Goals (or not) - Sudden Write Turn Freelance Writing

Goals (or not)

Is the question, “if you set a goal, do you have the courage to pursue it?”

Or, is the real question, “if you set a goal, do you have the courage to achieve it?”

I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing my goal, and I’ve gotten damn good at it. Too good.

Eighteen months ago, after deciding that I wanted to transition to a freelance writing career, I set a goal to save a certain dollar amount of cash, the approximate equivalent of a year and a half without an income. This dollar amount came to represent my finish line, my freedom from a disappointing non-career. People save up for vacations, boats, fancy cars, cosmetic surgery, so why couldn’t I save up for a safety net to pursue my dream of writing for a living?

The amount I set out to save may have been mixed up in the monthly amount I could save (which has been significant thanks to aggressive debt-reduction and the frugality that the Husband and I practice) and in the fear of how long it would take for anyone to pay me to write. In this quasi-arbitrary way I picked The Dollar Amount and charted my course through the summer of this year.

Now, something somewhat puzzling has happened. The whole reason for The Dollar Amount got lost in the shuffle.

Nephew K. demonstrates "a goal."

The Dollar Amount, I now realize, has become a false goal.

A goal can possess a majesty that animates it into something like an elusive wild animal. Not elusive in that it is hidden. On the contrary, you can observe it all you like, rather like a documentarian, always from a distance, but you may not catch it.

It is unconcerned by you, your staring, your always hanging around. It goes on with its wild life, tolerating you on the fringe, you crouching off to the side trying to breathe its air and describe its every action. This wild animal, named “Goal,” becomes somewhat of an idol: blindly worshiped, never possessed. And this wild animal idol, being wild, might just turn one day and decide to kill you on the spot.

When this is the situation with your goal, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Since I am in the midst of this re-evaluation/breakdown, I won’t be able to give you one of those highly marketable lists, like, “Top Five Ways To Re-Evaluate Your Goals!”

But I can tell you what I think my re-evaluation is begging me to be honest about.

“Whether The Goal (The Dollar Amount)…”

  1. … Has become an excuse to delay.
  2. … Has become a substitute for trusting other people in my life to take care of me when I need it.
  3. … Is worth XX more months of compromised sanity.

The ultimate goal has always been to transition to a freelance writing career. Somehow the money-saving-meta-goal subverted the ultimate goal in my consciousness. Now it threatens to tire of my blind worship and turn on me.

Serves me right.

The time is coming to stop following this wild animal from a safe distance, and to reach out and grab it with my bare hands!




Reader Interactions


  1. “Is worth XX more months of compromised sanity.”

    A to the Men!

    I know this feeling so well. When I decided to take Fridays off to work more on my writing, the fear was that I was moving too fast. I had just started to bring in a little bit of money with my freelancing, and I always planned on saving that up to a comfortable cushion before modifying my 9-5 hours. Deciding to “spend” that money immediately to buy myself a day of freedom seemed hasty, selfish, and irresponsible.

    Then I realized something: The whole point of my freelancing in the first place was to buy myself some sanity. I was in the position where I was able to buy myself one day a week of happiness, freedom, and *life*, and there was no point “saving the good china” when I could enjoy a little bit of my REAL goal (sanity/life) right here and now.

    Of course, now that I’ve had a little taste of freedom, I find myself trying to find ways to make even *more* freedom work, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant. 😀

    KUDOS to you for taking the leap of faith and making it happen. Sanity IS worth infinitely more than a comfortable bank account–it’s failure to realize that that has so many people trapped and miserable.

    • I could plan-plan-plan forever, and still lose my sanity. What’s the point if you can’t enjoy it, right? I’m not say that people should throw caution to the wind, but the other end of the spectrum (hyper-careful) isn’t very productive or much fun, either.

      My cushion is decent and the timing is right. Happily, I was able to notice that fact and seize on it. I.e.: The right time has come before I planned. Shame on me if I were to blindly stick to the plan.

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