Kill The “I Got Nothing Done!” Guilt Trip

Don’t Let Goal-Setting Scar Your Soul

Rich Fink
Rich Fink
Feb 13, 2019 · 4 min read
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Background Image Pixabay, Illustration Rich Fink

If you’ve read any book on achieving success in life, you know that goal setting is part of the deal. But it’s kind of like wine. A glass with dinner may be good for your heart, but two or three bottles in a sitting is a real problem.

“Every New Year’s Eve, I make a list of 100 goals for the coming year, without fail.”
— Mark Victor Hansen

I attended a Mark Victor Hansen seminar where he said that everyone needs to create a list of 100 goals on New Year’s Eve for the coming year. Well, I was inspired. So, on the next New Year’s Eve, I endeavored to create my own. I couldn’t think of 100 things that I wanted to do. I ran out of steam at 76, said the hell with it and cracked open a beer.

Out of those 76 goals (some of them small and silly) I got about 20 done. Did I feel wonderful? Hell no. That was only 26%…a failing grade by any measure. I continued to make goal lists every year since then. And I graded my performance on each and every one. Never made it past 48%. Never happy about that. Welcome to Neverland.

All Aboard The Goal Setting Failure Express

Ask twelve people if they set goals. If you find one, you’re lucky. It’s not that these people they don’t want to succeed, they just don’t want any part of the guilt trip. Here’s a typical quote for you…

“I used to set goals, but I never get anything done and it just depresses the hell out of me.”
— Anonymous

Never get anything done? That’s nonsense. Most of us get a lot done, we just don’t remember it. We treat our yearly goal list like a time capsule. It stays hidden in a drawer until we pull it out on New Year’s Eve. Surprise! Nothing’s checked off. Loser. Break out the booze.

That’s It. No More Goals For Me.

Okay, you could do that but the “nothing done” feeling is still hanging over you. It invites all of that negative self-talk. Self doubt bubbles away in a stew of guilt for no good reason at all. That’s a meal you don’t want to be served.

The Answer is the Life Ledger

The Life Ledger is a simple tool that shines a light on reality, and moves you in a positive direction. And guess what? It’s free.

Turn on your computer and start with a fresh text document. Decide what is important to you. Do not make it too complicated. Put the day’s date on top and pick your top categories. It’s the stuff that is really important to you. Maybe it will match up with your goal list or not. That’s for you to decide. Write those categories in bold so you can find them easily.

Here are my categories: Health, Weight, Exercise, Supplements, Meds, Writing, Drawing/Cartooning, Medium plus notes on the fun stuff (going out to dinner with friends, acting in plays, how trivia night went, etc.).

Here’s How To Work It

Create one Life Ledger document for each year. This makes it simple to compare how things changed. Once you have one date setup you’re in business. Just copy and paste that to the next day, update the date and wipe out the contents next to each category. Fill in the details as the day goes on. If you don’t do anything in one category delete it for that day.

The Power Is In The Search

For this little system to work you have to have daily data. Don’t trust yourself to remember what you did three days ago. You won’t. Any kind of a writing program (LibreOffice is free and works great) can do searches any time you want.

Let say it’s the end of July and you’re back from vacation. You’ve put on a pound or two (or maybe eight) and your wife didn’t gain an ounce.

So, you feel lousy and mentally beat yourself up a bit. If only you had exercised more, right? Instead of pouting, you open up the Life Ledger document and do a quick “find all” search for Exercise.

The computer finds that word 97 times. And now you don’t feel so bad. Maybe you decide to do a few pushups or something and bring that Exercise number up to 98.

Memory Device And Motivation Couch All Rolled Into One

The Life Ledger isn’t a replacement for a goal list. I still create one every year. And yes, I have too many goals, and not everything gets checked off the list. I’m fine with that because I know I get a lot done.

Being able to see how I’m doing on the important things is great. I have all the evidence I need and it pushes me along. So, don’t give up on having goals. Instead combine them with a Life Ledger. You’ll get more done in spite of yourself.

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Rich Fink

Written by

Rich Fink

Writer, cartoonist, poet, raconteur. Everybody needs a laugh. www.pieintheeye.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Rich Fink

Written by

Rich Fink

Writer, cartoonist, poet, raconteur. Everybody needs a laugh. www.pieintheeye.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

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