The Goal Setter

Go ahead and sing the title of this post to the tune of  “The Go Getter” by the Black Keys.  And then continue to sing the whole song because it’s so awesome, because that is what was in my head as I was writing it.  I’ll wait…

So it’s the 17th of February and I have yet to make my new year’s resolutions.  Well, technically that’s not true.  I have made them, and I have even considered them, but what I have not done is write them down.  And we all know – or at least those of us in Mr. W’s karate school know – that if you don’t write down your goals, they are just ideas, and you are less likely to adhere to them, to keep them.  Mr. W suggests writing things down – in a journal, on Post-it notes around your house, etc.  And he is very persuasive.  And yet, I haven’t done it.  And it’s not because I don’t want to, and it’s not because I am not a goal-setter, it’s because I haven’t found yet the perfect media on which to record my goals, ambitions and resolutions.  No, seriously.

In the past I have kept journals – often haphazardly, but they were there.  But even the actual purchasing of a journal was always an event for me.  Perfect paper, binding, feel.  It all has to be there, people.  Or else I cannot write.  I know, it’s kind of dumb, but there it is.  And don’t even get me started on the writing instruments.  By the time I had located my mythically perfect journal or notebook and acquired the pen with the perfect weight and feel and colour of ink for the love of god I had practically sapped any desire for actual writing right out of my head.

What has helped me considerably in the past year or so, is becoming acquainted with a fantastic website and mail order stationery store called JetPens, where I can read reviews of pens, pencils and even notebooks from the comfort of my own computer, order online and have these lovelies sent right to my door.  Perhaps that sounds a bit extreme, even for a stationery freak like me, but it’s actually been really awesome.  I have even become a convert to the fountain pen, and I have about 3 or 4 on the go at any time.  I also honed my love for all things paper, and I have to say that my Rhodia 2010-2011 planner is a stunning thing of beauty.  And when I decide that a journal is what I need, I plan to hit up JetPens for ideas as well. 

But the thing is that I’m not sure a journal is the right format for my own personal goal-setting.  Largely because it’s just that – it’s personal.  And while I get that most people don’t want their resolutions and goals plastered all over the place, I can’t help thinking that if I set out my plans for the year in something that I will use – given my track record of journaling – with great intensity to begin with and then progressively more and more infrequently – that perhaps that is a sign that my goals need to be more accessible in my day-to-day life.  

So what about my blog?  Well that comes down to the personal nature of goals and resolutions.  If it’s all out there for everyone to see, there is more pressure, is there not?  Which of course keeps you honest and on track.  But what about failure?  What about having to admit that the 10 things I hoped to accomplish in 2011 went pfffft after about 6 weeks?  What then?  I know I probably shouldn’t set myself up for failure like that, but I’m the kind of girl who needs to cover all the bases with stuff like this.  Which is why I’m writing an entire freaking blog post about it too, I guess.

 So blogging my goals?  Is out for the moment. 

And then there’s my phone.  My phone is pretty fancy and it has the capability of holding memos, setting alarms and reminders and keeping me organized, and while I haven’t actually used most of those features, they are there.  And given that my phone is a true constant on a daily basis, something I carry with me pretty much everywhere, I am looking in to ways to use it for this kind of thing.  Hooray technology, right? 

So I don’t know.  I suppose I could just go the Post-it note route on my work computer or save a document on my desktop on my laptop at home that I can open up to see where I’m at.  There are goal-setting websites and software you can get as well, and there’s always a spreadsheet that can be set up.  But none of this really grabs me, you know? 

And maybe what I need to do is to organize my goals into where they fit in my life.  For example, if I have a karate-related goal, maybe I should somehow incorporate that goal into my karate gear?  Have a little pad of paper or notebook in my karate bag that I can grab before I get changed into my gi?  Or, if it’s a work-related goal, what’s stopping me from sticking a note on my computer or writing a reminder in my planner, where I’ll see it every day? 

One of the tools I use practically every day is Goodreads where I can keep track of my books, what I want to read, what I’ve read, and what my friends are reading, etc.  One of the features the site has recently launched is the 2011 Reading Challenge, where you can motivate yourself to read more by setting a goal for yourself for the coming year.  According to Goodreads, last year I read 25 books, which is ok, but not overly admirable.  So this year I set a goal to read 50 books.  Ambitious?  Maybe.  But the Kobo makes reading much more portable, so in theory I will get more reading done on the bus and at work.  So there, see?  There is a goal for me for 2011 – read more books.  And read 50 of them.  And every time I check Goodreads, there it is, my percentage of books read.  To inspire and motivate me, and to challenge me to meet or exceed my goal. 

I really think – for me anyway – that this is the future of goal-setting and sticking to those goals.  Gone are the days where one solitary list will suffice.  When you think about it, it’s less overwhelming this way.  Using the Goodreads model, when I log in I am only aware of that one goal – to read 50 books.  And using my hypothetical idea of a karate bag notebook, when I change for karate, I am only thinking about that particular goal, whatever it may be.  The “Read 50 Books” goal?  Is where it should be.  The same might go for someone who wants to spend less – maybe a note where your credit card lives in your wallet would work?  It’s all about timing, because if that lofty list of goals is tucked away someplace, how on earth are you supposed to remember it all, and remember it all the time.  I think for me it would be setting myself up for failure.  So thinking about my goals one at a time makes them that much more achievable.  I believe that.

 I think I will call it “Goal Diversification”, because just like with stocks and mutual funds and other financial terms I don’t really understand, it’s not good to have too much of one thing in particular, right?  And feel free to use it and let me know how your diversification is going.  I could be on to something, I really think I could.

 And now, after all this, I can claim that I achieved the goal of trying to organize my goals into palatable chunks.  My work – on this one thing anyway – is done.

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