I didn't reach my goals and that's ok... I think.

Monday 25 July 2016

A little under 11 months ago I wrote a post having just returned from Edinburgh Fringe Festival outlining 5 goals I wanted to achieve before I returned to Edinburgh in 2016. 

My annual trip to Edinburgh does this to me. It fuels me. As much as I love to travel and see new places, as much as I love my home town, and where I am at now in life, Edinburgh during the fringe is the next level. It's career goals, friendship goals and confidence goals all rolled into one. And it's next level because it can not last. Edinburgh fringe is a month long festival and whether I'm there for 4 days or 4 weeks it's my happy place. I spend my time seeing shows and getting inspired. I spend time with friends, drinking and dancing and generally getting into some pretty deep conversations about life and where we want to be. I spend time checking in and refocusing, and every year the feelings and the things I want change, but the fringe remains.

So last year I came back realising that having spent a year settling into my "real job" and career it was time to start looking outside of my 9-5. I had just started a new relationship with the young man, and my life was moving forward, but there were things I felt were holding me back.

The 5 goals I set myself were:

1. Write something new that isn't a blog post (ie. a show)
2. Get back on stage in some capacity
3. Be earning money from freelance work every month
4. Have started a savings account and paid off my credit card
5. Learn to drive

These five goals were a mix of things to get my life, career and creativity on track. They were things that 11 months ago I knew I had to do, or I knew I truly wanted. 

11 months ago.

11 months ago, meaning next month I return to Edinburgh Fringe and meet my deadline for reaching those 5 goals. But with every month that has passed since I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and published those goals, my motivation and energy for achieving each of those goals has dwindled, and as I sit here evaluating, I have no real choice but to say, overall, I failed.

That is failed in the strictest sense of the word. For each and every one of my goals I took a step forward, but some of those steps were bigger than others, and some of those achievements came in places I didn't expect, and some of the results from those steps were even more unexpected.

If you want the breakdown here it is:

1. Write something new that isn't a blog post (ie. a show) - Done but not as I expected...

When I set myself this goal it tied in heavily with my second goal of getting back on stage. I imagined myself writing a new solo show. I'd had a few ideas i'd been saving for a rainy day, for when my 'real job' had settled in and for when inspiration struck. The real job had definitely settled in, but I knew the inspiration wouldn't come unless I pushed myself, and so I began thinking properly about what I wanted to write. I made a decision on a concept and I pitched that concept and I won some money to get that conspet off the ground. I started working on that concept, and then... I stopped. Life got in the way again and I had no deadline set, and my motivation and inspiration slipped, and so MY new show is yet to be written.

HOWEVER, I have wrote A new show. It wasn't a show I ever thought I'd write, and it isn't for me to perform, and it isn't like anything I've ever done before, but a commision came up and I took it. 

This was something I had never expected when I set myself this goal, and because of that, I don't really feel like I can really put a big tick next to it, because while in the literal sense of the words 'write something new' I've met all the requirements, the intention behind them hasn't been fulfilled.

2. Get back on stage in some capacity - Put my best foot forward but never made it out of the wings

So as I said above, I never got a new show off the ground, and I never made it back on stage. I did perform again, briefly as part of a pitching event, and I have exercised those performance muscles, gently through freelance work, but I simply can't claim to have achieved this goal, literally or otherwise.

3. Be earning money from freelance work every month - Basically, yes

Right, of all the goals in this list, this has been the one I have been most successful at. If I really look at the dates and break it down, it might not work out that I have received a pay check every single month from my freelance work, but I have a. earnt more in the past 12 months than I have ever before from freelance work and b. taken on a wider varitey of freelance work than I ever have before. So this goal I'm going to say I achieved.

4. Have started a savings account and paid off my credit card - Erm, no

The last 2 goals on this list are the 2 I am beating myself up about the most. They are the adult goals, the get my shit together goals, and they are the ones that on a day to day basis play on my mind the most. 

