Correcting a Week of No Goal Progress or Caring (GHD070-075)

Correcting a Week of No Goal Progress or Caring (GHD070-075)

From Monday April 11 through Sunday April 17, I have not been doing any Groundhog Day Resolution goal work. Partly it was because of the stress of work deadlines and my upcoming month-long trip overseas, and partly it is due to irritation at judgmental commentary I have been receiving. But after spending a weekend processing how I felt about Goals and Progress, I’ve come to some clarity about what’s not working about my approach, and am resetting my goal criteria! I outline the faults, and the changes I am making, after the jump.

Faults of the Current System

I am easily bored. I don’t like following routine for the sake of having one, though I recognize there are certain benefits like ‘regular progress’ and ‘simplified choices’ that arise from them. That said, without other people around to help set the ritual and provide social value, ritual doesn’t work for me. I crave newness and immediacy.

That said, I do recognize that for me to make progress on my 10 year goals, I have to ensure that I’m making periodic progress on them. I have to keep them top-of-mind, and push on them regularly, otherwise they will continue to languish as they have for the last ten+ years. So for the past 70 or so days, I’ve tried to do this with some success, but I don’t think I can sustain it in a vacuum. The reward-to-effort ratio is not high enough to maintain my motivational circuitry.

Faults of my Current Tracking System

I’m stressed by work and by this upcoming trip overseas. My trips to Taiwan are always fraught with a lot of childhood-era anxiety about getting lost and being made to felt unwelcome as a third-culture interloper, neither American or Taiwanese. Under such primal stress, my desire to track everyday minutia is vastly undermined, and I am more sensitive to lack of progress and criticism than normal. It is just a matter of not having the mental energy, I suppose, and my pool of patience is very shallow at the moment.

Recognizing this, I can take a deep breath and remind myself that everything is OK, and I have a lot to be thankful for even though I am not feeling particularly thankful. It is a good time to see what my friends are doing, to poke around on the Internet and see what inspiring things are going on, and maybe play some video games. Weirdly, I’ve been finding the game Rainbow Six: Siege particularly relaxing because it features much higher-stress situations than I have to face in real life; I sometimes watch the movie Saving Private Ryan for a similar reason.

So where does this leave the tracking system I’m using? Let’s review why I have one in the first place: it is supposed to give me a sense of progress that results in measurable results over time; in other words, it’s a way of turning the “deferred rewards” of long-term development into a daily reflection that “YES, THINGS ARE HAPPENING”. However, the entire reason to have goals such as these are to achieve fulfillment and happiness in my day-to-day existence; I think I need to be open to other avenues to achieve this in addition to my 10-year goals.


I think the major failing at the moment is that progress is still happening very slowly, and I’m starting to get bored. I would like to adjust the mix of allowable activities as far as Groundhog Day Resolutions are concerned:

  • It is necessary to devote long hours in the mastering of new skills and assets. Without them, it is impossible to advance in capability. I have learned that I can make progress like this with just fifteen minutes of effort at a time, which is hugely empowering. I’ve also learned that I can use virtual coworking via my livestream channel to talk-through difficult startups. I will continue to apply these techniques in the pursuit of my Groundhog Day Resolutions; let’s call this the strategic development part of my plan.

  • It is also necessary, I am finding, to take breaks from the process. I already am doing that quite a bit, but am not writing about these activities because I thought they were a distraction from the main goals push. My new theory is that the distractions may be the work itself, if I frame them as a kind of inspirational and holistic support. The kind of things that distract me tend to be positive and heart-warming, hinting at undiscovered troves of excellence and possibility. It’s that feeling, in fact, that drives me and makes me happy. I think I will call this my qualitative happiness through sharing goal.

So this simplifies the daily points measurement system once again, and I will have to adjust my goal tracking sheet again. I think there are two main trackable types of activities:

  1. Did I make progress on building assets or developing mastery for (1) my 10 year goals or (2) any new opportunity that caught my attention? If yes, then that’s worth a point!
  2. Did I share something interesting I researched, discovered, or made real? If yes, that’s worth a point!

This is really a variation on my long-time “make and share” approach to creativity. I look forward to making a third pass on my current goal tracker form to capture this intent.

About this Article Series

For my 2016 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to make something goal-related every day from February 2nd through December 12. All the related posts (and more!) are gathered on the Challenge Page.


  1. Al 8 years ago

    Hey Dave,

    I have no idea what judgemental commentary you have been receiving, but do ignore it please. You are your only judge and I do hope you are proud of all you have achieved this year so far.

  2. Donald Wheeler 8 years ago

    Agree with Al, Dave. Remember that you’re actually producing and creating; that makes people that are too lazy to do anything scared and want to lash out. Getting nastiness and pushback is a good sign that you’re actually doing something.

  3. Jess 8 years ago

    I’ll ditto Al and Donald. I want to share a “you are not alone.” Like you, I have Big-Long-Term-Things that I want to do, and they tend to get an oscillating amount of attention as I struggle with the real paying work, and the kids, and all the other things that are part of being in a society rather than a vacuum. While I can see progress, I think I have a system DOWN, but then, I have to do something different. Something changes to destroy the nascent system. Then, I’ll say, “Oh, I’ll get back to that when…” and then a few weeks later, I will have made no progress on my Big-Long-Term-Things and be bummed about my lack of discipline/time/skill/motivation. Years pass this way. I get some reassurance by watching you discuss your similar struggle publicly because it seems like most people never talk about plans and struggles in real terms. I love trying out the forms and trackers that you make available. I’ve got a paper sketch version of the GHD Resolutions Tracker that is a slight alteration (fewer goals) from yours, but I also have a rough “bucket of check marks” for Big-Long-Term-Things on a plain notebook page. I’ve considered going super low tech and setting up jars that I can put wads of paper in that say what I did, and I can watch the jars fill up..maybe a virtual row of jars would be more your speed. Keep up the good fight.

  4. Lisa M 8 years ago

    One of the challenges of being analytic and logical is that we want to apply that to everything and have it all come out neatly and cleanly as planned. Then…life. Although it may feel like you’re not moving fast enough in the direction you’ve set, I’ve found it helpful sometimes to look back to the same date a year ago and remind myself of the distance traveled in the past year. And it’s ok to change plans, revise goals, and take a break when it becomes more of a slog than a pleasure. I think you need to give yourself a lot of credit and lighten up on the rest. You have bill-paying work that has a deadline. You have travel and personal stuff that has a deadline. Do life, then come back to the plan. It’ll still be there.

  5. Author
    Dave Seah 8 years ago

    Thanks everyone! I appreciate having people like you around to remind me I’m not alone in big pushes. I think the key, for me, is to keep pushing as I can and keep focused on it as much as I can; I’d say that the first part of this year has been the most concerted push I’ve yet done so far, and I have found some of the breaking points. That’s great to know the limits of what I can currently do, and how I react to it. I would regard that finding as a great success.

    I am terrible at finding balance though :-)