Monday, December 21, 2009

The Mother of All Goals

We are rapidly approaching the time for New Year's Resolutions.  I don't go all out and resolve to loose fifty pounds or workout everyday or read Kafka or apply to medical school.  Been there, done that.  All those are good things, but now I use the New Year time more as an opportunity to recheck and realign my plan.  What worked this year? What didn't work this year?  Is my plan getting me closer to the Mother of All Goals.

What, you ask, is the MAG?  I'm so glad you asked.  It is to be the Captain of My Day.  Or Major.  Or Rear Admiral.  What-have-you.  I want the financial freedom to spend my day drinking spiced rum and watching Battlestar Galactica reruns.  Or spend five hours a day training for the synchronized knitting trials (I'll beat those damn Kenyans).  Or learning to speak proper English.  You get the picture. 

Hopefully, I will use my freedom for something worthwhile.  Maybe not.  Either way, I will be the one who decides.  Now, pass me the rum and frak off.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Love the Goal You’re With

A major factor in goal-setting success is the suppression of competing activities. I had a major Competing Activity flare up this last week. I got into my head that I was going to learn how to design websites. That is all fine and good. Only thing is, I have a Major test on Wednesday. This test is an integral part of a critical goal. It is, however, the middle. The most boring part of any goal arc. The middle miles, ick.

The beginning is so full of promise and planning. The end is blooming with victory. The middle is, well, the middle. If I am going to drop the ball, this is the place. I become obsessed with some new fangled idea. It is the best idea I've ever had. It is all I can think about. And then I'm off in another direction, my original goal left high and dry. Or, I get engrossed in novel after novel. I start reading like a starving man eats. Luckily, I've learned to catch myself. When I start spending an unusual amount of time thinking about something unrelated to my goals, I ask myself what I am avoiding. I'm getting better and better at catching my self-sabotage in the early stages.

Moral of the story - If you can't be with the goal you love, love the goal you're with.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Epic Win

On a lighter note, this is a fine example of setting a goal and achieving it. These two guys wanted to make an epic commercial about this mobile home liquidator in Cullman, AL. I say they did.

Just remember, walking and pointing is epic.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hell or High Water

The Hell or High Water Goal: a planned course of action that is adhered to, with complete commitment, no matter what the circumstances.

I began to employ my first Hell or High Water Goal seven years ago. That is when I was dark, moody, quick to anger, and sharp-tongued every day. I didn't like myself very much. I read somewhere that you should find someone that acts like they feel like you want to feel, and act like they do. The author (I can't remember who it was now) said that at first you will feel stupid and phony and people will probably make fun of you. Then something magical happens. Somewhere along the line, you actually begin feeling the way you act.

There was a manager where I worked that acted like he felt like a million bucks every day. Every day he came to work, he had a giant smile on his face. He would slap people on the back and tell them how glad he was to see them. He gave his very best effort at every single thing he did. He was always saying things like, "I'm taking it up a notch, baby." On a scale of 1 to 10 on the cheery scale, he was an 11. My coworkers would roll their eyes at his corniness, but whenever he walked into the room, the mood was elevated significantly.

I thought to myself, I want to feel like a million bucks. So, I tried an experiment. I decided to act just like my manager. I was very theatrical. I walked in all smiles the next day. I complimented every single person I encountered and told them how happy I was to see them. I also did the best job I could do. At first, he thought I was making fun of him. He cocked an eyebrow at me. "I'm upping my game, baby!" I shouted and then high-fived him. I continued to grin like an idiot for the rest of my shift.

Then I went home and got drunk. I was exhausted from the sheer effort of being cheery. I, grudgingly, admitted, though, that it had been kind of fun. So, I tried it again the next day. I got the same weird looks from my coworkers. However, the second day was easier than the first. When I got home, I didn't put my smile away with my uniform. I kept it on for a while and said some nice things to my roommate. By the third day, I realized that while this new attitude still wasn't coming naturally to me, I was enjoying it. I made a decision then and there. Come hell or high water, I was going to have a great attitude at work. Even if it killed me.

Some amazing things started to happen. I went from being a background employee to one that the managers looked to for input. My customers started responding to me in a new way. I began to make friends with some of them and seeing them after work. One of my coworkers, whose bright demeanor clashed with my earlier dark sarcasm, invited me to go with her to a poetry workshop. I found that I enjoyed it immeasurably. I stopped having to work so hard at my cheeriness and found that I wasn't just acting happy anymore. I was starting to actually BE happy.

