The Overtracking Trap

As I’m sure you all know by now – unless you’ve never been here before, in which case, hello! – I am all about the goals. I am always setting goals for myself: goals for the next 1001 days, goals for the next six months, goals for the day/week/hour. Reading goals, writing goals, exercise goals. You name it, I’ve got a goal for it. (I might be exaggerating. But only slightly).

Goals are great. They give you a direction, a compass, a guiding star. They give you something to strive towards. But constantly checking in to see where you’re at on your goals can be deadly, too. You fall into the overtracking trap: spending more time tracking your life than living it.

Because then suddenly you’re wearing blinders: you’re so focused on that far-distant point that you’re running full-tilt at, that you can’t see the opportunities right beside you, waving their hands frantically to get your attention then collapsing in exhaustion when you just run right on by. Who knows, maybe that now-comatose opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Or even the really pretty scenic route that leads to your goal anyways.

Sometimes, you have to take life as it comes at you. You know, carpe diem and all that shit.

I’m a planner. I get it from my mother. I always like to know what is going on, what’s coming down the line and how I’m going to deal with it. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like guessing. So I find carpe diem-ing difficult. Really difficult. Here are some tips on how to shed the goal blinders every once in a while.

  • Plan it out. I know. I KNOW. This is completely contradictory to the whole point of carpe diem. But planned spontaneity can really help us planners stop the hives before they start. Saying something like, “Okay, on Saturday, I’m not going to do anything related to my goals” can be a good way to give your brain the okay to look for other ways to spend your time.
  • Practice saying yes. Not to everything, of course. We all have to have our priorities, and we’re all really busy. We can’t say yes to everything. But practice saying yes to things that you normally wouldn’t say yes to. When someone suggests something and your gut reaction is a lazy, “Nope,” try saying yes instead. You might be surprised where that yes leads you. (If that no in your gut is because you feel unsafe or anything like that, listen to that no. Obviously.)
  •  Go for a while without checking in. Keep your goals in mind, keep working towards them, but try not officially checking in for a while. For example, instead of me checking and updating my 101 in 1001 list every day, I try to do it once every few weeks. It helps me to remember that there are other things in life besides checking items off of a list.

Do you ever fall into the overtracking trap? What do you do to bust out?

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Jessica can most often be found with her nose in a book, or writing her newest short story/screenplay/novel, but she also has a passion for travel, child-care & development, psychology, feminism (and other forms of equality), and making the world a better place in general. Email Me