The Unexpected Side Effect of Achieving a Big Goal

Goals excite me.

Like, a lot.

I can’t think of a time in my life that I wasn’t working towards a goal. Some were small, like learning how to make a mean mushroom risotto or creating a product to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers. Others were considerably bigger and more time-consuming, like training for a half-marathon and writing a novel.

(Er, not simultaneously.)

Committing to a goal requires you to make space in your life to do the necessary work. For many people, finding this space can be the biggest hindrance to taking on a big goal, as it will likely involve sacrificing something enjoyable. Like sleep. Or screen time. (Probably both.)

A year ago, when I was seized by September energy, I set a very lofty goal for myself: to not only write a novel, but to complete the first draft in one year. Writing a novel had been on my bucket list for years. YEARS, Friends. Plot ideas bumped around in my head all the time, but never amounted to more than a scene or two. Then one day, a story idea came to me that I could actually see from beginning to end. Not only that, but it was a story that I was excited to write because it would be fun to tell.

And so began my year of waking at 4:30am to ensure I had at least one hour of uninterrupted, focused writing time.

I posted my goal on a large post-it note in front of my computer: 400 words per day.

And I showed up, every day. I persevered even when I would have rather stayed in bed. I kept smashing the keys even when the ideas weren’t flowing.

The fact I made my goal public on this blog certainly helped to keep me showing up. Nothing like announcing a big goal to the world (or, like, to the twelve people who follow your blog…) to ratchet up the urgency to hit your mark.

And then in late July, I finished my first draft. I was elated! Exhilarated! What an endorphin rush! Completing this goal was just as intensely satisfying as crossing the finish line of my first (and definitely last) half-marathon. Waves of euphoria washed over me for days afterwards.

All things one might expect after accomplishing a big goal, right?

It’s been a month since I smashed out the last sentence of my story, and I’ve noticed another, less-appealing and decidedly unexpected, side effect of achieving this bucket list ambition:

I FEEL COMPLETELY UNTETHERED.

Friends, it’s like my brain is short-circuiting all.the.time now.

Is this relatable?

My morning routine always began with a workout, followed by some personal journaling, and then I would dive into my story for an hour or so before getting ready for the day’s chaos adventures.

Since finishing my book, I’m still getting out of bed by 5am, but I haven’t been able to focus that time in the same way I did over the past year. Now, I come down to my beautiful mama space – passing the gym without so much as a glance at my now-dusty dumbbells – and I spend that precious, undistracted time…distracted. I add things to my amazon cart, I do little, unnecessary tasks in preparation for the school year, and often these days, I break the one sacred rule I set for my morning time: I allow myself to mindlessly scroll through social media.

Friends? Wtf.

I haul myself out of bed in the dark now to check my Instagram feed and buy laundry detergent? (Although I must say, I am loving this find.)

Where have my focus and diligence gone?

More importantly, how do I get them back?

It would seem that working towards my BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) had a grounding effect on me. It had become the anchor of my days. Without it, I floated away in a storm of unfocused thoughts and wasted minutes.

And Friends?

It is not ok to waste your life minutes.

It’s just not.

In a little over a week, the school year begins here in Ontario. I transferred to a different school, to a grade I have never taught. I am terrified super excited. My to do list is about to go berserk and with it, my mental state.

(Brace yourself, Husband.)

My morning time needs to be intentional and calm. The things I do with those early morning minutes need to nurture my soul and fortify me for whatever the day may hold.

Scrolling through Instagram does not nurture my soul.

“Adding dishwasher pucks to my Amazon cart bolsters my ability to take on the day with confidence,” said No One Ever.

Who knew that reaching my goal would leave me in this untethered state? It’s enough to make me rethink setting any more big goals.

Just kidding.

I like goals too much.

One thing is for certain though: I need a new goal.

And I need to stop saying goal. Four times in the last five sentences – yikes. The word is going to lose meaning. (That’s called semantic satiation, btw.)

So, my new, er, mission, is simply to decide on a big, new, er, target.

I’m open to suggestions, Friends.

PS – Thanks for being here.

4 thoughts on “The Unexpected Side Effect of Achieving a Big Goal

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