“Our achievements grow according to the size of our dreams and the degree to which we are in touch with our mission.” Keith Ferrazzi
I love January, it’s a time when we relax, make plans, set things in order and make new goals. At least that is what I do. In January of 2010 I made it my goal to write 5 mornings a week and to post a blog every Sunday. I succeeded. There were other goals as well, things I did not succeed in; these ones got carried forward to this year’s page and I hope that a year from now I will be able to say they were accomplished as well. I won’t tell you what they are just now because I read this post and it made me think twice about it.
I like setting goals; it comes fairly naturally to me. I am not sure if that’s a ‘teacher thing’? Everything we do with the children has a desired outcome, indicators as to how we will know if the thing has been achieved, there’s a whole lot of cross referencing that we do all the time. We examine the scope and sequence of things, looking for overlaps, reviewing the best order for getting things done. Back in the days of teacher’s college, everything was about long-term and short-term objectives and evaluation; so I guess, after a while it gets into your psyche and goals are second nature. A little bit like breathing.
Maybe it isn’t the setting of goals that is hard. We can all write lists and cross things off as you get things done but it’s more important to know where you are going isn’t it? I was processing this thought this morning, debating it with myself whether it was more important to know the dream or to know the steps to get there. The dream can be aloof and far off if there are no steps, or if we think it can’t be done. Yet if there is no dream maybe you just exist, maybe life slips by without you ever accomplishing anything? On the other hand if you project too far into the future can you really enjoy the moment you are in? What do you think? I am genuinely interested to know.
Maybe part of success is having someone to follow? As a Christian I am eager to find God’s will for my life. Maybe you are not a Christian but maybe you have someone you look up to and admire, someone you want to follow? Even that can be hard. Often the people who lead us are not so good at showing the way. I think for the disciples that even following Jesus was tricky at times.
“Thomas said to him, Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” John 14:3
I love characters like Thomas. They are the ones who dare to say the things we are all thinking. To ask the questions we are afraid to ask for fear of looking foolish. Have you ever been in a conversation where you just nod and smile like you know exactly what the other person is talking about but really you have no idea? I can’t fake it anymore. I think I have gotten beyond the point of caring that people might think I am foolish for not knowing. Isn’t it better just to say you don’t know and ask them to explain?
I want to go somewhere. I want to find the path that has been set for me, to discover the purpose for my life. I figure I am going to have to ask a whole lot of questions to get there and to risk looking foolish sometimes. Poor Thomas, even the answer Jesus gave him was cryptic. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It isn’t completely clear is it?
Another reason I really like Thomas is because he didn’t just conform because everyone else did. He had the courage to do it his way, not just follow the pack. I like people who are brave enough to take risks and stand on their own for what they believe. It isn’t always the right thing to do. Sometimes this attitude will get you in a whole lot of trouble. It’s easier to be ‘cookie cutter,’ to blend with the pack, to go with the flow but maybe you don’t get what you want in life by playing it safe.
I was making icing for cupcakes and as I sifted the icing sugar I watched the lumps that danced up and down avoiding the holes in the mesh for as long as possible. I wondered to myself if that was how God sees me. No matter how I bashed against the side of the sifter those lumps did not dislodge; they resisted conformity right to the very end, when every other grain of sugar had gone willingly through the wire. I talked to God about this because in the case of the sugar lumps I had two choices. I could either discard them or crush them in my fingers and dissolve them with the rest of the ingredients.
I thought about the effects my daughter’s cancer has had on my life. I know that in some ways I have changed as a result. My prayer is that I have become resilient but I know there is potential for me to become hard. I don’t want to be hard or defensive or unapproachable. I want to be light.
I discussed this with Emma. We were talking about photography and she said photography was wonderful because it was all about light. I said how I didn’t get it. I love to set up frames and capture what I see but years ago when I did a photography course I was completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t get my head around all the terminology, it seemed so mathematical knowing how to calibrate the f-numbers to get the correct aperture. I could never remember whether it was the higher or lower numbers that let in more light and in the end I just gave up and let the automatic settings on the camera do their job.
There’s a fine line between letting go and plowing forward. It’s a bit like that old fashioned prayer about God granting you the serenity to accept the things you can’t change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
I’m learning that my annual goals need to be broken up into bite size chunks, so now in my journal I write about one of the goals and a step I will accomplish that day. I also decided to look at the year, a month at a time, and make monthly goals, like stepping stones.
In January I decided I would:
Swim or walk everyday
Journal 6 days a week
Enrol for two subjects at uni
Buy a new Bible and read it every day
Join The Red Cross and give blood
Re-enrol at Toastmasters and book in to speak
What about you? What do you think about goal setting?