Gooooooooo(a)l

(There’s gotta be a rule in blogging about starting with parentheticals, but anybody else ever see soccer on the Spanish station?)

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I was just using this blog as a place to capture notes and learnings, but the problem is that I don’t really have a goal for it so it wasn’t clear what to record here & I gave up.  In fact, the bigger issue in life seems to be that I don’t really have a goal at all.  And without a goal, I don’t have much direction.  Lack of direction leads to perusing the internet in free time, which is probably one of the biggest wastes of time yet.  It was my realization of the fact that I gravitate toward the internet, not the new year that tipped this off.

I’ve come remarkably far in life without actually being able to set goals, but the truth is that I’m just not a natural goal setter.  It was pretty easy in school – the goal was always graduate (and with honors if possible).  Sub-goals were to pass each individual class, complete homework, not fail exam, etc.  But, I’m more convinced than ever that really happy, successful people not only set goals, but work hard and creatively to achieve them.  And, the few times I’ve succeeded at this I’ve been happy:

  1. I ran a half-marathon (2 actually), which for the kid whose GPA was punished by gym class was huge.
  2. I took singing lessons to learn to sing on key (but promptly stopped keeping up with music after 1.5 years).

So, now I’m out of school.  I’m married to a very special guy, have a house (which is fun to decorate), have a loving and brilliant (although emotional) dog, have a job at a silicon valley company trying to save the world, I’m fortunate to be a significant player in my company role and I have a pretty comfortable living situation.  Really, I’m very fortunate that I have fulfilled needs of life that many people seek their whole lives and I certainly don’t clamor for hardships.  I’d like to take advantage of my situation and give something back by achieving more.  In fact, according to our friend Maslow, I actually NEED to do this.

Next question: do I want this goal to apply to my career?  Or do I want it to apply to only my personal life?  I can make multiple goals, or one broad goal to cover both.

Let’s look at types of goals.  First, the worst kind of goals are vague goals (like get more involved in management) that tend to be totally unfulfilling, so none of these.  There are negative goals (don’t log into facebook ever again), but these are totally unachievable without deadline so no celebration either.  Better goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.  Since I think I’m fundamentally a little lazy, I think relevancy will be my most important aspect to define – without it my motivation will languish and I’m guaranteed failure.  This is why the third half marathon I signed up for didn’t happen – I no longer cared.

A goal that has a specific ‘outcome’ (like becoming an opera singer before I’m forty) has more value and weigh than a goal to ‘do’ something regularly (like to update this blog everyday with one thing I’ve learned).  I tend to subscribe more to the ends justifying the means rather than the other way around.  But, the ‘do’ goals lead to more clear action so you don’t end up surfing the web while pretending to make sub-goals.  Both of these categories can be SMART.  There are long term goals that don’t need a deadline, there are short-term goals that become irrelevant if not complete in a specific period of time and the ‘do’ goals must just have a time period defined.  There are ‘become’ goals (like become a professional dog trainer) and there are ‘achievement’ goals (like bike the coast of California).

So, here are some goal topics, although all of these need some refinement before being SMART.  I want to spend some time evaluating how relevant each topic is to me.

  1. Find a good goal by the end of January (seems like cheating to make choosing a goal actually a goal – what would be the steps to making this goal attainable?)
  2. Update this blog daily with something new I’ve learned
  3. Work on singing or guitar everyday
  4. Walk my dog everyday to improve personal fitness
  5. Get up twice (or even once) per week and go to yoga
  6. Make our house our own home through remodeling, decorating and improving
  7. Climb an 5.11d climb by some date
  8. Accept help graciously (again, how do I attain this one?)
  9. Get promoted within a year (still tough to attain, but I feel like career goals are the toughest to define)
  10. Refinish kitchen table by March (weather-dependent)
  11. Plant and harvest a garden
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the banner

Our dog is nuts.  I just googled this phrase and found 34,400 hits so I guess we are not alone.  Why do we all continue to get dogs who clearly drive us nuts sometimes when we could just get a cat who’s a reasonable companion but also rather content with life?  Never having owned a cat, I won’t comment on this beyond noting that Catbert must have some basis in reality.  Googling 6x the number of hits on google as the phrase above, by the way.

I wonder if the dog thinks her human is nuts.  Or perhaps she associates well with me and spotted our similarities faster than me.  She barks a lot, I talk a lot. We both love the same foods (kibbles don’t sound good to me either).  She wants to say hi to all the other dogs, I want to talk to all the other people.  We both wonder what’s going on around us.  We both need interaction.  We’re both emotionally in tune with others’ concerns – and wear our emotions (perhaps too loudly) on our sleeves.  We love hugs.  We notice those around us and can’t help but make quick conclusions about others, most of which turn out to be wrong.  We often start on the wrong foot (paw) but end up with a new best friend.

But most of all, we both love adventures and exploring.  The photo in the banner captures a rare moment when Tilley was reflecting on the path behind her, with excitement and anticipation for the rest of the journey.  Journals, like photos, are about capturing snippets of life to revisit further down the road.