Goals Archives

This summer we bought a new car which was a big deal for us. The car we replaced was 19 years old.

Four years ago, we pre-shopped. We knew our car was getting old and didn’t want to have to make a quick decision if it died on us. At that time, I fell in love with the Mini Cooper. And as a part of my Surfing Your Enthusiasm goal-setting process, I added it to my list of goals.

During the last 4 years, I’ve dreamt of owning a Mini. I was thrilled every time I saw one on the road and went out of my way to drive past the Mini dealership whenever I was in that part of town.

When our 19-year-old car started hemorrhaging oil, we decided it was time. We went to the Mini dealership, test drove one, and got all the details we needed to order our own custom Cooper. Then we walked out of the dealership and slept on it, and boy am I glad we did.

My husband suggested we check out some less expensive cars. At first I was disappointed. But one of the things I do with my goals is to think about what the essence of what I want is. The essence of what I wanted in our new car was something totally fun to drive. Something small and easy to zip around and park. Something well-designed. Something I loved the look of. And something I was proud of.

I also committed to myself that I wouldn’t buy anything I didn’t feel excited about. Settling for second best wasn’t an option.

There was a lot I loved about the Mini, but there were some things I wasn’t thrilled with. The backseats were tight, and I knew our parents wouldn’t be comfortable getting in and out of them. I read reviews complaining that the Mins weren’t as reliable as people would have liked. And the maintenance costs over the long run were really expensive.

One of the cars we checked out was the Honda Fit. The more I read about it, the more I fell in love with it. It was really cute. It had excellent reviews. People owned these cars for years and found them very reliable. When we test drove one, I was impressed with how well it was designed. And the back seats were super spacious for such a little car.

We ended up buying the Fit. If we had bought the Mini, I would have been settling for less than what I could have gotten. But because I knew the essence of what I wanted, I could easily see the better choice. And on top of that, the Fit was cheaper. So now we have extra funds we can spend on other things we’ve been wanting to do.

Are You Settling for Less from the Get Go?

When I was in high school and considering what I would study in college, my first choice was interior design. My second was nutrition. My art teacher brought in a young woman who had gotten a degree in interior design and had been working for a year or two. She wasn’t able to find a job actually doing interior design. Instead, she was selling furniture and was absolutely miserable. The thought of selling was horrifying to me. You can imagine how that made me feel about pursuing interior design.

There was another part of this woman’s story that made me cringe. She wasn’t able to make enough money to move out of her parents house. At 18, that seemed like the worst thing imaginable.

So I started to get discouraged about following my first choice. I did seek out colleges that offered both degrees—interior design and nutrition—in case I chose one and changed my mind.

ChoicesMy dad was convinced getting a technical degree would give me the best opportunities for financial success. With nutrition, I would study chemistry, math, and physics. It was technical. He recommended I start with nutrition because he thought if I started with interior design it would be harder for me to change from design classes to technical classes if I decided to switch over to nutrition.

The logic made sense to me so I started with my second choice. I felt torn the whole time I went to school. And I never had the courage to switch to my first choice. Of course, thinking I would never make enough money to live on my own didn’t help.

I’ve always regretted that choice. I went on to work in a technical field for most of my career. My heart was never in it. I could only tolerate staying at a job for so long before I felt miserable …How ironic is that?…and I would look for something new. I never made very much money either. Basically what I was afraid I’d get with my first choice, I actually got with my second.

The lesson I took away from that experience is to go for your first choice first! If I’ve tried my best, and it isn’t panning out, I can look to a second choice. I have used this approach in other areas of my life and have loved the results. Things don’t always turn out the way I had originally envisioned, and there are times I feel disappointment. But going for my number one choices first has brought me a lot of joy and results that many times have been better than I thought possible.

So don’t settle for choice number 2 without at least giving choice number 1 an honest try. And it doesn’t have to be just about the big things in life. It applies to those little decisions we make each day. Go for what you really want in the little things and watch you life bloom.

