When I started my bullet journal two years ago, I fell in love with it for its representation of how much I had achieved. This was (thanks depression) a far more accurate representation than my mind provided. Over time I added in more ways of tracking this – including monthly goals and tasks. Things that would keep me moving forward on a larger scale whilst I focused on daily and weekly tasks.
Well, for the past couple of months, I’ve barely made 50% of my monthly goals. If I even got close to 50%. One month I managed two of my goals for that month – out of 11.
At the end of each month I sit down and review those monthly goals, whilst preparing my goals for the next month. And so, when I sat down to do that yesterday…I quickly felt like absolute garbage. This past month, after the epic failure of the previous month, I had set fewer goals. This seemed sensible – pull back, focus on a few things, get those done.
I made just over 50% of my tasks this month. Some of the ones I missed are ones I’ve really, really needed to do for a long time. Things that will impact me professionally if I don’t sit the hell down and do them at some point. And I didn’t.
Why did I fail this hard?
In the past, I’ve had months where I’ve not done so well with my monthly goals. Those were often because I had massively over-reached with my goals – I had set the goal of completing an entire massive project. Or I’d failed to look at the calendar whilst doing it and realise that, actually, I don’t have enough time in a given month to complete them.
This month in particular, I had a failure of transference. I set these goals which were not too large – and then I completely failed to take them into account when setting up my weekly spreads in my journal. I just didn’t add that I needed to do something. So I forgot about it, or at least it drifted a little further back in my mind.
I also didn’t look at the month ahead before setting my goals for this month. I failed to consider that I had a bunch of big projects coming to a close this and next month, that I was away one weekend, that I was only just back from being away at the start of the month. That meant I didn’t give myself the space for the things this month already contained.
There is of course also the caveat, the counterargument, that I didn’t fail. I got some of those goals done, including one – to hit 100 Twitter followers – that I’ve been trying to achieve for months. I did these despite all of the stuff going on.
Even still, I’ve started to think…is this the best idea? Should I keep going?
Are monthly goals actually worth the hassle?
Okay. Hold on.
So I had a couple of bad months. We all have bad months, busy months, months where things don’t quite go right. And importantly, my month was not black and white like that. It was a great month, where I spent a lot of it very happy, despite also being exhausted from still being a little bit unwell. Those projects I mentioned? I’m doing super well with them, even finished them in some cases.
Let’s ignore those months. Let’s turn back another few pages to April. In April? I set 16 goals. This was possibly a but much. But I made 10 of them. 10! And some of them weren’t huge. Some of the ones I didn’t do, also, were things I decided not to do. March? 10 goals set, 6 completed.
Yes, these figures are only just over half. But consider this: I might never have managed those goals if I hadn’t put them in front of me like that. If I hadn’t made them a thing of significance. That’s 16 things I wouldn’t have achieved otherwise in those two months alone. And some of those tasks? Also huge. Huge tasks that I managed regardless.
Is it a hassle, a source of stress, a drain on my emotional labour resources? Absolutely. But is it one that improves my situation? Hell yes.
What can I do about this?
Try, try, try, try again.
But more specifically: this month I want to really think about the goals I set. I always set a balance of personal goals and work goals, but often I rush them. Today I’m going to focus on what I truly need and want to achieve.
And more important, I’m also going to think about how to get there. I’m going to make it a task each Monday to review where I am with regards to my monthly goals, to make sure they don’t fall by the wayside like last month.
I’m going to take into account the fact that I’m on holiday for a week this month, and that’s going to reduce what I can achieve. That I have a MASSIVE project due to be finished (it may or may not be a novel), and that this will take precedent. I might even build that into my goals, so it’s all interwoven, and nothing gets missed.
And most importantly of all, if and when I fail to meet those goals, I’m going to do my best to be kind to myself. I’m going to give myself this pep talk all over, and start again.
If you enjoy listening to my thoughts about anxiety and depression, whilst giving myself very public pep talks, find more of them here!