sound impossible, especially if you have one of those jobs where the task list seems endless. I do. And I have simply started to only committing to three. And guess what? When I can manage it, I get things done faster. And I get more accomplished. Because, rather than spreading myself thin and starting 20 tasks, I focus and get three things done. I have to close and lock my door a few times a day. And I take lunch to myself now…no interruptions on that time.
I’m not always good at this. My most common state is one of stress and anxiety and overwhelm. But my “natural” state, they way I’m supposed to be, is rested, resilient, and receptive. I can feel that. And I’m always working toward it. But, it means a lot of mindfulness, reflection, and saying no (to myself, others, and the universe). I have to continually go back to my priorities and ask…does this get me there? does this help me achieve what I’m trying to achieve? And if it doesn’t…I have to let it go.
What does all this have to do with sex? (Because, I always have a way of working it back to that, now don’t I?)
Well, I’m not a perfect submissive (and I would challenge anyone who things they are to look a little deeper and reflect a little harder…all of us can improve at everything we do), but it’s something I’m passionate about improving at. It’s an act…not a state of being for me. Because even though a person can be naturally submissive in personality (I’m not…I only choose to submit to one man), it does not mean that they submit well, or even wish to.
I can admit that I am not a great (maybe not even a good) submissive (noun). I am not a submissive (adjective) personality, either. But I can choose to submit (verb) and make the act of submission a part of my life. It’s a working goal.
In this journey of learning to submit in the best way that I can, mindfulness is key.
Be Honest About What Is Possible
It’s important for me to remain flexible and forgive myself for not being “perfect” (or even close to what I imagine I should be). In fact, it’s important to catch myself any time I start to compare myself to someone else’s version of “submissive.”
Expectation is the root of all heartache. – W. Shakespeare
I have to remind myself not to expect myself to be or become something. I have to first accept who and what I am and then build the best version of that.
This has always been one of my favorite comics about education…and it applies here, as well. If I am a fish, I cannot be like the elephant or the monkey. I can only become the best version of myself. And that is a fish.
But, many of us create goals based on others’ expectations or a vision based on someone else’s outcome or experience. Instead, we need to set our sights on only ourselves and our own vision of what our best might look like. We also have to be ready for that vision to change as we learn more about what our own possibilities are. What my “fit and healthy” looks like may not look anything like the media’s version (in fact, I’m quite positive it does not). In fact, I’m pretty sure my “fit and healthy” doesn’t even match up with my doctor’s version.
Same goes for submission. I have to build from the clay that I have. And that means taking stock of the materials I have to work with.
(Side note, but related: Many years ago, my Husband decided to change careers mid-stream. He made a list of all the things He had ever wanted to be…nothing was too crazy. Then He began crossing off the things that were simply not realistic. He was too old to become an astronaut. It would take far too long and cost more than we had for Him to become a doctor. And by the time He’d crossed off the things that made no sense for His life, He was left with one particular career that looked promising. It fit His personality. It was attainable. And it would afford Him the benefits He was seeking.)
Sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves about what we are truly capable of. I don’t think this is setting the bar low or just “accepting our lot in life.” I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t chase your dreams or cut down the notion that “anything is possible” (though, I am an insufferable realist in regards to this). What I’m saying is that each of us has our own “possible.” Is it possible for me to become president? Sure. Is it probable that I will? No. Do I want to invest the energy it would take to become one? No. However, if that is what I wanted with all my heart and I knew it was my path, then whatever I had to do to get there would be in line with my goal. And whatever I had to let go of to make that happen would also have to be acceptable.
That is the thing with goals that sometimes we forget to deal with…and it’s the thing that causes us the most difficulty in sticking to them. Setting goals necessarily means letting go of other things. To attain goals, we have to invest time. Since time is not infinite, we have to let go of other activities…even some we may like or that seem important…to make time to chase our dreams.
It’s all about choices, and making the right ones…for us.
