Letters to Myself: Give Up on Your Goals

Dear Kristene,

You are a planner. You got that from your mom, your adopted mom, who would spend the better part of a year planning a summer vacation. Remember the stacks of folded clothes on the basement table, months before you actually left for your destination? Planning well is a handy skill to have, sure, but also a weight around your neck if you’re not careful.

Planning and goals have defined your life for more than two decades now. The ever-present white board detailing by week, month, year, lists upon lists of tasks to be completed and deadlines to do so. When you were healthy and energetic, it was the means by which you controlled and directed the fire inside you.

And it all started to crumble after Kelly died. More so after Dad died. It was like one of those earthquake disaster movies where the hero watches the road before them crack open and fall in on itself, stranding them amid the danger. You spent the better part of five years trying to rebuild that road, trying to summon the fire inside you, which was barely a flickering flame. You tried and you almost succeeded. Then, 2020 arrived and cleared your whiteboard with one infectious swipe.

So here you are. No lists. No grand plans. No energy to do more than stand and gaze upon the rubble. This isn’t the first time you’ve failed, in fact, you’ve always embraced failure as a challenge. But this time is different, isn’t it? This time it feels permanent and personal. This time you’re angry at yourself and frustrated that the part of you that always got back up and kept fighting has been KO’d. You’re fragile; a single word could break you. Without your precious goals, who even are you?

Painful but true, yes?

Okay, kiddo, let’s get real. You didn’t start writing stories all those many decades ago because you wanted to be a published, professional author. You wrote because you loved it, because it was fun, because there was magic in stories and you wanted to learn and master that magic.

Guess what? There’s still magic. Lots. You haven’t even scratched the surface. 

What if—hear me out now—what if you just wrote for fun, for you, with no thought of what the writing should be or where you could sell it or who would read it or all the RULES of good writing? What if you simply wrote to make yourself happy?

Because, my friend, that’s the real goal, to seize as much happiness as we can. Life is too short and unpredictable as hell. You’ve seen that with your own eyes. Remember how Mom said that when she retired she was going to golf? When she died, at the age of 57, her clubs remained, untouched, in the closet. Why did she wait? I’ll tell you why. Because she made a plan and plans must be followed! Think of all those summer vacations and Mom’s inevitable meltdown once you all returned home. Not because the vacation was over but because it did not align perfectly with her meticulous planning.

Plans and goals are great… and they are also traps.

You’re standing in front of that road that has cracked open and fallen in upon itself and all you can do is stare and grieve. Maybe it’s time to leave that road, no matter where you think it leads. Maybe it’s time to look for a new route. It may be a winding country path or an underground tunnel or perhaps a giant bird will land and you can hop on and fly out of here. Whatever you choose is fine as long as it makes you happy deep down in your bones.

That’s the goal, friend, the only goal worth pursuing, the only plan worth making: happiness.



This entry was posted in Grief and Mourning, Health and wellness, Life, Mental Health, On Scribbling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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