Monday, January 5, 2015

I'm Getting Off the Goal Setting Band Wagon!

"To change one's mind in changing circumstances is true wisdom. "
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Every year, for the past 30 years, I've spent several days of the holiday season thinking about, writing about, and talking to my husband about goals for the coming year.  Ambitious goals.  Every year I've created elaborate plans to meet those goals. 

Not this year.  No goals, not even New Year's resolutions.  It's not that I intend to become a couch potato, simply veg out, or give up.  But events of the past few weeks have reminded me of a lesson I thought I'd learned when I had cancer, and then again when John did.  The lesson best expressed in that old saying,  "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry".   

Goals focus on the future.  They contain the promises of success, satisfaction and happiness if only we plan carefully and execute with determined diligence.  If we follow the approach of any one of a variety of goal setting gurus.  Heaven knows I've tried many,  and taught a few to coaching clients. Yet, even in my most productive of years, I've not met all my goals.  

Because life has the inconvenient habit of intervening. Competing commitments arise, new opportunities, new information,  and new relationships emerge.  Then, there's the inevitable disappointments, illness and loss.  In our lives.  In the lives of those we love. Or those we know from afar. 

So this year, I've decided to focus on one simple, over-arching objective - to do something each day to add to the quality of my life and that of those I touch.  That's it.  Right here, right now - to do what I can to be positive and engaged.  To learn and explore new interests.  To take better care of my health.  Right here, right now.  Nothing grand or elaborate.  Little things, like taking that walk when I don't feel like it, or giving John my undivided attention when he comes to share something.  Little things, like turning off the TV to read (or not turning it on in the first place.)  Little things, like sending a hand written note or card to someone with whom I've lost touch or letting someone go ahead of me in the grocery line. Little things like noticing, really noticing the desert sky at dusk or watching our little family of feral cats snuggle up to keep warm.  Those little daily things that can get too easily lost in the pursuit of some future goal. The things that build resiliency and well-being, that strengthen relationships and make a fragile existence easier to navigate.

If I hadn't come to this decision over the past few weeks, I'd like to think I would have these past two days.  If you've listened to the many analysts and sports figures share their stories and memories of Stuart Scott, the  ESPN analyst who lost his battle with cancer yesterday at the age of 49, you couldn't miss the outpouring of love and gratitude  for his acts of kindness and generosity, for his humor and love of life.  This was a man who was respected for his courage and accomplishments, but cherished and valued for who he was as a human being.  He was a man who added to the quality of life of many, many people.  

So, my best hope for this new year is that it be filled with health, love and laughter, and that come this time next year I can say it was a very good year, one of the best ever.  My hope for you is definitely the same.

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