When I was compiling my Complimentary List of 13, I was a bit on a tight spot trying to come up with good ideas to color up my rutine, so I had a lot of ideas that weren't really doable, such as "finish a chapter of the new story" and stuff like that. Something like isn't feasable because you can't command your inspiration to work on a schedule. At the end I've got a list done - as you all know it - but as I started working around it I realized that some of the tasks I've wroten for myself might be a bit farfetched. How was I supposed to read all that and do all that? And how was I supposed to visit all those places? And cook too? By yesterday afternoon I was thinking that I've got a bit over my head, specially when the visit to the used book bookstore fell through the cracks for me. I was kinda upset because of it, specially after having done so well with the first list. Was I going to fail the second list? One week into it?
I started to think about the lists and whether it was okay to make them so constraining. Should I hold myself to tight to their schedule, or is it okay if I don't comply with them? Not complying with the list I wrote to myself feels kinda like failing to myself, but do I really fail myself if I don't follow the list I've written for myself?
This happens often with things we promise ourselves, and this often can give us more problems than if we wouldn't have made ourselves such promises. Just think about the New Year promises - though those often are more lax and most people tend not to take them seriously -, or when you decide to lose a certain amount of weight (or fit into clothes four or more sizes smaller than your actual size) by a certain date, or you promise yourself to have a fabulous job by this date, or become rich and famous by the time you are 30, maybe even get married by 28 and have two kids by 34. Some of these promises might seem farfetched, but even those you may think within reach - like getting a diploma in four years - could be trumped and made difficult to achieve. As dumb as it may sound, often when we can't keep the promise we've made to ourselves, we feel really bad, specially because - unlike with the promises made to others - we can't fool ourselves as easily with excuses. We may try, but down inside we know the truth about the excuses, and that doesn't help.
Thing about these promises and these lists, is that they are often done without we ourselves knowing the turf or having in consideration all the externalities that can influence the feasability of the task we've set for ourselves. Also, often we mix "desires" with "tasks", which makes accomplishing them far more difficult, specially because some of these desires depend partly of elements you can't control. For instance, you may want to get married in a year, but if you don't even have a boyfriend or girlfriend, how do you intend to accomplish that? And even if you do, how do you intend to get someone to marry you, who may not want to? (Yes, unlike popular believes tell, just because someone is in a relationship with you, it doesn't mean that they want to marry you and have kids with you. Marriage isn't the natural outcome and the ulterior motive of all relationships.)
It's okay to do lists and set yourself goals and purposes, and "failing" them is okay as well. Whenever you make a list of goals or tasks, first have in mind the Central Purpose of the list. What do you want to achieve with it? Then, instead of concentrating on the individual goals or tasks, consider always the Central Purpose. For instance, you may have decided to lose 20 pounds of your weight (10 kgs) by the next year, and no matter how you tried, you lost less or didn't lose any weight at all. What was your Central Purpose? To lose weight? You actually may have achieved that if you lost some weight. To be healthier? A number of pounds won't tell you how healthy are you, but you can check up with a physician. To be happier? Well, it's sad if your happiness depends on your weight. If it is so, I can guarantee you that you'll never be happy.
Failing also gives you the chance to review your goal or your task, to see what went wrong, or what should be corrected for the next time. You may need more time or more research, or maybe even more help, better ideas and so on. You may need to change your focus, be more flexible about your tasks and goals and reinterpret them or find new ways to accomplish them. Maybe - following on the topic of weight - you should reconsider the diet and rather try doing some exercise, or stop measuring your weight and start considering your measures - you might be developping muscles, so your measures might be going down, but as muscle weights more than fat, you might be getting heavier.
Then, whether you achieve your goals and complete your tasks or not, or whether you over achieve them (lose more weight than originally planned), review as often as possible how do the tasks or goals help you achieve your Central Purpose. Are you really looking better, or the loss of weight is making you look sickly and deforms your body? Is this race to get married getting you closer to Your One or are you in such a hurry to get married that you are preparing to tie the knot with someone you don't get along with very well?
In the end I accomplished my alotted part of the list for this week. I discovered that I can complete all my tasks if I reconsider those that are hard to achieve, if I don't stick desperately to an idea or a schedule I make myself, but if I allow myself to make discoveries and find new ways that keep the idea and remain truthful to my Central Purpose. It's not a matter of "doing it so I don't fail myself", but a matter of "what I wanted to accomplish, and given the current difficulties, how can I still achieve this goal/complete this tasks?" It's in your hands, and it's not about negotiating with yourself, but going back to your core, reviewing and searching for new paths when the old path is blocked, or reconsidering whether you've made a plan to tight, and need to reevaluate it and retailor it, so that it gives you the space you need to make things work and get throught with what you really want from the experience.