How to Set Goals and Meet Them

Over a year ago, I set a goal to start blogging more often. So I did what anyone would do when they set an important objective for themselves – I ignored it and felt guilty instead.

It’s easier to feel bad than do something you want because change is hard.

But I also did things to delude myself into believing I was still working toward blogging – like keeping a running list of topics I wanted to write about.

I made believe I’d get around to it. I’ll do it later. There’ll be a time when I feel like it. The truth is, I haven’t felt like publicly posting anything since the last blog.

1. Clarify The Goal

There are 9 drafts of blogs in my queue I have yet to publish. One is about Trump’s wall, which I can’t use anymore because it’s old news.

Right now, I have 17 memos on my phone filled with ideas, catchy titles, and specific details to include in potential posts. I have pieces of paper with direct quotes of what people have said so I don’t forget or make stuff up.

The issue isn’t writing the blog posts. I’ve spent every week for the past year writing copy for clients and never have problems finishing or finding the groove for writing. I love it.

The problem is I can’t settle on an appropriate theme for my blog. Right now, it’s a travel blog that isn’t all that interesting or applicable to daily life. I only write about traveling because then, I don’t have to be open and honest about living.

Putting yourself out there – whether we’re talking new friendships, getting started on that hobby or skill, getting healthy, or applying for your dream job – is scary. And when things are scary, we tend to avoid them.

I’m tired of my own nagging. So what should be my blog’s theme? City transplant? Asian-American? Small town living? Resort life? Small business owner? Nothing makes me go, ooooh that’s it!

2. Ask for Help or Advice

There is a blogger, Penelope Trunk, I really admire. She’s a career blogger who advises people with controversial advice like don’t go to grad school or you need to pick between your career or having kids.

I and thousands of other Gen Yers and Millenials love her because her advice is always spot-on. Even when the topic’s not applicable to me, what she says is right on the money.

19 months ago, I took her course on How to Write Great Blog Posts and emailed her directly. I told her all the things I want to write about and asked for help with my theme. This is what she said:

I think you could write all those topics if you write about being a military wife. Most military wives are lonely. And a lot of people are curious about military wives. Being a military wife is your differentiator to write about common topics. 

Does that help?

It didn’t.

Penelope’s advice disappointed me because it felt so far from being right.

I don’t feel like a military wife. We’re not with the Army anymore and to be honest, I never accepted it as a part of my identity even when we were military.

It has something to do with claiming a title I feel isn’t meant for me. I was never close with any military spouses and I feel outside the community, especially now that I’m not in it.

3. Work Through Your Crap

The Guy joined the Army, went through 2 combat and 1 non-combat deployments, and then we got out. On many levels, I feel I don’t have a right to talk about it anymore – much less dedicate my blog theme to it.

It was just another thing that we’d gone through, like a trip or going to college. And you don’t talk about those things too often because that would get annoying for everyone else.

A few nights ago, we visited our friends across the lake and had a few beers. Often when beers start pouring, The Guy starts talking about killing people.

This was especially true when he first came home from deployments. At the time, we had a large group of friends that would stay at our place every weekend.

Most of those nights, he was outside talking about military stuff. Sometimes it was surface talk and sometimes it got dark and gruesome. Our friends listened to him.

“Where’s Jean?” someone might ask.

“Oh, she’s inside having girl talk with [insert name here]”

One of our friends is currently deployed as a contractor in Iraq. She doesn’t do the same job as The Guy did, but close enough. The whole thing still hits close to home.

That night on the lake, he talked about it and I stayed. At one point The Guy said, “I’ve killed over [insert shockingly high number here] people.”

And that’s when I burst into uncontrollable tears and didn’t stop for a half hour as he continued to share. He was happy I was receptive. I was shocked and embarrassed at how emotional I felt. Everyone was very nice about it.

If you set an important goal for yourself but keep putting it off, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself why and pay attention to the answer.

It’s not that I haven’t heard his war details before. When interested friends ask if he’s killed anyone, I tell them yes, many.

But I didn’t allow myself to personally process this information or its aftermath, like a man lying on his deathbed trying to cheat the Grim Reaper. In the end, he gets you anyway.

4. Stop Making Excuses

I wanted The Guy to “get better” without feeling it myself.

I’m very guarded with people, so it makes getting perspective kind of hard. Sometimes I test the waters by talking about something but when I don’t get what I deem good feedback, I retreat.

When you don’t have someone to tell you what is very obvious, you can delude yourself into thinking everything is normal for a very long time.

I’ve effectively sidestepped PTSD for years now, attributing his symptoms to character defects instead.

That night, I slept terribly. I dreamt my brain was like a computer scanning through a document with some highlighted text. Each time the document stopped on a highlighted word, I had to acknowledge whether it was true or not.

The text was embedded with a code that caused an emotional reaction in my computer-brain I couldn’t avoid feeling. The scanner would stop on a word and I had to feel the emotional impact completely and acknowledge it was true.

Yes, this is correct…this is correct…this is correct.

That dream went on all night long, forcing me to face the truth over and over again. I can’t make this shit up.

Denial is a powerful force that keeps a cloak across your eyes even when all signs scream at you otherwise. I woke up knowing something had changed irreversibly.

5. Do the Behavior That Will Help You Reach Your Goal

So now I’m ready to write more openly about my life, even if the theme is unclear. It’s my way to live more authentically.

I’ll start by saying, I am married to a combat veteran of the United States Army.

Last night, I allowed myself to see for the first time I am the wife of a combat veteran who will be dealing with PTSD to varying degrees for the rest of our lives.

The reason I couldn’t post before is because so much of what I want to write about is related to PTSD. In hopes it would go away, I simply pretended it didn’t really exist.

I don’t want to feel judged for the ugliness of it and it scares me to be honest. But hiding from the truth isn’t helping me write.

Part of goal setting is respecting the process and allowing yourself to be “ready”. But if your goal is important to you, you need to make time for it even if it scares you. You need to ask yourself the hard questions because no one else can make you look at your problem.

My cousin who I grew up with recently heard I was writing. She said, “That’s great! Isn’t it what you always wanted to do?”

Why yes… yes, I guess it is. So how do you reach the goals you set for yourself? Well, the short answer is you just do it.

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