Now, that's successful goal-setting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Believing in Magic

The beloved Wikipedia defines Magic the following way:
Magic, sometimes known as sorcery, is the practice of consciousness manipulation and/or autosuggestion to achieve a desired result, usually by techniques described in various conceptual systems. The practice is often influenced by ideas of religion, mysticism, occultism, science, and psychology.

I would like to discuss that first part. Okay, not the sorcery part, but the next one. Where it defines magic as “the practice of consciousness manipulation and/or autosuggestion to achieve a desired result….” Consciousness manipulation, hmmm.

Consciousness=Thinking Manipulation=Exerting Control or Influence

So, another way to say that - magic is the practice of exerting control or influence over ones own thinking to achieve a desired result. That is how I describe goal-setting. There is magic power in intent, especially if it is written. My father says that if you don’t want something to come about, you better not write it down. He is absolutely right. I believe you must exercise great care when setting goals. In other words, be careful what you wish for.

When I turned thirty, I set in motion a series of goals. My main intent was to be a busy, self-employed person. Self-employed, because I was tired of working for other people. Busy, because I thought that would mean I was getting a lot done. Three years later, my husband and I owned a house painting company. I was successful…and busy. My husband and I worked in excess of eighty hours a week. We got to spend a lot of time together. That was great. We had no life, though. That wasn’t great.

Fast forward two years, we were rated a five-star company by a nationally recognized organization and had a long list of happy clients. We had achieved the goals we had set for ourselves. The only problem was that we weren’t happy. We didn’t get to spend enough time with our little girl and the business was dominating our lives. We sat down and decided that we wanted to do something else with our lives. Well, our circumstances immediately responded to the new influence on our thinking. In retrospect, we should have re-defined our goals instead of abandoning them. Within two months, our company was in ruins. We had a series of absurd calamities that left everything we had worked so hard for in ashes. It really was that fast. That has been my experience in general. If I put the passion into my goal (or anti-goal), everything in my life pivots on that.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a sad story. This was a major course correction. The slate was cleaned and now we could start again. We had not set goals that were in line with our dreams. Both my husband and I had thought that our dreams were completely out of our reach. So, we had set “realistic” goals of material success. We weren’t going to make that mistake, again. We had seen the power of our goals and intent. We were about to put them to good use.

In my next post, I will begin to explain the process we’ve used to get such dramatic results from our goal-setting.
Just be careful what you wish for.


My name is April and I am a perfectionist. Perfectionism is a great and horrible thing. One the one hand it can drive you to succeed where others would give up. On the other hand, it can prevent you from even beginning a task because you know that said task cannot be completed to your own high standards, or because the thought of all the work it would take to complete said task to your own high standards seems overwhelming.

There is nothing like the feeling that comes from having created something that feels right (perfect). For example, I bought a group of pictures and arranged them in a frame. Then I rearranged them. Then I rearranged them again. Then I rearranged them again. This went on for quite some time. I couldn't get that perfect feel. I knew that there was some arrangement of these pictures that would bring all of the elements together in the best way. I, finally, brought in a second pair of eyes (a big step forward for me) and together my husband and I moved the pictures around a little more. At last, I had just the composition that I wanted. My husband hung that frame on the wall (in just the right spot, bless his heart) and now every time that I look at it, I get a little rush of satisfaction. And that is how it goes when it works out. Sometimes though, that feeling of perfection is just out of reach and now matter how hard I keep trying and trying, I can't get it just right. Sometimes, I can get stuck chasing that perfection and loose sight of the bigger picture. But, when I reach that place where everything comes together…bliss.

I have a complex set of goals charting out where I want to go the next few years. This project is integral to one of the legs of my ambition. If I get bogged down in perfection, there is no way I can achieve what I want to do in a reasonable time frame. I've started this blog several times and then torn it apart again. Today I have decided to try another strategy. I will become, on these pages, the Anti-Perfect. I'm going to start on this part of my goal. I will let the chips fall where they may. Okay, I will probably stack them in neat little piles, but I will not pick them up. You can consider my run-on sentences and eye-hurting grammar as an exercise in letting go.