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Breaking Down

Yesterday I returned home from my week of house sitting. A friend of mine had offered to drive me home, and given how badly my back and hips were aching I was extremely grateful of the offer. Given it was a 90 minute or so drive, it was definitely going “above and beyond” the requirements of friendship.

While we were driving home we talked of a lot of things. One of the conversations – the one that seemed to take the longest portion of the journey – was about goals, and changing our lives. My friend was talking about the goals she’s set and how she’s come to realise that changing her life is a life long process. Not one that can be done in an instant, but a process that takes choices and decisions every day.

I mentioned the only goal I set for myself when I turned 40 was to “be happy”. I usually set a bunch of goals on my birthday, and frankly they’re the same ones I’ve been setting since I turned 18. This time I changed it up and set the intention of simply living a “happy” life.

When I was asked what “being happy” meant I couldn’t really describe it. So we instead we discussed the past goals and my personal feeling that goal setting was a waste of time because they never came to fruition anyway. My 5 Eternal Goals,  have always been the same. They are;

  1. Lose weight
  2. Write a novel
  3. Find a partner
  4. Clear my debt
  5. Get my own house

Shannon suggested that having large, long term goals – as mine appear to be – is useless without setting short term goals that will drive you towards achieving the ultimate goal. She asked me what my short term goal was for my weight loss. When I told her I didn’t have one, just that I wanted to lose weight, she asked how much weight I wanted to lose. What was my goal weight? I couldn’t answer. I didn’t actually have a goal weight in mind. All I knew was I just wanted to lose weight and be “skinny”.

The discussion showed me just how vaguely I live my life. None of my goals are actually broken down into steps. They’re all long term goals that have  no real end point in mind. It didn’t take a genius level IQ to realise the biggest issue I have in achieving goals is not actually knowing what will be the point where I can look back and say “goal done”.

I caught up with another friend while I was house sitting who has lost 33 kilos since my annual Boxing Day gathering. She made no big trumpet song about it. Apparently she set a goal in January about has been working towards it steadily ever since. Her goal was to lose 60 kilos in a 12 to 18 months. She’s crossed the half way point and is right on track to achieve her goal when the time arrives.

The two conversations in two days about goals, neither one generated by me, has made me wonder if the Universe is putting it’s hand directly into my life so to speak. I often envisage my guides and guardians with their head in their hands, shaking their heads and wondering what sin they’re paying for this time around by being stuck with me. But when things like this happen, even I take notice. I don’t necessarily believe in coincidence, but this was too much of a coincidence to ignore.

Last night when I finally made it home, I unpacked my bags and caught up on all the reality TV I’d recorded while I was away. Project Runway and all these people of varying ages obsessed with fashion design and chasing their dreams. Australia’s Next Top Model and it’s skinny, beautiful girls chasing a modelling contract under the guidance of Charlotte Dawson and Alex Perry. House redevelopers buying up old homes and flipping them into beautiful new homes with a future in Flip This House. Lost business owners drowning under their collapsing businesses in Tabatha Takes Over.

I make fun of reality TV. Frankly it’s an easy target, and as dreamer who wants to create a TV series, it’s a good excuse not to try. But maybe it was the mind set I was in, or maybe it was something else, but all I saw were people with goals doing whatever it took to achieve them. All the drama in reality TV seems to come from people trying to achieve. It’s easy to dismiss it as Mind Candy, but when you look at in a different context, some reality TV can be a fertile learning ground.

I’m particularly partial to Tabatha Takes Over. In the show Tabatha Coffey comes into your business – mostly hair salons – and generally kicks everyones arse out of their lazy attitudes and re-installs the managers and owners into managers and owners. It’s an interesting show and it not only entertains me, but as someone who was once a manager, it shows me where I was going wrong and through watching the mistakes of others I managed to pick up a couple of tips to employ if I ever own my own business.

So I’ve decided to look at my 5 Eternal Goals and see what I can do to break them down into smaller, more achievable goals. I’ve also decided to set an “end point” to each of them. Rather than follow the old path of vaguely wanting a “home of my own” I’m going to develop a goal road map that shows me exactly how I can get there. Rather than just say “I want to write a novel/tv show/oscar winning movie” I’m setting up a road map on the steps I need to take to actually get the idea from my head onto a kindle or channel 10 or the silver screen at the nearest cinema multiplex.

Most of my life I’ve been chasing goals I’ve got no idea about. Clearly defining what I’m actually looking for and resetting the goals in a more effective way is going to be a major part of my next weeks activities.

I guess the point to this post is nothing really happens if you’re vague about it. You have to commit to what you’re doing, whether it be clearing your debt or losing weight. Small steps, achievable goals within the bigger picture are the key. All my life I’ve gone big picture. I tend to get lost in the details so I ignore them.

In order for anything to change between now and my 50th birthday in August 2023 I need to throw out the old way of looking at things, and do what needs to be done to make goals and their achievement a positive force in my life.

To do this I’ve gone on a google spree and I found on the following article on the 6 Characteristics of Effective Goal Setting on www.sparkpeople.com and with each of my 5 Eternal Goals I’m going to use those characteristics in setting not just the long term goals but also the short term goals within each.

Let’s see what happens.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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