Goal setting and monthly challenges – Thanks, but no thanks.

For two months now, I’ve been setting monthly goals for myself to try and be more productive. After watching many Youtube videos and reading articles about the importance of goal setting and how much more likely you are to achieve a certain goal if you write it down, I thought to myself, well, maybe I should try it out.

My monthly goals were focused primarly on books and writing and then I also added a lifestyle section. Last month for example I challenged myself to a two weeks break from eating sugar and I actually managed to do it! This month I focused on my writing and so I challenged myself to write for 30 minutes each day.

When it comes to books and reading, I set a rough goal of how many books I wanted to read in a certain month and I also added some titles. These were mostly the books that were sent to me for review. At first I felt really motivated and whenever I achieved a goal, I ticked it off with a most satisfying feeling.

But then the initial euphoria started to wear off and I became increasingly frustrated and anxious. I kept looking at my to do list and if I took an afternoon off from reading and blogging and reviewing, I felt terribly guilty and I couldn’t relax at all. The list was always in the back of my mind but instead of feeling motivated to tick the goals off, I felt pressured into doing everything that needed to be done.

Even reading became a daily task, a must do, and the fun was sucked out of it. Finally I said to myself, enough, and I stopped looking at the list altogether. What I found works better for me, isn’t setting monthly or weekly goals, but instead writing down the things I’d already accomplished. For example, I keep a list of books I’ve read and reviewed and by adding new titles to it, I feel more productive and therefore have more motivation to continue with the work.

I’m not saying goal setting doesn’t work, it works for some people, but I’ve found that it has the opposite effect on me and only adds to my already high levels of anxiety. My memory serves me just fine and so instead of having an endless to do list, I keep it in my mind because I already know what I have to do. But by writing down the tasks AFTER I finish them, adds to me feeling more accomplished and productive.

I still have a monthly spread in my bullet journal (if you can call it that) to see what things I have to do for uni each week, but instead of writing down my goals, I just try doing the best that I can each day and I don’t feel bad about taking an afternoon or even a whole day off if that’s what I need. Productivity is great but burning out in the hopes of achieving it is not something I would strive towards.