Mental Health and Goals: Double Edged Sword

I set myself a lot of goals. I’ve got a Bucket List that I seem to add onto almost as quickly as I cross things off, and every year I set myself resolutions.

I’ve always kinda considered the goals to be a good thing. I’m a pretty easygoing dude, and without setting myself something to work to I don’t think I’d actually achieve much. Having something to work towards gives me a positive focus and the inspiration to keep working at things.

I was training to do a 10k in August, but with the Corona thing going on, that event has been cancelled and I’ve definitely felt my motivation flag a little. Being ill didn’t help, but mentally my focus wavered. I’ve decided that even without the official event, I’d still like to get to a 10k distance by the end of the year, so I’m hoping to get back on track with that.

The Corona virus and lock down hasn’t been wonderful for my mental health, there’s a sense of hopelessness and “what’s the point?” about lots of things, and my usual coping strategies and support has been impacted. I’ve been trying to use my daily exercise slot as much as I can, as being active is something that helps me a lot.

Work has been the major struggle. Before this all kicked off I was starting to step up my attempts to get a new job and leave, but that’s been shelved. And while the job is a pain in the arse and rather boring at the best of times, the added concerns of a global pandemic have made it unbearably stressful and frustrating. My loathing for having to be there has intensified, and given the choice I’d happily stay home, but y’know, there are bills to pay.

In the hope of giving myself a distraction and positive focus, I decided to do a 2.6 Challenge. This came about after the London marathon was cancelled and charities were having to postpone other events, and hence there was a drop off in their donations. An initiative started for people to do challenges to keep the charities going and ensure they continue to do their good work.

I set one up because I thought that it would be nice to have some sense of achievement and feeling of doing something good. And it would help me keep moving towards my Bucket List goal of raising one million for charity over my lifetime.

And I’m not gonna lie, it did invigorate me. I decided to do 26 challenges in 26 days, and making a list of potential challenge was fun and kept me busy.

I started on the 28th, and did a simple dog walk challenge of walking Ozzy for 2.6k. On day 2, I went up and down my stairs 26 times, which was a little more tiring than I expected.

Day 3, and being back in work, I decided to go for something more online and decided I’d make 260 top 5 lists, and asked on my social media accounts for topics. Over the course of the day I’d find a minute or two here and there to make a list and made a thread on Twitter to keep score.

Unfortunately, while a few people really came through for me and gave me a few suggestions, they were the minority and after I got home from work it became increasingly clear I wasn’t going to make it. In fact, at 10pm I was on 70.

Falling short of this goal absolutely screwed with me. I felt utterly dispirited and like nobody gave a shit. I knew people had helped out, but was kinda annoyed that less people hadn’t just posted a comment or reply to give me something to do.

I felt dumb for thinking I could do it, for thinking I’d get enough responses, that I’d overestimated how many people would interact with me.

It highlighted the downside of setting goals. When you achieve a goal, you get this high, this wonderful buzz of achievement. When you miss it, you get the opposite, this massive low, this feeling of worthlessness.

I was considering just abandoning the whole challenge, not seeing the point of continuing, as I figured I’d failed the basic premise of doing 26 challenges. I went to bed in a funk, and was gonna leave it there.

This morning I kinda made myself rethink it. If I give up I’ll definitely not have anything to show this beyond the couple of donations I’ve already received. I’d feel worse in the long run for having quit and not done more to help the charity I’d picked (The Big Issue Foundation).

And I’d already taken steps to set up future challenges. So I decided that I’d proceed but more carefully. If I have a task that needs other people to help, I’ll ask in advance, so people have more time to reply as expecting everyone to post in one day might have been shortsighted on my part.

I kinda still feel bummed that at the end of this I won’t have a perfect score of challenges completed, but I feel my enthusiasm is still there and I can still get some benefit from this challenge, and help a good cause.

What I’ve decided to do is that for the challenges I fail, I’ll donate a pound myself. Kinda like a failure tax, and to ensure that even when I fall short I’m still helping the cause. Of course, these quid donations won’t be added to my million total.

I’ve decided to do 26 star jumps today, and I’ll probably update here with how I’m doing.

I think I’m going to continue with setting myself goals, but I’ve got to work on not letting a missed target screw with my head as much.

Any tips for how to do that? Or ideas for 2.6 challenges I can do (they need to be based around the numbers 2 and 6).

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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