Week 18 – Setting Goals (AKA “Putting One Foot In Front of the Other, and for Pete’s Sake, Give Yourself a Break Every Once in a While”)

I’ll let you into my little personal circle for a second.
I am one of three girls.
I am the middle.
I am not anal.
I am not too competitive. OK, well, I
am a little. . . .
I have an artsy-fartsy brain as opposed to a scientific-smartsy brain.
I am organized in some ways, not in many others.
My goals usually reach over the next 24 hours, and include the A #1 top goal:
make it through the day.
My eyes glaze over a little when someone starts speaking math at me.

I am a hot mess of sticky notes galore, and notebooks abound in my “work space”.
I could use an organized, goal oriented slap in the tush.

My older sister, on the other hand, is practically the opposite of me.
Goal oriented and results driven, organized, motivated, and analytical. She’s got a system. And it works.
She told me about it a few months ago, thinking I might be able to present it all in the context of The 52 Week Project.
She lost me in paragraph two of our phone conversation. My heart started pounding and I felt sort of panicky like I did when my dad was teaching me piano back in third grade. I felt a little like, “Get me the heck out of here this is NOT MY TERRITORY!!”  *whimper*.
So instead, clearly seeing the benefit of this system, and understanding the need for it in my life, I asked her to share it.
If she writes it down, I can see it and digest it.
I can take a breather if I head into a panic attack.
And I can refer back to it ten minutes later after I forget it.
I can underline and highlight and make countless lists and use sticky notes on a giant note pad with SHARPIE MARKERS!!
Now she’s singing my tune!

Here it is: the clear, step by step plan to making your goals reality, from my anal big sis, who, for some odd reason, has no addiction to jellybeans.
Weird.

*******

I Have to admit, when Sara first asked me to do a guest posting for her blog on the subject of goal setting, I was excited.

And flattered.

Then I became overwhelmed.  It reminded me of the times in grad school when I would have a huge project due, and I would have a million swirling ideas running rampant in my head.  Good ideas.  Powerful ideas.

Ideas I could never quite seem to get out in “just the right way.”  Or so it seemed to me.

Because I became frozen – the proverbial “paralysis by analysis.”  And then I would have to take a deep breath, make my list, and tackle things one.step.at.a.time.

So, while on my bike (where I do most of my best thinking, praying, and pondering), turning this idea over and over and over in my head, I suddenly remembered Kris Kringle……

We’ve all seen it, but in case there’s someone out there that has been living in a cave, under a rock, or deep in a hole over the last 30 years or so, this is the absolute BEST part of this movie – a part I have taken with me since the first time I saw the technologically advanced claymation that made my heart sing when I was 5 or 6 years old.

So, I’ve decided that I will use a 70’s cartoon to try to illustrate my point.

Every year, and not necessarily around the New Year’s holiday, I come up with a list of goals for the upcoming year.  I refuse to call them “resolutions,” because if I somehow don’t stick to that “resolution,” I come away feeling like I’ve failed.  Instead, I come up with goals.  A goal is something to shoot for, right?  I can impose a deadline, but overall, I can take as much time or as little to meet that goal.

This fits in VERY nicely with my personality.  I’m your typical first-born type-A goal oriented and driven person.  My full-time job is as a pediatric physical therapist.  The majority of my job is to analyze problems, or “functional limitations,” and develop goals and objectives to improve the functional ability of the child within the context of his or her family/school/community life.  My part-time job is racing bicycles professionally.  My other job is coaching others to their athletic goals.

My life is all about goals.

Except every year, when I think,

“I want to eat better,” or

“I want to get more sleep,” or

“I want to spend more time with my family,” or

“I want to improve my spiritual life”

I end up falling short.  It becomes overwhelming.  I feel like a failure.

So this year, it dawned on me that I should probably approach these goals the same way I approach everything else.  As silly as it sounds, I decided to break it down.  Pure and simple task-analysis.

Back to grad school.

I went to the office supply store and bought a huge Post-It Note wall pad.  I bought some colored Sharpie markers (my daughter and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Sharpie markers).  I put “family meeting” on the calendar, and provided an atmosphere of anticipation at home.

Silly.

I know.

But it kinda worked.

I had some big categories, each on its own Post-It stuck up to the living room wall:

1.  Health

2.  Spirituality

3.  Relationships

4.  Finances

My husband and son scoffed at first, feeling silly about the relative formality to this discussion.  But then I applied some concepts that I use at work for leading meetings – namely, everyone needs to provide input, in a safe environment, where no idea is stupid.  No one gets to say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care.”

