Convincing Others to Set Goals

Ever met someone who doesn’t set goals? Here’s a couple answers for common reasons people give for not setting goals.


DirectionI’m a vision seeking, goal setting, to-do list making person. I suspect you are too.

However, it’s likely that you run into people in your daily life who could care less about setting goals.  It’s also likely that you may manage some of them, or perhaps, be tasked with converting them to goal setting.  The horror!

How can you go about convincing others to set goals?

Here are some common excuses I’ve heard, and ways to work around these road blocks.

Every time I set goals, I fail!

Lots of people set goals… many of them on January first.  Others set department goals in response to initiatives from management.  Both of these sets of goals are often unrealistic, quickly lost in the daily to-do lists, or require a lot of metaphorical moving parts that don’t exist at hand.  Unsurprisingly, these goals fail because of lack of planning and so many things outside the goal-setter’s ability to control.

If this is the reason you hear for someone’s lack of goals setting, you need to help them assess why that goal didn’t work, and get their confidence back.  Ask questions such as:

Was the goal you set realistic? Did you have the time and money to accomplish the goal, or was it a stretch? Did it require other people who didn’t have time to dedicate to the project?  Was the goal in line with your overall priorities for the year?

One goal I had for this year was to run a half-marathon, and I was hoping to do it in May.  However this goal directly conflicted with my volunteering goals, and goal to get a job.  I used my free time to pursue those goals, rather than run.  Therefore I “failed” in respect to my half-marathon goal.  I didn’t take a moment to assess how much free time I had, sometime simply assessing resources will help people set realistic goals.

I already have a to-do list.

Yep, me too.

Let’s go back to that first sentence “Vision seeking, goal setting, to-do list making”  I’m surprised how often people mix up those three items, but they are absolutely not the same thing. Your goals are not another to-do list, and furthermore your goals should flow from your vision.  Vision is focused, and it starts at the top.  It’s the 50,000 foot view, not the street view.  When you decide where you’re going to go, it means you can’t see travel down all the side streets.

I hate that.

With every cell in my body I want to be able to do all the things I like to do, read all the books, see all the friends, run all the races, write all the blog posts.

But a vision means that you have a place you’re going.

Here’s the good news.

Having a vision means your to-do list can get shorter.

Why is that? Because it becomes easier to stop adding things to your list and life that don’t matter.  You stop getting so attached to projects that don’t contribute to your bottom line, or your overall success.  It becomes easier to look at other people who are doing those things and say “It’s great that they can do that, but it doesn’t contribute to my happiness or my plan.”

If this is the reason someone gives you, ask them questions that get at the types of items on their to do list.  Ask: Are these tasks contributing to your overall success?  Who sets your to-do list?

I don’t have time to set goals.

Imagine you’re heading from Salem, Massachusetts to San Diego, California, and you have a timeline of a week to travel there. So you set out on your bike. By the end of the first day you realize, “There’s a long way to go, and I’m not even close to meeting my first deadline. I better work harder.”  It doesn’t matter how hard you work pedaling that bicycle, you will not make it to California in a week.  Google maps estimates that it’ll take you 269 hours, and there’s only 168 hours in a week!

A lot of times people think there’s not time to set goals, then set out on their bike to make a cross-country trip.  But, taking a look at the vision, and then assessing the methods you’ll use to achieve them is crucial.  Instead of using a bicycle – try a car, or a plane!  Suddenly you’ll find a lot more time in your schedule, once you’ve assessed the methods for tackling your to do lists.

Setting intentional goals save time because you can properly assess your resources, build your team, and cut out the side trips, and finally, picking the appropriate vehicle to travel in.

The next time you run into people who are skeptical about goal setting, figure out the why behind their excuses, and then set them straight.  Gently.

30 by 30 Update

I am 127 days into my 30 before 30 List.  Of those 30, I’ve done one item, and I’m in the middle of 8.

I’ve also decided to face reality that (as usual) I live in the ‘unreality’ known as the land of “bite off more than you can chew.”  To be honest, it’s actually kind of nice living here, when you look back and see all that you were able to accomplish by just believing you should be getting more done. More on the pressures of overachieving another day. Ha.

As written 3 of my goals are totally impossible, and honestly, 2 are ultimately out of my control.  I’ll have to edit this list if I want to be serious about it. Do I?

Why am I doing a 30 before 30 list?

