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Goals and commitment

Last year, I had a goal of reading 52 books in the year and to land a paid standup comedy gig. And I fell short on both counts. I didn't achieve either of them.

But that doesn't mean I didn't do anything about them. I ended up reading 45 books in the year, which was twice the number that I had read for every year for the past ten years before that. I ended up performing standup comedy at several open mics and at two 'invite-only' performances albeit without pay, and I ended up writing several jokes, got hell of a lot better in my delivery and stage presence, which is way more than previous years where I had not even dreamed of going up on stage with the intention of making the audience laugh.

Nevertheless, I failed at the goals that I had set for myself at the start of the year.

There are two ways to approach the goals we set - one is to treat them as ambitious milestones and be comfortable with not getting all the way there (as it happened with me last year). The other way is to commit to doing whatever it takes to get there.

With the first approach, we always have the option to rationalize and decide whether we are happy with the level we have reached or if we want to push harder to move further ahead. Whereas, with the second approach, we only have the option to figure out possible ways to get something done and then to go do it.

While it is possible to approach all of our goals in the first way, it is simply not practical to approach all of our goals in the second way. Because the only way we can go further in the second way is by cutting down on something else to make time and effort for the goal we are committed to achieving.

If I had committed to both my reading and standup comedy goals, I would have had to take away time from somewhere else (which is not possible) and it would have been meaningless to commit to both of them as I wouldn't have been able to see either through. Whereas, if I had committed to my standup comedy goals, then I might have decided to read fewer books and dedicate that time and effort to furthering my progress on this.

And that is the approach I have decided to take this year. To commit to some of my goals and to treat the rest of the goals as a stretch. If push comes to shove, I will still repurpose all my time and effort to achieve the things that I have committed to.

And this isn't always the right way, but it is the best way for me. If you are setting yourself goals only with the intention of at least compelling yourself a little better than before, then the first approach works well for you.

But, if you have a longer term picture of why you want to get something done and know that you have to achieve a certain goal in order to make that picture a reality, then you have got to commit to these goals. 

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