Am I alone in my feelings? I think not! 

Let me first say, by way of qualification, those two words:  goals and resolutions struck fear in my heart. The reason they suck is that I suck at making goals and achieving them. I have never been a fan. Goal setting means change, and like the character Garth from the movie “Wayne’s World” said, “We fear change.” That’s me. I fear change. At least the process – and the dreaded – failure.

Change is hard. It requires commitment. It’s time consuming and you don’t always reach your goals. In my life, I don’t remember setting a lot of goals and then doing the right amount of work to reach said goals. It was enough to drive me a little nuts. So in my deranged mind, I began to think – “why set goals in the first place, I’ll only fail. I’m much better off coasting through life surprised when I accomplish something I didn’t plan for?” So I have lived a lot of years NOT setting goals – so much for personal growth.

There was a Post-It note on my mother-in-law’s refrigerator. I think she left it there year after year. Or maybe she changed it on January 1st of each year. I don’t know. It said the exact same thing, “Goals for the year: Save money. Get out of debt. Lose weight.” It never varied nor were the goals ever accomplished, at least as far as I could see. So in my unhinged reasoning, I wondered why we do this to ourselves if we don’t ever plan to put in the effort and accomplish those lofty goals.

I had a goal – once.

It was a darn good goal, too! As I started to march down the path of becoming a writer, I wanted to publish a book. Well, great horned toads, I published a book in 2013. Only thing was, I didn’t have a follow up plan for my “Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night.” I didn’t realize that publishing the book was only half of a terrific goal. Getting people to read it and love it is the other half. Goals are tricky that way. One goal is just not enough – like eating Lays Potato Chips – you can’t stop with just one.

And that brings me to my thoughts on the whole goal setting and resolution making thingy. You gotta have a PLAN. Do you remember the first Jack Ryan film, “Hunt for Red October?” Loved it. When speaking about a plan to find the rascally rogue Russian submarine, Admiral Josh Painter told Jack, “The average Russky doesn’t take a dump, son, without a plan.” So neither should we – I mean – not make a plan, not the dumpy thing.

 There are as many PLANS as there are lofty goals.

I recently listened to a talk about goal setting. At first, I was ready to hit the road when I learned the topic of the speech. The speaker reminded the audience of a telling, humbling quote from Dale Carnegie, the dude who taught zillions of people courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate stuff, and interpersonal skills. The man had some serious smarts and reached some incredible heights. What he said made me stop and take a good look at myself:QuoteCarnegie
“So what do I do, Dale? Help me Obi One Kenobi, You’re my only hope.”

I dug deeper and found a great website with a PLAN. I could do this. Dale instructed people how to break down goals setting into steps; those steps represented by a letter in the actual word GOALS: 1. The GET step; 2. The ORGANIZE step; 3. The ACTION step; 4. The LIST step; 5. The SUCCESS step. One baby step at a time. No fuss no muss.


Then my book coach sent me in the direction of James Clear – entrepreneur, weightlifter, and travel photographer, and all around nice dude. He hit the screw with the drill, made me shake off the apathy and take notice. He said, “forget about setting goals. Focus on this instead.” The this is SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES. Take for instance me. I’m a writer, or at least I’m attempting to become one of some fame. Think Nora Roberts. Big goal, right? James’ advice to me is, “…your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each [day, each] week.” No unreachable, unattainable goal. No stress. No depression. And NO failure. Just every day, do something. Even if I miss a day. Move forward, don’t step back.

Next part of the PLAN – areas of focus.

My friend gave a talk in one of our church meetings. She said the five areas of our life we should focus on are:  faith, family, fitness, finances and fun. That sounded reasonable to me. What would be your five areas of focus?

She said we should be smart about how we achieve success. S.M.A.R.T. – that is. With goals that are:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive. I guess I’m going to have to kiss my goals good bye to drive a Ferrari, own Bob Hope’s mansion in Palm Springs, and have more money than Bill Gates. Unless I was SMART about it.

Finally, my PLAN should make me happy.

I never knew this. Even if I did, on a rare occasion, make a goal and achieve it, I didn’t feel it was a big deal. What was wrong with me? Then I received an invite to watch an inspirational video where the host, Marie Forleo presented “Goal Setting” with Danielle LaPorte. While watching and listening, I had a revelation. I had my “ah-ha” moment. I finally found someone who “gets it.” Goals didn’t have to suck. Danielle’s advice and insights gave me hope. It’s really NOT about the goals; it’s how you want to feel when you get them. But first, we have to discover what our core beliefs are and what we want to feel. I hope you’ll take a few minutes and listen. She changed my whole outlook.

So to end my epistle about goal-setting and resolution-making, I hope I gave you some ideas. I’m committed to understanding my feelings, and analyzing how I feel when I do accomplish something positive. One word at a time. One step after another.

I’d really like to hear about your goal setting activities. What are your goals? What are your strategies, your plans for success? What has worked for you?  


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