Monday, December 28, 2009

They're Not Resolutions, They're Goals

Every December, as the year winds down, I make a list of goals for the next year. These are not "resolutions," made with champagne-fueled hopes, fated to be abandoned before the empty bottles are hauled away.

They are, instead, a list of objectives that move my life along my chosen trajectory. And if I don't attain them, well, any progress in the right direction is still forward motion.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "Plans are useless, but planning is essential."

This year, the list is broken down into the following categories:

Health and Fitness
Culture and Education
This Old House
Fiction Writing

For example, here are my blog goals:

1) Continue to post Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
2) Add “My Little Town Tuesday” as a feature at least once per month.
3) Include a picture with every post.
4) Continue to visit your blog friends at least once a week.
5) Visit at least 2 new blogs per week.

As you can infer, my goals are SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound, just like they teach you in Management school.

There used to be a category called "Professional," but that seems to be something I don't care much about anymore. I like my job, and I'm happy to be employed, but I have no particular goals in that direction. Which is kind of interesting, because for years that category topped the list.

In the midst of all this planning, I talked to my two older sisters, who told me about a conversation they had with one of my nephews, whom we'll call "C."

C is a big fan of Fox News, and a strong believer in free markets and self-reliance, which, given that he's a reasonably well-educated white guy in his thirties, works pretty well for him.

Apparently, during this conversation, my name came up as someone who could have been much wealthier, had I made better decisions in my life.

When my sisters relayed this to me, I was startled. "Who ever said that was a goal in my life?"

Oh, they said, C assumes that's the primary goal in everyone's life.

Well, he's wrong.

And I've got the documentation to prove it.


  1. Amen to that! It took me a few years to work out that I'm not motivated by money, nor by getting to "the top" of some career ladder... simply because so many people assume that's what everyone wants (and that, if you're bright, you'll get there). It's only in the last couple of years that I've realised that my goals are not the same as meeting everyone else's expectations. I keep meaning to write a post about my lack of Ambition, maybe this will prompt me to get around to it...

    Anyway, your blog goals sound very solid - finding interesting new blogs is one of my personal goals at the moment, too (and I often start from your sidebar, so please keep adding in your good finds!).

  2. I think your goals are well thought out and realistic. I used to have professional goals, too. But life's too short.
    Which category does learning French fall into?
    Hugs for the NY.

  3. Great goals! I'm with you on the fitness thing for sure!

    Sorry to hear about your nephew. Sadly, there are still pockets of those kind out there who believe that greed is good. When the president's plan comes to fruition, it will be wonderful to see Fox News eradicated and the talk show goofballs interred in silence camps where they will not be allowed to ever flourish again . It does concern me that after we have stripped the greedy of their booty, and sold off all the bombers, who's going to pay for the 72 virgins on earth that we all have been promised?

  4. Health is wealth.

    Thank you Jeanne. I am setting my own goals following your categories, minus the last one.

    Happy New Year Jeanne - I pronounced it correctly :)

  5. I started out as a driven person, climbing up the ladder in a high tech company back in the 80's. Then we had Skyler, and I got my goals readjusted for me, and am much better for it.

  6. I used to tell myself that. Then I stopped believing myself. Almost you persuade me. Have agreat New Year.

  7. Ditto on Rachel...

    I also have been looking around at blogs- artful, soulful, things that speak to me, as well as inspirational...

    More poetry, yes, we need more poetry in our lives :)

    You baby, we need lots and lots of you, our raisin on wheels friend...

  8. That is very interesting and I'm probably guilty of the same thing. Projecting my values onto someone else with the assumption that everyone strives to achieve the things that are important to me. I think one of my goals for 2010 will be to continue to do my best to eliminate judgement from my thinking process, as much as possible and replace it with curiosity instead. I've been consciously trying to do this and believe it is a character trait that deserves further attention. Thanks for your insightful essay today.

  9. I loved the name of your post today. I think too many people get caught up in the hoopla surrounding New Year's Resolutions and end up leaving all those anticipated changes in the bottoms of their wine glasses once the party is over.

    You are absolutely right. Not everyone has their main goal to be wealthy. I'm right there with you!

