We are so very bad at it.  It’s amazing.  It’s as if we’re seeing our goals reflected in a hall of mirrors in the Fun House at a carnival and we’re setting our expectations and creating our To Do lists based on that reflection.  We’re either setting goals way too high so they are completely out of reach or we’re taking on so much that we destroy ourselves on the way to getting there.  Then we double down on our goal dysmorphia by seeing the problem not in the goal we’ve set or how we’re attempting to achieve it, but as moral failure within ourselves.  *facepalm*

One of the more common of these is the New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  The goal isn’t the problem.  Being healthy, eating better, losing weight to feel better, increased self-esteem, it’s all good.  However, the fun house mirror we see this through twists the image so we don’t see how this is best achieved through gradual life changes, through reforming habits, through positive reinforcement, and so on.  Instead it seems as if we can use a quick fix, a supplement, a cleanse, a diet plan, a completely new and strenuous exercise regime, a class or some other thing that will really be THE answer and solve the problem for us.  Problem solved except none of those actually change the underlying issue, the change isn’t permanent, can’t be sustained and in the end we usually give up after a couple of weeks and are left feeling worse than we did before without having made any real progress towards the goal.

Another example is the punishing “To Do” list.  In the fun house mirror the list looks like it is helping us achieve all of our goals.  It helps us schedule our day to use our time not only wisely but for maximum out put therefore we will achieve our goals in the quickest and best manner possible.  This should help us build self-esteem, be successful, and make our life a perfectly humming engine of productivity.  However, these To Do lists usually convert from tools that support us into gauntlets we have to navigate throughout the day. They can become burdens that we suffer because the fun house mirror view keeps us from seeing that having a good life isn’t an item on the list, but the reason the list exists.  It isn’t an outcome of achieving the goal, but a reason why we’re attempting to reach the goal at all.  Personal time, joy in life and things we enjoy doing should be a part of every To Do list not just because it’s a good idea, but because without them the other items have no meaning whatsoever.

Before we start making goals and To Do lists to achieve them, lets stop and check to see if we’re looking at our reflection in a regular mirror or one from the fun house.