Then on each paper, we formed goals for each family member under each area (cue Sharpie markers, each of us with our preferred color).  We did this without judgment, and we did this so that we all would know what each others’ goals are, to be of support and assistance when needed or desired (think “helpy,” not “judgy.”).

Now, for those of you that aren’t familiar with goal setting, there are key elements that make a statement a GOAL.  Namely, a goal needs to be OBJECTIVE, and it needs to be MEASUREABLE.  So, my resolutions never really worked, because resolving to “eat better” is neither measureable nor is it objective.  It’s actually quite SUBJECTIVE.  Maybe “eating better” to Sara, for instance, would mean going a day without Jelly Beans (sorry, have to poke fun at her one character “flaw.”).  To me, it would mean giving up my diet soda habit.  To my husband, it might mean eating more than once or twice per day.

So, under “Health,” our list started looking like this:

Mom:

Goal:  I will improve my overall nutrition

Objectives:

1.  I will improve my nutrition by increasing my fruits and vegetables to >5     servings a day.

2.  I will restrict my Diet Coke intake to 2x per week at most.

3.  I will track my diet, with the goal of dropping 10# by July 1, 2012.

Under “Relationships” it started to look like this:

Goal:  We will improve our relationships with Grandparents.

Objectives:

  1. Dad will text or call his mom every other week.
  2. We will extend an invitation to spend time with Mom’s parents >2 times per month.
  3. Dad and Mom will dedicate time to each other with a date night approximately once every 10-14 days.

Under “Finances” it started to look like this:

Goal:  We will save money to be able to take a family vacation next January.

  1. We will restrict our eating out to no more than twice weekly
  2. We will contribute a portion of our supplemental income (from side-jobs, allowances, etc) to a vacation fund, monthly.
  3. We will ride bikes to/from school and errands at least 3 times per week.

You get the idea.  Sounds dry, and boring.

But when you take some of the emotion out of it, and look instead at what you want, it’s easier to determine the steps to get that thing you want.

Start by putting one foot in front of the other.  And as my mom likes to remind me, “just do your possibles.”  You can’t change your world overnight, but it IS possible to make the best choice you can, at that particular moment, that directs you toward your goals/objectives.  Everything is a choice.  When you can remember what your end goal is, it’s easier to make the right choice for you.

The Post-Its are still hanging in the house.  I’ve been reminded a few times that I need to schedule a date night because it’s been more than 7 days.  I’ve reminded the kids that they decided they wanted to ride their bikes to school and for errands to increase fitness and decrease costs.

I’m still battling the Diet Soda.  But with the goals and objectives staring me in the face on a daily basis, I’ve come a lot further than I ever have in this goal area.

There’s hope for me yet.

********

(“Impossible” Image borrowed from Dealer Service Academy)
 (Kris Kringle snap shot borrowed from The Barn Hollow)

 

9 thoughts on “Week 18 – Setting Goals (AKA “Putting One Foot In Front of the Other, and for Pete’s Sake, Give Yourself a Break Every Once in a While”)

  1. I’m the youngest. I’m not anal. I’m a bit competitive. I’m not addicted to jelly beans (that’s much to specific of a sugary item to tie me down). I’m thinking of busting out the giant post-its.

  2. Do you actually already own giant Post-Its that you can “bust out”?? I really thought this was more of a specialty item we’d have to go on a special mission for. . . . But I want one too. And a new set of Sharpies!

    • No, I don’t own them. Used to use them a lot in work, though. And have you seen the new color varieties of sharpies? Stellar!

  3. Well, this proves it! Every single one of you three is a talented writer! I’d read Jill’s stuff, but never Jenny’s. Man, your parents must be so proud to have raised such witty, intelligent, creative and lovely ladies! Train me, please!!!!

    • High five, is right! I’m so happy being the way I am. Middle children get a pity party sometimes, but I think the whole experience makes life easier! I like being us! 😉

  4. Witnessing greatness in action with Jenni’s comments. The more women share their great insights, honesty and practical solutions, the more we all “win”. Life is full of choices, we know that….let’s chose to learn from Jenni-if we are not putting one foot in front of the other, we are standing still or worse, sliding back…we all deserve to move forward feeling awesome!.

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