The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Yes!

In any given day, we make hundreds, maybe thousands, of decisions. We say “yes” to everything from showing up for work to taking on a new project to staying up late (or getting up early) in order to finish something that needs to be done. It is that same decision-making ability, that same determination, that same will to say YES! that is a necessary part of reaching a goal.

Last week, we talked organization, the second step in The Rainbow of Goal Realization. We broke our goal into smaller, more manageable pieces. We took an honest look at our calendars and set some deadlines. We considered our time, envisioned our pathway, and planned our route. Today we’re going to take that one step further.

Although this is the third step in the process, it really goes hand in hand with organization. All the strategizing and scheduling and organizing in the world won’t produce progress on a goal unless we commit to saying YES! to that goal.

It’s saying, “YES! I can do this.” “YES! I want to do this.” “YES! I will do this.” It’s saying YES! to showing up when we’re motivated to move and even more so on those days when we’re really not feeling it. It’s continuing to say YES! when results take longer than we hoped, when we run into obstacles, when we hit a plateau.

Of course making time for and saying YES! to this new thing may also mean saying no or not right now to an old thing. It may mean learning a different routine, changing some habits, retraining a mindset. That’s one of the hardest parts of striving for goals, but it’s also one of the biggest benefits because it forces us out of our comfort zone and into a place of growth.

The length of time between the day I said I wanted to write a novel and the day I finally said I have written one was way longer than it needed to be. It took me years because in the first many months, I wasn’t saying YES! to that goal. It was something I truly wanted to accomplish and something that, for the most part, I thought I was capable of doing. But in those early days and months and years, my YES! was more of a maybe. Or whenever I get around to it. Or someday when I don’t have other things vying for my time.

But guess what? Those whenevers and somedays don’t happen unless we consistently say YES! to making them happen. So if you want to realize your goal. If you want to see growth and change and movement in your life, then just say YES!

In my last series, The ABCs of a Purposeful WIP, I started using the phrase progress is possible. And I believe more than ever that that’s true. Progress IS possible, but we must be purposeful, we must say YES! to make it happen.

Don’t You Care About Your Eyes?

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, in the midst of the holiday shopping rush, as my husband and I hurried through the mall to get to another engagement, I was stopped by a pleasant young woman working at one of those little middle of the walkway kiosks.

Too polite to decline, I took the moisturizer sample she offered and then listened patiently as she jumped into her sales spiel. She reeled me in by commenting on how nice my skin is—a compliment I nearly choked on as my complexion has been as unruly as a stressed out adolescent’s since I was ten years old—but then she immediately snatched away any good rapport she’d built by asking me a simple question: “Don’t you care about your eyes?”

Now, more than a little annoyed, I told her we needed to go, but she kept talking, scolding me for the lines and dark circles that were the result of my apparent devil-may-care attitude, while dabbing on some magical cream that was supposed to erase the existence of both.

The situation brought forth a swift and total recall of a similar event from several years back, complete with shame and humiliation. In that instance, a gentleman who was selling some supposedly pain-free hair removal product from a booth at the state fair grabbed my hand as I walked by, raised my arm, and announced loudly to anyone within earshot that he’d just found a baby gorilla.

As it turned out, his product was in fact pain-free—as I was again too polite (or dumbstruck) to decline his request to test it on my gorilla-like arm—but his decision to compare me to a hairy primate was not. He, like the woman at the mall, like society in general sometimes, was banking on this being enough of an insecurity for me that I would throw money at him as if to say, “Yes! This part of me is not perfect, please fix it!”

Neither of them were wrong. Like anyone, there are plenty of features about myself that I do indeed loathe and that do, at times, rattle my confidence. And there are more, it seems, with each passing birthday—a new line here, a broken capillary there—and when they pop up, I am tempted by those types of sales pitches. Those claims of instantaneous improvement and remarkable reversals and astonishing alterations.

But as the days fly by, I get used to seeing that new blemish in the mirror, and I realize that just like those that came before, it has become a part of me. Not a flaw to be fixed but a badge to behold, and given the opportunity, I would go back and say that to the woman at the mall. In response to her question, I would tell her that yes, I do care about my eyes. I do care about each of those itty bitty lines that surrounds them because I earned every single one.