You may have set goals that sounded great when you wrote them down but didn’t realize that you’d actually feel guilty accomplishing them. An example is money. If you were to earn significantly more money than your family and friends, how would you respond when they commiserated about not having enough money to buy the things they wanted, things you could easily afford? Would you keep your mouth shut so no one would be jealous? Would you feel guilty that you have it and they don’t?

Woman Wear Hat On Beach

Or if your goal is to have a leisurely lifestyle on the beach, how would you respond when the people around you talked about how difficult their work life is. Would you feel a bit spoiled? Would you feel you should use your energy to make the world a better place? Would you feel you did’t have the right to lay around on the beach while others suffer? Would you fear being judged for being lazy?

One of my goals is to have 8 weeks of vacation a year. That sounds so luxurious and wonderful. This summer, during a 2-month period, we took 3 week-long vacations. I shared our fun on facebook and someone commented, “What’s up with all the vacations?”

I replied explaining that we had to take all our vacation time during those 2 months and that it was actually a hardship to be gone so much in such a short period of time, trying to balance all our responsibilities. Blah de blah, blah, blah. I felt guilty about taking that much vacation and had no idea I felt that way until I was questioned. There’s little chance I’ll accomplish my goal of having 8 weeks if I felt guilty taking three.

When you first set these goals, they sound so exciting. You may have no clue you’d feel guilty until you’re close to achieving them and start getting that sense. Or you may never know and not understand why you’re not accomplishing them.

One way to become aware of the potential of guilt is to look at people who have already achieved your goal. Do you judge wealthy people enjoying the spa as spoiled and self-centered? That’s a clue you wouldn’t feel comfortable achieving that goal.

If there are certain goals you’ve been trying to attain for a long time and feel like you’re hitting a glass ceiling, look inside and see if the potential for guilty is there. As long as it is, you’ll probably never achieve it. But if you identify the guilt and start working through those feelings, you’ll increase your chance of achieving it.


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Bother Having Goals?

So what’s the point of having goals? Wouldn’t it be nicer to just go with the flow of life and enjoy what comes, turning away those things we don’t like and taking in what we do?

That sounds so nice but when I do that, I feel lost at sea, blowing in the wind following whatever might be in front of me. When I live that way, my energy gets drained. I feel dissatisfied. And I feel like I’m wasting my life.

Whereas when I set a goal, I experienced the satisfaction of seeing my progress as I work toward it. The actions I take have meaning to me in the context of the goal. It’s very fulfilling.

Choosing to have goals doesn’t mean you can’t go with the flow of life. That’s one of the things I don’t like about traditional goal-setting. In the traditional way, you set a goal, make a plan, and put together a rigid schedule. And then you make yourself accomplish it no matter what.

When I set a goal the “Surfing Your Enthusiasm” way, I experience the flow of life like a boat with a rudder experiences the flow of a river. I set a goal and as life flows toward me, I’m clear about what’s an opportunity and what’s a distraction. When I chose those things that come my way that support my goal, I feel empowered like I’m determining the direction of my life. Just like that boat determines its direction.

Boat on the wavesWhen I moved to Albuquerque from my hometown in Chicago, I didn’t have a job. One of my goals was to find a job where I would have plenty of time to enjoy my life outside of work. In the past, I had worked in London. In England, everyone gets a minimum of 4 weeks vacation. I totally loved having that much time off and really didn’t want to go back to the American measly vacation.

Years later after returning from London, I met someone who worked at a university. There she got 5 weeks vacation. She told me many universities are like that. If I hadn’t had set a goal to have lots of time off, I probably would have thought she was lucky having that much vacation, and not seriously considered that I too could have that. But instead, I made a note to myself that working at a university would be a good way for me to achieve my goal.

As I researched job opportunities in Albuquerque, I realized the University of New Mexico was located there. That became my number one choice for where I wanted to be employed.

I did apply to other organizations. A private company offered me a job where I’d have one week of vacation the first year, then I’d go up to two. Whoop dee doo. If I hadn’t had set the goal to have lots of time off, I may have taken that first offer. But I decided to give myself more time to see if I could get a job at UNM which I did and got my 5+ weeks of vacation each year!

Do you like setting goals? Or do you avoid them? How has this affected your life? Are you happy with your results?

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