Shifting Goals – Being Flaky or Realistic?

The other day Ryan mentioned that it was high time that I take down my framed New Year’s Resolutions, which sit on my desk next to an unfinished Stitch Lego sculpture and too much fucking washi tape.

“Why would I do that?” I asked, bracing myself for what I knew was coming next.

“Well, you’re not applying to grad school, you are nowhere close to seeing your family 5 times this year,  maybe you’ll do a chin up… If I were you, that’s just really depressing. I wouldn’t want to look at that everyday and be reminded of my failures.”

Maybe I’m performing some intense mental gymnastics, or I’m just used to the nature of New Year’s resolutions, but I definitely don’t feel depressed that I am not on track to complete my goals.

In my mind, these specific benchmarks I created all have a greater motivation behind them, so it doesn’t matter if I don’t do exactly what I said I would, as long as I make progress in that area of my life.

For example, do a chin up – it would be cool to do a chin up, but what’s really important is for me to continue my strength training, which I’ve done. For applying to grad school, the deeper goal is to further my career and somehow bring more programming into my job. That is happening slowly. (Also I want to note that I have been frugal this year, and I was writing consistently in my journal up to a point, so hey, some things are working.)

So, yeah I’m not sad when I look at my list. This is shallow, but what I’m more worried about is what my friends think of my changes of heart. For example, several years ago I said that I wanted to be a marriage and family therapist. I told everyone. I looked into it, researched MFT programs and signed up to work with the Friendship Line (elderly suicide hotline). After putting about 6 months of work into that path, I scrapped it. The reality of a therapist’s hustle and the fun of dealing with health insurance red tape was not what I wanted for my life. While I had done my due diligence in investigating this career path, I still felt embarrassed when I had to tell others that I had changed my mind. Right now I’m doing a similar “pivot” and I worry about not appearing serious enough about my goals.

On a slightly related note, lately quite a few people in my life have had job changes (mostly voluntary) and so I’ve been a patient ear in too many soul searching “what should I do with my life?!!” conversations. I usually enjoy these chats because it’s fun to hear other people’s dreams.

This time around, I’ve found myself getting angry at any signs of flakiness and lack of follow-through in my friends. I know that this is partly me projecting my feelings of inadequacy about changing my own damn mind, but on the other hand, some of my friends are actually really flaky. They come up with grand ideas and never follow through, or give up quickly.

Or even worse, they are chronic complainers. It’s really draining to regularly listen to someone whine about their recurring problems, discuss solutions, and then have them shoot down whatever you suggest, or see them do absolutely nothing to improve their situation. Next time we meet up, we’re having the same conversation. Rinse, repeat. We’re too old for this shit!

I’m still trying to figure out how to act in order to be supportive, but also to protect myself emotionally. The best I can come up with is to listen, and try to avoid giving advice. When the conversation is over, I take a big breath and “let it go.” It’s a bit of structured detachment, and it’s hard. It goes against my natural tendencies to get overly involved in my friends’ lives. But I gotta let it go, in order focus on my own goals.

Anyone have tips for dealing with friends stuck in a rut, or acting consistently negative?