I earned them with every squinty-eyed smile and with every squinched up look into the beautiful bright sunshine. They are permanent proof of laughter and everlasting evidence of life. And I can’t imagine why I would ever want to erase that.

The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Organization

If you accepted my challenge in last week’s blog post (or from the Facebook video), then you are in possession of your own personal mission statement, detailing the what and why of your current goal. You’ve identified what your goal is, why you want to achieve it, and what you hope to gain by achieving it. And now you’re ready to move on to the next step in The Rainbow of Goal Realization: organization.

Although some goals can be one-time objectives that we often check off in one fell swoop, most that are centered on personal or professional growth are complex, long-term aims that are easier to achieve when broken down into multiple, smaller chunks. Doing this helps sharpens our focus and lessens the chance of overwhelm, thereby increasing the likelihood of success. This is why organization is so important.

So, using my goal of traditionally publishing my novel as an example, here are a few tips to get yourself organized and goal-oriented:

  1. Divide your larger vision into several, more digestible pieces. Being as detailed as you can, take some time to jot down and order all the necessary, smaller components that, together, will lead you to your larger goal. Since I’ve already completed my novel manuscript and compiled a list of literary agents I want to query, my next few steps include: writing a query letter, creating a synopsis, and sending my submission package to those literary agents.
  2. Take an honest look at your schedule. Decide how much time you really have to devote to this goal each day, week, or month. If you’re already swamped, that may mean working in shorter bursts and just being okay with taking a little longer than someone else might. I’m often overly optimistic about how quickly I can complete something, but I am learning to both accept and plan for my slower pace. Fortunately, when it comes to our goals, we get to set the timeline. The important thing is to focus on our own abilities and run our own race.
  3. Set a target completion date for each smaller goal. Now that you know how much dedicated attention your schedule can tolerate, you can make estimates for how much time to allow for each step and then set a completion date to aim for. As an added reminder and incentive, go ahead and pencil in these target dates on your calendar or even note them on the mission statement that you created last week.
  4. Make adjustments as necessary. Life happens and although we can’t be fully prepared for the unexpected, we can roll with it without letting it completely derail us. There also may be some necessary adjustments if your goal involves doing things you’ve never done before and therefore you’re not exactly sure how long they will take. I’ve never researched literary agents before, so the two weeks I slated for completing that task turned out to be a vast underestimation. I also had the holidays and travel and time with family to account for, so my original target date for finishing my query letter and synopsis has been amended to February 7, pushing my first round of agent submissions to February 10. The bottom line is we need to be okay with losing a little momentum because of things that are out of our control, but not okay with losing it completely. It may take some time, but it is possible to find that sweet spot between flexibility and firmness.

Most goals are more like marathons than sprints. You don’t reach the finish line without preparation. It takes organization and planning and really even a little training (or retraining) as committing ourselves to complete a goal often requires the formation of new habits and new mindsets.

So my challenge for you this week is to again find some quiet time and get yourself organized, get a plan in place, and get yourself one step closer to realizing your goal.

Don’t Let The Old Man In

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Recently, I was introduced to a song I’ve never heard from a movie I’ve never seen. The movie was The Mule and the song was Don’t Let The Old Man In by Toby Keith. Though I still haven’t seen the movie, I have listened to the song several times. I’ve watched the music video (which is, I assume, a compilation of clips from the movie) and Googled the lyrics.

Due to copyright laws, I won’t quote the exact words here, but there’s a line in the song that basically encourages us to think about how old we might be if we didn’t know how old we actually were. As a writer, I am in awe of those who can craft these magnificently thought-provoking phrases. Those who can pump so much significance into so few words. It’s boggling, it’s mind-bending, and since learning of the song, I haven’t stopped pondering its meaning.

How old would I be if I didn’t know my actual age?

Granted, growing older generally brings with it additional challenges and responsibilities that we don’t experience as youngsters. And certainly, aging bones and muscles and joints are quicker to remind us of our physical limitations. But obligations and physical changes aside, is aging as much a mindset as it is living a number of years? And if that’s the case, would we approach it differently if we were unaware of that number?