  10. Wow. You have certainly been 'planning'. I try not to make resolutions, because I tend to break them. But after this Christmas, I need to start eating better to get rid of the ghosts of Christmas past! jiggle, jiggle.

  11. Great post, Jeanne. Reminds me to have a blog goal - will have to go away and think on that. Happy New Year!

  12. "And if I don't attain them, well, any progress in the right direction is still forward motion." That is a very wise statement and, I think, an attitude that will take you farther toward your goals than any rashly made resolution.

  13. God, I love this blog.

    One of these days, I'm gonna fly my old Beechjet 400 SN RJ - 55 ( I call her Maggie My Maggie)....I'm gonna pick up Dave King and Chef E...and we're gonna go for a ride!


  14. Such a good idea to have goals... Much more motivating than fly-by-night resolutions.

  15. I love you list for next year and how you don't look at them as resolutions, but goals moving you in the right direction.

    I think most people think money is everyone's goal in life. As an unemployed person, it would help but not at the expense of working in a position I dread. I've done that for so many years.

  16. Nice post, Jeanne

    Reading your list of goals prompted me to conjure a list of my own in my mind. By the time my mind had automatically considered writing them down it shot that idea down. Turns out, I don't like to enumerate my goals because doing so makes me feel locked into a mindset which I'd rather reserve the right to modify if I later find it to be suboptimal. In other words, I feel like codifying one's goals may have a potential side effect of leading to george-bush-ism where you continue on a less-than-ideal path much much longer than you should while being convinced that it's better to push toward the goal than to "cut and run".

    At least that's what I tell myself. And whereas there's a kernel of truth to my delusion, I think it is also true that I know that my rate of achieved goals is very low, even though my rate of progress is very good. I believe this is because I have a bit of "goal A.D.D." and get bored with goals by the time I've approached them. Whatever the reason, the fact that I do this makes writing them down far too depressing to actually do. Fear of george-bush-ism makes a handy justification.

  17. My goals are supposed to be achievable??


  18. Well hello! I bounced over here from Not That Kind of Gir's blog, of which you found via another blog... and so, here we are.

    I love that you aren't taking on "resolutions" because you're right- they're useless. I'm all about setting goals, making lists, outlining objectives rather than morphing into some weird "newly resolved" creature at the stroke of midnight. Who ever heard of such a thing anyway?

    Oh ya, Cindarella.

    Anyway, your blog is wonderful and you've found a new reader in me.


  19. Goals..I am with you on the resolutions..I have not written my goals for the year yet..I am still thinking on it. I like to visit new blogs too..Happy New Year..and got get your goals!! :)

  20. See C's head is foggy as he watches shit hole news.

    You are wonderful.


  21. How ironic. At my last management training class (where we reviewed the SMART plan) the instructor was asking everyone how long they had been at this organization. When I said 26 years he asked how many departments I had worked in. Um, just one. I could tell he was checking the 'slacker' box next to my name.
    No I haven't moved to the top or earned my MBA but I HAVE raised 2 great daughters and had time and energy to be involved in their lives. I wouldn't have it any other way.
    If only my goals were as organized as yours.

  22. That's right, sister. Your goals are entirely your own and not anybody else's business, related or not. Good luck on reaching your goals. I'm setting goals, as always, but no resolutions for me. Nope, you see me posting a resolution, you must be brave and pry my death grip of the wine bottle. 'kay?

  23. I was told rather firmly that you have 2 nephews who could be called C and he doesn't want there to be an confusion about which nephew is in your blog

  24. Ooh, I think we may have a lot in common. I used to be all about professional growth and achievement goals. Then grandbabies came along, and it helps that retirement is somewhere in sight, and now there's blogging.... So much to do, so little time! But so much more fun than work!

  25. Awesome post! I come here to get cheered up and you always make me laugh!!!

  26. Your goals are "smart" in more ways than one. Good for you! Hope you have a wonderful 2010! (and thanks for linking it up over at NGIP!)

    - Margaret

  27. Great Post. I agree with everything you said. I'm sure you will have great success in 2010 with your goals.

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