I Wish…

You’re in for a big surprise if you’ve been reading my blog lately:  This post is NOT about teaching!  🙂


This post is about goals.  I am not good at setting goals.  Life feels better when I can live in the moment, appreciate what I have right now.  Life feels pretty bad when I fail to accomplish a goal, so I usually just don’t do it.

But then I think about the few goals I’ve set and reached.  I finished my masters in two years, while working full-time, without accruing any more debt to pay for it.  Goal accomplished, and it felt great!

A few years ago I set a goal to run my first 5K.  My goal was to run the whole 3.1 miles.  Goal accomplished, it felt great, and it changed my opinion about whether or not “someone like me” (very, very NOT athletic, with no experience playing sports or anything like that, hated P.E., I can go on and on…) can be a runner!

As a high schooler, I set a goal to be accepted for the All-State music festival at least once in my four years of auditioning.  I did it twice.

So…what about the unsuccessful goals?  What was different?  The fact is, you are not going to accomplish every goal you set.  Life happens, and things can change after you set a goal.  You can set a goal that isn’t realistic or achievable.  You can set a goal without thinking about what you need to do along the way to accomplish it.  All three of those things have characterized my own failed goals, but none more so than the last.

I fail to make the difference between a goal and a wish.  A wish is something that I hope will happen, but I have little or no control over achieving it.  A goal is articulating what I hope will happen with the purpose of taking action to achieve it.  There is a little part of me that likes NOT having control, because then I have no guilt.  “It is not my fault.”  So I “set a goal,” but I think of it more like a wish.  “I wish to weigh ____ by my next birthday.”  “I wish to be debt-free by this certain date.”  “I wish to run a half-marathon someday.”  And then I do absolutely NOTHING to reach this goal, because it’s not really a goal.

To make it a goal, I need to think, BEFORE settling on a goal or an end date, what needs to be done in between, to get there.  Because really, you’re not just setting an end goal.  You’re setting a goal to do all the in-between stuff, too.  To be debt-free, for example, you need to:  1. Stop acruing more debt.  2. Make financial decisiong that assure you won’t need more debt in the future, for example, a nice amount of savings for those unexpected things that make you get into debt.  3. Pay off the current debt.  So you are also setting a goal to handle your money a certain way, each month.  And when you look at what you can ACTUALLY do, month after month, with your own paycheck, only then can you decide an end date.  Furthermore, when you think about the actual work it takes to get there, you can decide if this is a goal you want to pursue, or just a fleeting wish that you want to let go of.

Here is another way to think about it:  If I want X, then I have to live like I already have X.  If I want to be debt-free, then I have to live, everyday, like I don’t do debt.  If I want to weigh ___, then I have to live, everyday, like someone who weighs ___.  If I want to run a half-marathon, then I have to live, every day, like a runner.

I wanted a masters degree.  So every day, I went to class after work and did research and projects late into the night.  Every weekend, I spent tons of time working on my projects and research.  I lived like a grad student.  It sounds so obvious.

I wanted to run a 5K.  So every week, I went for several runs.  I lived like a runner.  It sounds so obvious.

I wanted to be an All-Stater.  So every day, I practiced.  A lot.  I went to my lessons.  I played in front of my friends, to get my nerves out before my audition.  I lived like an All-Stater.  I was a teenager, so this one is very different than a grown-up goal, but still, a lot of hard work.  It sounds so obvious.

You have to do the work.  And to do the work, you have to know what the work is.

photo credit: Josh Kenzer via photopin cc
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. savvyblurb
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 01:12:36

    Outstanding piece of writing. Thank you for doing this!


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