At the very start of this year, and every year before that for as long as I can remember, I've set myself a series of things to achieve for the twelve months ahead. My 17 Goals for 2017 post actually went viral and is one of my most read posts to date, so I knew other people enjoyed setting them as much as I did.
Except I came across an Instagram post a few weeks ago and suddenly my mind set changed.
"We bombard ourselves with stimuli, input, input, input, and we wonder why we're miserable. We wonder why we're dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea of how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren't."
The last bit really resonated with me.
For as long as I can remember I've been working towards something. I've spent the majority of my twenties working hard to reach the next stage of my life and my career. I knew I wanted to become a magazine editor before I was 30 so I worked hard to achieve that. I wanted to win a blogging award and was lucky enough to achieve that. I've continued to set myself goals of reaching higher numbers on my social media platforms and attracting a higher volume of traffic to my site. But for what? For a status that is deemed "successful" by others? When did I lose sight of my version of success.
I've always been so focused on what the future has in store and never really living in the moment, that I forgot to appreciate everything I have in my life right now. It's sounds a little cliché but I've spent so much time chasing the dream, I forgot to actually live it.
Social media has a huge part to play in our generation's constant need to do everything and be everywhere with everyone. All we see on an hourly basis is post after post of someone buying their first house, getting a promotion, driving a shiny new car or getting invited to amazing events. It's very easy to think, I need to do that. I need these things in my life. This must be what success is.
Sure, if want those things then work damn hard and achieve away baby. But before you do, sit down and take a look at the life you have. The start of January was a pretty crappy time personally for one reason or another, but it really made me sit up and notice of how many amazing people and things I have in my life. I suddenly found myself feeling pressured when I thought about the goals I'd set out to achieve over the next twelve months, when all I really wanted to do was enjoy the here and now. I didn't want to think about whether I'd worked on any goals that day, or whether my social media following had increased. I didn't want to worry about making plans for the weekend in case I had blog posts I had to write.
So I decided to just stop. Stop working towards a never-ending goal. Stop thinking that I wasn't "successful". Stop spending so much time worrying about the future and where I should be at what age. And you know what? I feel like a weight's been lifted off my shoulders. This doesn't mean I'm going to forget everything I've worked hard for and become a couch potato. I've still got dreams I want to work on - that innate instinct of needing to achieve is something I was born with - but right now I'm taking the pressure off needing to "succeed" and see my life for what it is, not what it isn't.