I don't have a savings account and my credit card bill has fluctuated up and down so much so over the last 11 months I feel sea sick thinking about it. Money bothers me. I'm not reckless and my credit card bill is actually, very modest, but I hate that every time I seem to have got it worked out, an unexpected expense pops up. Money makes my anxiety flare up because sometimes it feels like I will never have it worked out. I don't put money away because I work on paying off my credit card. I get my credit card down, but then an unexpected bill comes up, and I have no savings in place to pay it, because I've been paying off my credit card, so then the unexpected bill gets paid by my credit card and it all starts all over again. 

HOWEVER, I am currently working on two freelance projects that when the money for them comes through, the credit card bill will no longer be an issue and I can pay it off in one fail swoop and start a savings account at the same time. It hasn't happened yet, but it is in the works, and that is how I get myself to sleep every night.

5. Learn to drive - I haven't had a lesson since May - and not because I passed.

People asking me how my driving lessons are going, makes me mad and defensive, so the fact that I'm asking myself about this right now, may mean the following paragraph comes out in a mixed up jumble of emotions. I do not enjoy driving. I know nobody does when they are learning, but I have found hour lessons mentally exhausting and so when life has thrown other things at me in the lat 11 months (job insecurity or unexpected bills) they have been the first thing to go from my list. I have a range of excuses. They're expensive, my schedule means making regular lessons difficult, and most recently I've sprained my wrist. Each of those excuses has an element of truth in it, but it is also true that I just don't like doing stuff I'm not very good at. And, it is even more true, that despite all of this, I should pull it together and just get on with them. 

I have GOT to learn to drive if I want my life and career to move on and this is something I have to deal with, whether I like it or not. So consider this telling myself off, and using the time it is going to take for my wrist to heal to find a new instructor and buy a driving theory book. Oh and replace my learners permit, which I've apparently lost (oh hello unexpected bill...).

It doesn't really make good reading does it? 

I failed, I set myself goals and I didn't reach them. But do you know what? That's ok.

It's ok because while I didn't reach my goals, I made an effort with every single one of them. 

And I don't mean that in a 'oh well I did my best' kind of way, because actually with some of them I didn't give it my best. It's ok that I only made an effort on every single one of them because I learnt something from every single one of them.

From setting myself the goal of writing something new I learnt that I'm not neccessairily interested in writing the same type of work that I used to write, and without setting myself this, I may never have said yes to the comission that I did end up working on. 

From setting myself the goal to get back on stage I realised that while I still love performing it is no longer something I am passionate about making a career out of. I've struggled with that realisation for these past 11 months but that is what it comes down to. Is getting back on stage still a goal of mine? Yes. Does it have to be in a professional capacity? No. I'm not sure exactly what I want my 'performing' to look like going forward but I know now that it doesn't have to look like what it used to.

Even from my most successful goal, of earning money from freelancing every month, what I learnt was more important than what I achieved. From aiming to work freelance every month (combined with my money issues) I said yes to every opportunity that came my way. And from saying yes to every opportunity that came my way, I learnt what I want to say no to in the future. Yes the money is great, and there will be times in the future where I take work simply for my bank balance, but one day I'd like to be freelance full time, but not freelancing full time on things I don't love. After this goal, I have a much clearer picture of what that looks like.

And from my grown up goals I have learnt that I have to persevere. That telling myself 'tough cookies' when I want to cancel my driving lesson, or buy a new dress is one of the best things I can do for mysel. While I may not always put this learning into practice, it is something I now have to actively ignore, rather than actively remember, and that's a pretty grown up step to have made in 11 months.

So I didn't reach my goals, and that's ok, I think... I mean I know there are ways I technically could have done better, and I do not want to cut myself too much slack, but I would rather be here having learnt something from goals I didn't achieve than have learnt nothing from ones that I did. 

In two weeks time when I head back to Edinburgh I will do what I always do, I will check in, refocus, evaluate and I will set myself another list of goals that come fringe 17 I hope to have achieved, but I will do so knowing that what you want changes, and that learning that, can be the biggest achievement of all.

What do you think? Am I being too easy on myself? Too cheesey? Too over dramatic? Or have you set yourself a goal you didn't achieve and experienced something similar? Let me know in the comments or over on twitter!

Hope you have a gorgeous week, and start your Monday motivated not defeated x


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