The moving goalposts

As I reflect on my year the term “moving goalposts” came up regularly in my life. However, the best time it was used, and which makes me smile every time I think of this DM exchange with a friend, was below. My friend noticed that I had changed my kids’ Terry Fox School Run target because they had hit their target so early, we didn’t want donations to stop coming in. He noticed because he gave a significant donation that brought them over their BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). 

What I realized in this reflection is that we are generally taught to move our goalposts to achieve a better result. You often hear people say “raising the bar”, which is a similar concept. However, nobody ever talks about moving in “the other direction.” Yet, as I continue my palliative treatments, I’ve had to do that regularly and I have beaten myself up over it every single time. There are times I didn’t move my goalposts and I failed to achieve what I had set out to do, not for lack of trying; I am no longer able to perform at the same level I used to. Let me tell you – it’s hugely demoralising, and I’ve cried over it so many times this year. When I say I’m not able to perform at a level, I’m not talking about racing on my snowboard, beating a hiking time on a certain trail, or anything of the sort. I’m referring to the day-to-day things, like cleaning my house, doing my laundry, making meals, etc. I hit my wall sooner than I did in the early years of my cancer treatments. I still think I can be SuperMom who is able to shop, make dinner and clean my house before taking my kids to their extracurricular activities. 

2023 was the year I finally figured it out. It’s OK to move your personal goalposts whenever and wherever you want to move them, work being the exception as it would likely be seen as sandbagging. The reality is that you know what you are physically, mentally and/ or emotionally capable of. If it means that you move the goalposts and things you planned to do don’t get done, that’s OK. The world won’t end, I promise!

The goalposts

There are obviously times when the goalposts can’t move. You can’t leave a 4-year-old waiting at a bus stop alone or have them cook their own dinner, for example. Child Services would be visiting very quickly. While I have often asked others to help, I have always felt guilty that I was a burden to them. Thankfully, I have an incredibly wise boyfriend and a persistent therapist who continually remind me that those around me wouldn’t help if didn’t didn’t want to do so. It’s taken me a few years, but as I was driving through the mountains a few days ago, it all started to make sense.

The field full of teammates

For the times when the goalposts truly can’t move, not because of a self-imposed constraint, but because there are real consequences to moving them, I have teammates! I needed to reframe how I saw those who have been cheering me on and helping me along the way. They don’t see me ad their “pitiful” [insert appropriate noun: sister, daughter, girlfriend, mom, friend, acquaintance, patient, customer…]. These individuals choose to help because I contribute to their lives in some fashion, even if it isn’t often obvious to me.

Going into 2024, I will remember I have every right to move goalposts where I need to and when it’s permissible. For the times it isn’t possible, I have the most compassionate and amazing teammates along side me and waiting for me to simply pass the ball to them.

To A.A.B, I am dedicating the title of this blog to you. To all those my team, please accept my heartfelt thank you. I’m ready to head into 2024 with a different outlook on adjusting my goalposts.

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4 Replies to “The moving goalposts”

  1. Glad for your continuing, positive update, Natalie. Also happy you have a boyfriend to support you through your journey. Your courage and motivation is a testament to what one can accomplish. All the best for 2024 and beyond.

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