Goal fantasies versus realities, part deux: self-sabotage

The extensive list of goals that I posted after midnight this morning has got me thinking.

If all these goals have been on my mind for a long time, what has kept me from finishing them?

I woke up with two answers.

1) Though I can usually tell time without a clock to within a few minutes, I have no sense of how quickly time passes. When I’m engrossed in doing something, whether it’s editing for work or digging a hole in the garden, I’m there in the moment, and the moment extends indefinitely. That’s why I sometimes don’t push away from my job until seven at night, and why I can sit on our back stone wall for an hour, just watching the forest.

2) I have no sense of becoming tired. It’s as though the more tired I get, the more focused I become on the task, so my focus becomes tighter and tighter, which excludes my physical state more and more from awareness. This must come from years of being solely responsible for too much, and having to function well despite poor health.

The solution seems obvious: establish a schedule. A weekly, daily, hourly schedule for my job, my writing, my chores and even my personal habits.

And, to help me keep track of time, maybe set up alarms to keep me aware that time’s passing?

I LOATHE those solutions.

But is my loathing simply an angry reaction to having all these goals hanging over my head? To becoming increasingly tired to the point of collapse as I fall further and further behind in so much that I want to get done?


So, first things first: I have to sleep. I have to decrease my stress and maintain my health. With those as the foundation, I can move ahead.

To move ahead, the slipperiness of my time sense has to be decreased. Time has to be scheduled and I have to become more aware of time. Instead of chaining me, this would give me freedom.

The solution may be as simple as getting a softly chiming clock.

I’m curious. How tightly do you have to schedule your days? Do you resent it? What works and doesn’t work for you?

14 thoughts on “Goal fantasies versus realities, part deux: self-sabotage

  1. Jennette Marie Powell

    I have the opposite problem you do – I have trouble focusing on anything for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. I hate it! I am not ADHD or anything like that, so I don’t know why I’m like this. On the occasion I do manage to focus on something for an hour or more, whether it’s my day job, writing, cleaning my turtle tank LOL – I welcome it! I tried scheduling everythig, but that didn’t work. So I just schedule a couple things each evening, one being exercise, which I’ll forget to do otherwise. Other things, like paperwork, I do on a set evening each week (Monday) – maybe that would help you? Also you don’t have to write every day – do what works for you! Good luck – you have an enviably ambitious set of goals!

    1. SJ Driscoll

      Hi, Jennette. Setting aside certain tasks for certain days is a good idea. Probably I won’t work in the garden or on epubbing every day—there’s just not enough time.

      I wonder why you can’t focus for long? Do you have too many things to do? Sometimes I’ve felt like a rat in a maze but acting on specific goals has mostly cured that.

  2. asraidevin

    I miss the tight schedule of working at a school. I long for that at home, but I find myself languishing. I’d set up a schedule with text memos to my phone via cozi but my hubby works a 7 on, 4 off, 7 on 3 off schedule and the constant messages would drive him crazy and my days aren’t the same. Some days my son naps by noon, some days he believes that he’d like to nap closer to 2 or even 3.
    I don’t have an answer yet. Though I suspect it lies in intention and focusing. It’s too late for me to form full ideas. I’ll come back tomorrow with a better answer.

    1. SJ Driscoll

      Hi, Asrai! I don’t know whether tight scheduling is the answer. It is for me because I don’t notice time passing, so I focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else I want/need to get done.

      Could you—I don’t know—whenever you get a few minutes, could you write in longhand? It’s slow but you wouldn’t have to be tethered to a computer.

      1. asraidevin

        I think the longhand writing might really help me squeeze in some extra writing, because during the day when I touch the computer, I get distracted by the shinies. A return to the roots of writing might benefit. Thanks for the idea.

        1. SJ Driscoll

          The same thing happens to me. When I’m writing well, I work in longhand in the morning and type it into a doc before bed. That also sets me up for the next morning. I have to try to get into that pattern again. Good luck!

  3. Sheila Seabrook

    My eldest son, who owns a production studio, recently began to schedule in his day in this fashion. He finds he gets more done and he’s encouraging me to do this too. I think that when one has so much to do every day, allotting time to each item ensures you make progress, instead of spinning your wheels.

    And rest, PJ … Rest is so important. 🙂

    1. SJ Driscoll

      Hi, Sheila! Rest is one thing that’s never been a priority for me… which is probably why I get so tired, lolol. But (to reiterate my whine on a previous post’s comments) rest can be so bo-o-o-o-oring!

  4. KM Huber

    Having similar schedule issues and like you, I suspect my reaction to scheduling is anger as well, perhaps for different reasons, but I, too, need to pay attention to my health, of which I have a history of neglecting. This is such a rambling comment but please know how much hope your post gives me, and now, if I can just write a post for tomorrow’s round kickoff, a most inauspicious beginning for me.


    1. SJ Driscoll

      Hi, KM—Thanks for your kind words.

      I just peeked at your blog to find that you’re moving along with your goals!

      Now that I’m trying to be more aware, much of my anger has evaporated. It’s freeing to rediscover that I do have a lot of control over my life direction. I feel happier and, amazingly, less harried.

  5. Debra Eve

    SJ, I have the same exact problems for similar reasons, including functioning with a chronic illness. I’ve found using something like the Pomodoro method (25 mins work with 5 minute break) helps me switch from activity to activity. I use an app for my Android phone to time, which has some nice chimes.

    But sometimes I just like immersing myself for hours on end. I’ve yet to find a satisfying balance, and have just accepted that I won’t ever be one of those hyper-productive people. All part of being a late bloomer 🙂

    1. SJ Driscoll

      Hey, Debra! Thanks for the idea of using an app for timing. Our phone contract has to run out before I can get a smartphone (my last almost-smartphone gave up the ghost after being washed with the laundry too often) so I’m going to try an iPod Touch.

      I’m not sure the Pomodoro method would work for me. Sometimes it takes a half-hour to settle down to work, but after that just try to stop me! Do you sometimes forget your delicate health? I sure do—start feeling indomitable, then conk out on the sofa on a Saturday.

      At this point in life, I’d rather bloom sooner than later— 🙂

  6. emmaburcart

    With my day job I have to be tightly scheduled, so I add in the scheduling of my morning time too. That way when I come home from work I’m done and can do what I want to do. I recently discovered that keeping my morning schedule of on the weekends is great, too. If I still get up early and write, then I’m starting the day off doing something for me and I am happy for the rest of the day. It’s a new habit I’m going to keep up. You have to find the schedule that works for you.

    1. SJ Driscoll

      Hi, Emma. I used to write at 5:30 in the morning, which worked until I got sick of coffee. Since I work at home, my day job can begin before breakfast, and it sometimes does—there’s no commute to separate home time from work. Never thought I’d regret that 90-minute New York commute but it did give me a secret time to write.

Comments are closed.