I like to think that not knowing my age would, by default, free me from the weight of expectation based on that age—how I should be spending my time, what life stage I should be in, what I should have accomplished by now, etc.

And without that added pressure and anxiety, I also like to think that I would be able to create more freely, sing more loudly, dance more confidently, and laugh more often.

I would throw on a swimsuit without concern of the state of my skin or muscle tone.

I would eat ice cream with reckless abandon (and without counting the calories).

I would play more and worry less.

I would go sledding and build snowmen and run through sprinklers and marvel over the beauty of God’s creations.

I would love compassionately, give generously, and live wholeheartedly.

I could go on and on adding things to this list, but I don’t think I need to. I think I have my answer. If I didn’t know my actual age, apparently I would be about eight years old.

How old would you be?

The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Reason

Let’s talk about goals. Do you set them? Struggle to set them? Avoid setting them? Maybe you’re like me and setting them is the easy part, and it’s the follow through that often trips you up. Or maybe you don’t even bother because there never seems to be enough time in the day for such things.

Wherever you stand on the goal-setting front, I’m here to tell you that in the last year and a half I have come to know just how important goals are. Not only do they give us direction, but they create opportunities for intentionality and produce a sense of purpose. And when we achieve them, we are rewarded with feelings of accomplishment, boosted confidence, and an increased knowledge of our capabilities, which gives us the courage to reach toward another goal.

But again, it’s that achievement part that’s tough. I struggled for years to move past setting (and failing to meet) writing goals, to frequently surpassing them. How did I do it? If you had asked me then, I would have fired off a bulleted list of self-improvement topics that look a lot like those I discussed during The ABCs of a Purposeful WIP series. Accountability, consistency, faith, etc.

As I’ve thought about it further, though, I’ve recognized my own pathway toward reaching my goals has been as simple as following the rainbow. The Rainbow of Goal Realization, that is. Last week I introduced you to the seven steps involved (employing the colors of the rainbow mnemonic device Roy G. Biv): reason, organization, yes, go, become, inspire, victory.

Today, we’re going to take that first step. Today, we are going to define our reason for wanting to achieve this particular goal. Our reason, or our WHY, will serve as an important reminder throughout this entire process. It’s the motivation that will propel us forward when we hit a roadblock, pick us up when we fall, and get us back on track when we lose our way.

To figure out your reason (if you don’t already know what it is), here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure your reason is indeed yours. Doing something because someone else wants you to or thinks you should (or even because he/she thinks you can’t) will not generally provide enough incentive to see a goal through to fruition. Goals based on someone else’s opinions or desires can create feelings of bitterness and resentment, and while those types of emotions can provide fuel for a time, they often don’t last for the long haul. So find a quiet moment or two and really listen to what that little inner, super honest voice is telling you about this goal. If your heart isn’t in it, if the desire to go after it doesn’t belong to you, it might be wise to consider a different aim.
  2. Transform your reason into a mission statement. This statement is really just a short sentence that identifies: what your goal is, why you want to achieve it, and what you hope to gain by achieving it.
  3. Write down your mission statement. We humans are forgetful creatures and we often need all the help we get can to remember what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. If you’re comfortable doing so, sharing your mission statement with others who are encouraging and supportive of your goal, will also add a level of accountability. If not, simply posting it someplace that’s private but where you will see it every day can be enough to keep it on the forefront of your mind.

As an example, I have two long-term-ish goals that I am working toward in 2020. One is personal, one is professional. My professional goal is to traditionally publish my novel. My personal goal is to simplify my life of extraneous physical and mental clutter. I have developed two separate mission statements for each goal:

I am working toward traditional publication for my novel because words are important to me and by sharing mine I hope to add joy and inspiration to the lives of those who read them.

I am removing the unnecessariness from my life because it is through simplicity that I will create space for stillness in order to hear God’s guidance for where I may be of service.

Those are my mission statements for my current goals. What is/are yours? My challenge to you this week is to take some time to figure it out. Define your reason and create your mission statement. Bravely and boldly take that first step toward realizing your goal.