"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat."
Today is Friday, February 22, 2013. My topic is goal-setting in order to get where you want to go.
The Cheshire Cat knew what he was talking about. In order to know what road to take, you have to know where you want to go, and that means setting a goal. I've already got a goal for this blog: to write something each and every day for a year.
When I was teaching, educators were starting to use S.M.A.R.T. goals. We'd actually done these before without calling them that, but we found that it's easy to make a great-sounding goal but totally miss one of the important characteristics. So... let's see if my goal meets the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines.
Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
My goal is specific to this blog. I am to write something every day. I guess I haven't specified what to write about, but that's why I chose the title, "Random Thoughts" for this blog. It will be random. However, last night I hit upon a thought - to use a quote from a beloved story at the top of each blog entry. For some reason, these quotes have a way of helping me think about what to write. In fact, I'm re-reading Alice in Wonderland to get more quotes. It occurred to me that this story is one of those archetypal stories that describes some people's lives, a kind of "hero's journey." Another story that I love is The Wizard of Oz. I'll work with quotes from Alice for a while, and when I've come to the end of good quotes there, it will be on to Oz for me. After that, who knows? I'll definitely do some thinking about that. For now, my specific goal is to write something based on a quote from a story that I have come to love.
Measurable: well, yes, if I can count 365 entries by February 21, 2014, then I will have met my goal.
Achievable: yes, I think so. I am certainly capable of doing this. I have the time, now that I'm retired. One of the things that I never really got the hang of, while I was working, was structuring my free time. No matter where I was teaching, whether it was in a public school or at Berlitz, my work was time-bound, and I lived by the bell. When I worked in public school, I often had a job during the summer, for at least part of the time. I did learn to make short-term goals for the summer, such as getting my yearly doctor appointments out of the way, deep-cleaning my apartment, reading a certain number of books (including a number of specific titles that I had saved for summer), seeing certain movies (even if it meant getting the DVD because I missed seeing it on the screen), and socializing with friends. That last goal probably seems strange to people outside of education. While I did usually do two or three purely social activities during the ten months of school (ten, not nine, because I was a teacher, not a student!), my friends and I just never had the time to just hang out and chat, with no time constraints. Summer vacation was the only time we could do that. At the start of every summer break, I would make a list of people I wanted to spend time with, and contact them all to arrange a time to meet. Some of them had summer jobs or attended summer school classes to work toward an advanced degree. Many of them were planning to go out of town on vacation, and since we were in Minnesota, a fair number of people would go "up to the lake" for an extended stay. It usually took the whole summer to cross off every name on my list. I got a lot of satisfaction, over the years, in being able to do every single thing on my "summer to do list" by the time school started.
The problem, though, is that, on a daily basis, I have never had to structure my own time. I've heard writers say that they had to force themselves to write for a certain amount of time or between certain times of day, and that may be a discipline I will need to work on. For now, if I can carve out a little time each day to get in a blog entry, I will be satisfied. I'm writing this a I drink my morning coffee, except that it's not really "morning," because I got up at noon. Maybe I should be more specific, though, about the time I spend on this thing. OK, so I'll devote at least two hours to this project per day, and I'll get it done right away as soon as I get up - whenever that is. It will be nice to have a goal again that I can feel good about achieving. One of the big things that's been missing in my life now that I'm retired is having goals on a daily basis. I'm starting to do that a bit more now. My other goals for today are to get my laundry done, finish reading Alice in Wonderland, and finish one other book that I promised to summarize for a group of people I'll be meeting with tomorrow.
The next characteristic is "relevant." As I transition from being a teacher to being a writer, this blog is totally relevant. The goal is to write, and keep writing, constantly. When I'm not writing, the goal is to continually think about new topics to write about. I have a file that I started with quotes and topics for the next couple of weeks, and I'll expand on that. As I said earlier, I'm re-reading Alice in Wonderland, and I will re-read The Wizard of Oz, as well. Meanwhile, I'll be looking for some other story that I might get some good quotes from. I just thought of two authors whose work I might quote: Dr. Seuss and Arnold Lobel. If I extend this blog into next year, maybe I'll quote other types of books that I've read and loved.
Last characteristic: "time bound." The deadline for this particular goal is February 21, 2014, and I will have made 365 entries, one for each day of the year, based on a quote from a book.
But that's only one goal. I will have to formulate some other short-term and long-term goals in order to fill my life again, now that I'm retired. Bear with me - this will take some time. :-)