Be Honest about What is Getting in the Way
Setting a goal (to be a better submissive to my Husband) also means being honest about weaknesses and potential roadblocks. I’ll be writing about this in upcoming posts, but suffice it to say, I don’t have all of the best character traits when it comes to “being a good submissive.” That doesn’t mean I can’t be one…it just means my definition of a “good submissive” has to be made with those in mind and the path to my goal has to include steps to overcome my weakest and most destructive personality traits. I’m not talking about being opinionated or being strong-willed or even stubborn…because those can be good qualities (in a submissive and in life). No…I’m talking selfishness, being a control freak, giving in to overwhelm, focusing too much energy on things that don’t matter. I’m talking qualities that actually get in the way in every aspect of my life.
Have a Clear Vision and Create Actionable Steps to Achieve It
Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. I can want to climb Mt. Everest, but simply wanting it isn’t going to get me there. I have to break it down to smaller goals and then steps to reach each of those goals. It’s called Backward Design. You figure out what you want the end goal to be, then you design backward from there. This is why having a clear vision is so important. Knowing what you want your life to look like “when you get there” is essential in planning HOW you will get there. So, instead of saying, I want to get fit or lose weight, we need to think in terms of “I am running marathons” or “I naturally and habitually think of ways to please my Husband.” These are ways of being that are measurable and actionable. That means they are achievable. “I will get fit” is too loose and means nothing. There is no way to measure this specifically…because what does “fit” mean? But if was reword it to say, “I will be 10 pounds lighter by the end of March,” that is actionable… measurable… achievable.
Not all goals have to be this way, of course. Sometimes a goal can simply be, “I will feel stronger” or “My relationship with my Husband will be closer.” These are still good goals because they can still be broken down in to actions and can still be measured through reflection. If you honestly FEEL stronger by the end of your actions, you have met your goal. If your relationship does FEEL closer…then it’s a success!
That’s why goals are so personal, and why they need to be created with your soul and your own personal strengths and weaknesses in mind. We have to make sure the goals we select are really OUR goals, too. We can’t set goals just because others think we should or want us to. If your doctor wants you to lose weight, but you haven’t committed to it yet, you won’t meet the goal. You’ll sabotage it, fail, and prove to yourself (and your doctor) that “it can’t be done.” And you’ll likely resent both the doctor and yourself.
Mindfulness (perspective and outlook) are key with goals. You have to truly WANT it…or it isn’t worth it…and it won’t stick. So if you keep setting a goal, and “failing,” really ask yourself if it’s something you even want. And if it is, be honest about why you aren’t getting there. Is it even possible for you? And if it isn’t, why isn’t that okay? (Go back and take a look at that cartoon again…)
I will never be a size 6. It’s not because I couldn’t do it. I just don’t want to do the things I’d have to to get there. I’d be miserable. Same goes for being a slave. I could do it…but I don’t want to. So, trying to be the “best slave ever” would be a terrible goal for me, even if my Husband wanted it (which He doesn’t, btw).
We also have to pick goals based on a realistic vision for ourselves. I will not be a runner (arthritic knees). But, I can and will be great at yoga. I will not be a freelance writer this year. But, I can make it my retirement plan and work toward it a little each year. I will not get rich off of my blog this year. But, I can work to break even.
So, it starts with a realistic vision…one that really comes from your heart…broken down into goals, then smaller actionable steps.
And then…we expect slip-ups, accept and reflect, refocus and reassert.
It’s called growth.
It’s messy…and the path is crooked and full of forks and crossroads. And sometimes our vision changes, and our goals have to change with it.
And all of it is okay.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals:
I managed to hit the focus of several memes this week, along with my Mindfulness Monday feature focus.
The Erotic Journal Challenge: Mindfulness (Jan. 1 – Jan. 31)
Sex Bloggers for Mental Health: Priorities for the new year. Not resolutions. (Jan. 5 – Jan. 5 – Jan. 12)
Wicked Wednesday: Motivation (Jan. 4 – Jan. 9)
Click the badges below for more info on each, other writer’s posts on the topic, and to link-up your own posts.