For long-time visitors to my Glob, Sherry Isaac needs no introduction. She thunked me out of my hammock many times to share her wit and wisdom. Today, she returns with a short series on goals.
I have a sneaky suspicion this will ultimately result in exposure of my progress-to-date on lofty plans made for 2012.
If Sherry thinks she’s going to catch me with NOTHING going as planned, I take a preemptive strike. A to-do list item achieved thirty-one times in January, 2012. That completed task is…
Without further comment, I bring you Sherry Isaac. SPLAT.
Raised by Nancy Drew and Jane Marple, Alice Munro Short Story Award winner Sherry Isaac’s novels and short stories weave the common thread of everyday life, love and forgiveness into tales that transcend all things, including the grave. Find Sherry on the web, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and read her blog posts at Romance & Beyond.
STEP AWAY FROM JANUARY – IT MAY BE LOADED
by Sherry Isaac
December 31st, the clock strikes midnight, and like Cinderella, our lives are transformed. Lose the slipper, lose ten pounds. Land a prince, land a promotion, land an agent.
Water cooler conversation revolves around resolutions. Blog post after blog post focuses on goals. And why not? We can’t all be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, scooped up by a millionaire. WOOT WOOT WOOT! (No, this clip is not in English, but WOOT transcends language barriers.)
Goal-setting is an art form. It is also an integral part of this writer’s life.
I am no goal-setting guru, no resolution expert. I set out with good intentions, sometimes I fail, once in a while I succeed. I read the goals of others and applaud their commitment. I cheer their efforts and admire their dreams.
Hmm. Dreams? Some goals are dreams, and fine aspirations, but sadly, out of the goal-maker’s hands. I will get through winter without a cold is a goal that should make everyone’s list. And yet…
I see a few flies in the Vicks VapoRub.
Everywhere I turn, goals are in abundance. Many dreams are big, big, big, and even so, attainable. And other dreams will turn to dust before the release of iPad 4.
Here on the hammock, over the next two posts, we’ll explore why.
To January, or not to January?
The custom of making resolutions as the new year rolls in is old as
my mother-in-law dirt, but who says we have to make changes in our lives on January 1st? What about the other 364 days in a year?
Stuffed as the Christmas pig and acutely aware of our cranberry streusel muffin top, we swear off all things pudding, figgy or otherwise.
Guilt is an unreliable motivator. Life returns to normal and soon all the rah-rah-rah of diet promises wears thin. What’s the rush? We’ve got four more months before bikini season hits. Have another slice of pizza! Dip another toe in the hummus!
To make changes, real changes, we have to live those changes daily, but does every shift we make in our lives have to start on the same day?
January 1 seems like the perfect time to make a few adjustments, but the week between Christmas and New Years throws me off my game. I lack focus and energy.
A tendency to hibernate over the winter months doesn’t help.
My birthday seems like a natural alternative, but at summer’s end, I know I’ll hit a road block as soon as the weather turns cooler and I retreat back in doors.
But what about spring?
For me, spring is the most natural time for renewal and growth. The days are longer. I emerge from my den. Sunlight, fresh air, the promise of spring, all work with my inner clock. Experience has shown I have a far greater success rate with goals I set as my world wakes up from winter.
Others may find winter works well, setting the blueprint while the world is at rest. Point is, choose a time that works for you, not the calendar.
Spread the Joy
Must we set all new goals on the same day? If that works for you, sure. But if it doesn’t, then don’t.
Intellectually, we understand that not every item on our list of goals must be accomplished over the course of one day, but when we compose the list in one day–lose ten pounds, write a novel, build a fence, clean the garage, plant a rose garden, climb Kilimanjaro and learn Japanese–the list can seem daunting.
Feeling overwhelmed can lead to discouragement. Discouragement can lead to failure long before item one gets struck off the list.
Packaging goals, and then spreading those goals across the calendar, could be your answer.
Consider setting career goals on the anniversary of your hire, or align those goals with performance reviews. Better yet, lay out your goals a month or two ahead of time, so you already have a plan in action when the boss books your review. You may even have a completed achievement or two as proof that you deserve that raise, that promotion, or both.
Combo-pack like goals. Tackle the loss of ten pounds over the winter months while learning to Salsa, and you’ll be ready to dance the summer nights away.
Easy peasy goals are pointless. If we wanted to coast on same old, same old, we wouldn’t set goals. Goals must take us out of our safety zones, challenge us, teach us or help us strive toward better things. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother making that list.
Lofty goals can put us behind, and keep us behind. Reach for the stars, but reach for them one at a time. Goals need to be tempered with reason and attainability.
Mix Goal-Setting with Pleasure
Add purpose to your goals. And rewards.
This can be simple: For instance, Gloria is working hard to stay away from Yogurtland and stay on track with her manuscript. When she meets her writing quota for the day for a week, Friday afternoon she goes to Yogurtland for a split tub of red velvet cake batter/cheesecake soft frozen yogurt topped with Ghiradelli Syrup.
Or, this can be complex: Let’s say you’ve always wanted to learn another language, and you dream of traveling to Paris. Sign up for French classes, and plan that long-awaited trip for a year’s time. Two goals down, but when one is a reward, it seems less like work, and visions of the Eiffel Tower can be that carrot on a stick as you conjugate your verbs.
Keep The Target in Sight
Lose ten pounds. Write a novel. Learn to tango.
All of these goals are attainable, but if you write the list, grin with giddy pride as you read your trend-setting plans, then slide the list in the sock drawer where it will sit until next January, how much progress will you make?
Chances are, you’ll lose track of the goals you set. Chances are, your list will look the same next year.
Keep the list open. Keep the list accessible. Don’t put your list in a drawer, don’t close the file on your computer and never look back. Refer to the goals often.
A person struggling to lose weight slips a picture of a super-model under a refrigerator magnet. An aspiring actress chooses Oscar for a screen saver. The image she is striving for stays present in her mind.
Keep your goals front and center, and you’ll think twice before sinking your teeth into that double chocolate donut.
Come back Friday for STEP AWAY FROM THE JANUARY, IT MAY BE LOADED — PART II, where we will feature Control Freaks in the Playground… or something like that. I’ll check my notes.
In the meantime, we’d love for you to share a goal or two of your own. Or just say ‘hi’. Gloria and I are needy like that.