Dear ones, this will be our last post of 2018. After that, we’ll be taking our usual two-week winter vacation. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in 2019.
And let’s be real here—we’ll be at our worst. Doughy from cheese plates; mildly queasy from eggnog; loaded down with gifts of questionable usefulness; viciously introverted from mandatory holiday interactions with people. December is a month during which I often feel overfed and slothful, yet also exhausted and kinda seasonally depressed. But January is better. January is for goals! My Catholic guilt over nonstop holiday partying conspires with hardcore New Years Mood to shove me off the couch and make me strike at my goals like a holly jolly king cobra!
My goals for this year are modest. And that’s how I like it. I think we spend way too much time talking about the benefits of huge goals, and far too little on tiny goals.
Big, hairy, audacious goals
People love to talk about “big, hairy, audacious goals,” a term I find unnecessarily gross. Why does it have to be hairy? There’s no usage of the word “hairy” that isn’t vile. Wtf. Anyway…
Setting a daring, almost-too-big goal can work. That’s how JFK sent strong, handsome, square-jawed American men to the moon!
One massive, awe-inspiring goal is a great tool for businesses and people who run businesses because it does two things: focus and invigorate. The company I work for has over one hundred thousand global employees. That’s a lot of fucking manpower! If our CEO said “build me a life-size gingerbread house by close of business today,” he’d be all set for Hansel and Gretel by 5 p.m. Central Standard.
But as we’ve noted before: businesses are not people. And the solutions that work great for businesses don’t necessarily translate to personal solutions. We don’t have a business’s discretion to drop obligations in order to make sudden pivots. Businesses have way more resources and specialized support functions than a private individual will ever have. Businesses don’t have social and biological needs, goddamn it! I need to watch The Fugitive and sleep for eight hours, so fuck off with your moon shot. It ain’t happening tonight, Jack!
Ted Talky people rave about the practice of setting huge, ambitious goals like it’s some kind of secret, magical key to unprecedented success.
To me, this stinks of bullshit.
The people who crow about the importance of big goals seem to disproportionately be self-promotional motivational speakers, self-promotional authors, and self-promotional Silicon Valleyish entrepreneurs. Notice a theme?
The advice may or may not actually work for them; I have no idea. But I do know that it’s much easier to package and sell than the kind of goal-setting that actually works.
Smol, simple, baby goals
The secret to achievement, like the Book of Love, is long and boring. It doesn’t package up neatly into a snazzy new product, program, or package that will Finally Help You Unleash Your True Potential and Live Your Best Life.
You are one person. Today, you need to sleep, eat, drive to work, take a shower, talk to people, go to the grocery store, pay bills, and yell at the dog for chowing down on used tampons. (No? Just me? Okay, if you say so…)
At the end of the day, you likely only have a couple of hours of discretionary time to dedicate to the pursuit of personal goals—and there are many, many everyday life occurrences jostling to lay claim to that time.
Your goals have to scale to the amount of time you have to invest in them.
If you try to shove ten pounds of goals into a one-pound bag, of course you’re going to fail. Failure is demoralizing and makes you less likely to want to try again.
So fuck big, hairy, audacious goals. Set smol, simple, baby goals.
Success is a mansion made of Legos
I am an ambitious person (obviously). (House Slytherin for life, motherfucker.)
In the grand course of my life, I will achieve great things. My dream, right now, is to become a full-time helpful Internet person by making Bitches Get Riches my career. But that is a dream—not a goal. And dreams are not goals! Goals are things you can fail; dreams are built of far more enduring stuff.
Instead, week after week, I set smol, simple, baby goals. These were this week’s BGR goals:
[ ] Write a new article
[ ] Add artwork to existing draft articles
[ ] Spend half an hour answering questions for Patreon donors
[ ] Email all the companies asking me to set up affiliate programs and tell them to kindly pound sand
Seriously, that’s it! I don’t have time for more! There’s just too much other stuff going on in my life. Like picking up used tampon shreds, see above.
But over the course of years and years, each of those little tasks acts like one Lego brick. They don’t do anything on their own, other than cause excruciating pain when trod upon. But stack enough of them, and you’ll have a wall. And you can do a lot with walls.
These are what our walls have looked like:
Year Zero (2016)
[X] Pick a name
[X] Buy a domain
[X] Set up a website
[X] Write, but do not publish, two articles every week
We really did that, by the way. We were determined not to be fly-by-night. It was our way of proving, to ourselves and to each other, that we were serious about Bitches Get Riches. I mean, as serious as we get. Butts butts butts.
Once we built those four Lego walls, we suddenly had a Lego room. We liked how it turned out, so we kept building more.
Year One (2017)
Year Two (2018)
Every year, Lego upon Lego, building walls, building rooms. We stack our efforts in fifteen-minute, one-hour, one-weekend-sized pieces. It’s only a couple of rooms right now, but a few more and it’ll be a glam-ass mansion spacious enough for all of our Breyer Mini-Whinnies!
If our goal from the outset had been “bEcOmE fAmUs N sExXxY bLoGgErZ” it would’ve been like frantically trying to build a Lego mansion with six fucking bricks in the least useful sizes and colors. There is no way in Dante’s frosty and—can I say it?—excessive ninth hell that we would’ve kept going.
If you, like so many others, find yourself thinking about your hopes and dreams as the new year approaches, set yourself up for success by choosing smol, simple, baby goals.
Consider the amount of time and energy you realistically have to invest. Break it down into what you can do in a day, a week, a month. Don’t let your goals be a crushing weight you put on yourself. Don’t calibrate your expectations of yourself against what a douchebag hawking a $2,000 motivational online course says you’re capable of. And don’t deny yourself the simple human joy of unscheduled do-whatever time.
There is nothing to unleash. You are already you. There is no secret, hyper-productive, ultra-successful version of yourself you are cruelly denying the right to shine.
Real success is much more likely to be tiny, repetitive, and quiet. You’re not doing anything wrong if that’s what your personal growth looks like.
More of our articles on goal setting:
- Help! I’m Procrastinating and I Can’t Get Up!
- I’ve Succeeded at Every New Year’s Resolution I’ve Ever Made. Here’s How.
- Ask the Bitches: I Know How to Struggle and Fight, but I Don’t Know How to Succeed
The future of BGR
We flatter ourselves by thinking you want to know what our smol, simple, baby goals for 2019 are. Slash we have big egos and we’re here to make it clear:
Year Three (2019)
[ ] Continue to write one new article every week
[ ] Use our Patreon donors’ help to pilot a podcast
[ ] Formally launch the podcast
[ ] Release new podcasts on an as-yet-to-be-determined schedule
YEP. That’s happening!
We’ve been polling our beloved patrons on the length, style, frequency, and topics they’d like to hear covered. And today I’ve formally asked them to start sending in questions for Piggy and I to answer in our pilot episodes. They will probably be laughably terrible to begin with, so only our Patreon donors will ever get to (have to?) hear them.
If you want to be a part of it, head on down to Patreon.com.
See you all next year!