29 November 2007

Of Goals and Life (Or Rationalization 101?)

Back in May, I drew up a list of 40 things I wanted to do by the time I turned 40 in August 2009. Earlier that same month I joined an online reading challenge called Reading by the Decade. I have already abandoned one of the items on the 40 by 40 list, and I am about to abandon the Reading by the Decade challenge. And I may even abandon another goal (#23) on the 40 by 40 list. What is my problem you ask? Why am I such a loser that I can't achieve these simple goals? Life, I tell you, life. Not in the sense that life is overwhelming me and I can't possibly achieve these goals. But LIFE, as in I am loving every minute of it. As in, life is too short to not enjoy every minute of it. As in, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, as award-winning as it may be, is just too damn boring for me to care about even though I am 2/3 finished. The irony is that the big things on my list (quitting my old job and starting my new one) have given me a fabulous new lease on life that makes caring about the little things on my list (reading a book I find boring just to make myself a better person) far too tedious. I still have a book in my hands every free chance I get, and I am still going to check out and enjoy the giants of the literary world. But I no longer feel the need to impress myself or anyone else by finishing "important" but ultimately unfulfilling books. The same goes for my life. I will still take a stab at the important goals and even those that aren't fun, but I won't force myself to finish something just for the sake of crossing it off of a list. I could wax rhapsodic about my new job and about how in my former life as a federal government drone finishing a list was sometimes the only sense of achievement I managed to find. But I won't. I am saving that for goal number 7 (Finish my novel).

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