I’m doing this project because…

it’s what bloggers do! In my mind that’s a legitimate reason.  Even though over the last two years I’ve stopped blogging more than two to four times a month, some part of me still identifies with the title “blogger.”  I’ve come to realize most bloggers identify as list-writers more strongly than the general public. Bloggers make lists and do them.

to stretch myself. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams on that list.  Getting a job is somewhat out of my control – but the individual components of it, like writing cover letters, networking, practicing interviewing, and actually applying to jobs aren’t.

to affirm that experiences matter.  Experiences and knowledge are more important than things.  That’s why my list is heavy with items I want to do with friends, or that cause me to recollect fondly on the things that I’ve done in the past.

So, yes. I’m still working on this list – even though I had to edit some of the items to make them a reality.

Also I’m updating my progress on the facebook page for this blog more often than I do here.

30by30 updates


The types of books I think about writing

I think almost everyone has a book idea or two in the back of their brain.  It’s the rare person I find who doesn’t have something they’d like to communicate in  longform – whether it’s in words, pictures, or recipes.

Although I had to wade through years of psychological ennui to admit (aloud) that I only think about writing non-fiction, the times – friends – are changing in this regard.  Of course there’s been William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” for several decades now, pointing in the direction of beautiful non-fiction writers, but it was somewhat subversive.  Now there’s the stamping and marching feet of the Common Core school standards which are sweeping children along to read more (as they so dryly dub them) “informational texts.”

I dream of writing books, but never fiction.

The types of books I think about writing:

– A year-long project, where the reader is pulled into my escapades as I oh – work on organic farms in England, or attempt to break into a totally new career field, or cook all of Julia Child’s recipes. (Wait… you say that’s been done already?)

– A book which posits a third way between two accepted ways of thinking for example – such as the foolish working/non-working mother debate.

– The type of popular psychology books I adore reading, explaining common concepts in a readable format.  Think of Sam Gosling’s Snoop, or Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

There is no Accidental Excellence

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
– Aristotle

I’ve been thinking on this quote for a few days now – especially as it relates to what I thought I wanted to accomplish this year.

Oh, I wanted to accomplish so much!  But once again, I wanted to do it in breadth rather than depth – and every day the longer I live, as much as the media, this modern life, technology like the internet, and oh so many others scream at me to try out breadth – join this new social media tool!  Post more content!  Post everywhere all the time on all the platforms!!!

I can’t keep it up very long.  Inevitably I fall flat down on my face. We hold up “having it all” as though that were really some big good great kind of thing.  But I don’t think it is.

I also don’t think there are enough hours in the day to do everything you want, and especially not to do it all well. You must decide to want less, and do less.  And that’s hard – very hard.

2013 – As Usual the year started with a List of “To-Dos”

2012 – You were good to us.

Overall, the road was slow and steady, a plodding foot followed by another month after month.  There was joy and beauty in the small things, and for that, I was very grateful.  After all –  in 2011 we were homeless, jobless, changing directions, and sleepless.  So, in 2012 it was a great good thing to welcome all of those items (homes, jobs, purpose, and sleep) back into our life in abundance, mostly.


I settled into this new role as a parent, started grad school, got more involved in my church, started a new blog with friends, and took up running again just to mention a few highlights.

There were a lot of things to list on our Thanksgiving Tree this year.

As I already said in this post – I don’t intend to post as much at All Growing Up this year as I did last year (102 posts!).  I can’t speak for other bloggers – but I am always baffled by how much time it takes to craft and create a post I’m really proud of.  It’s days of ruminating on an idea, then a rough draft, and several others.  Then the frustrating detail work of formatting the whole thing – which I usually half-ass my way through.  (Which is why there aren’t that many pictures on this thing.) I’m completely in awe of those who present such polished work week after week like Domestocrat, Streets of Salem, Relishments – and I know these you are people with full time jobs.  I can only assume that you all have much better time-management skills than I do, and who knows, I might get there one day too.

But of course! I have Resolutions!  (the aforementioned list) And I want to share them desperately – and quite possibly check in on them throughout the year as I see fit. (You will see, there are no blogging resolutions for this space though.)

2013 New Years Resolutions.

  1. Decrease mile time to 9:20/mile – do 25 consecutive pushups, and Get a Running Buddy again! (Donald Miller says – if you want your resolutions to stick – do them with someone else.)
  2. Teach a Sunday School course (about Food! and Eating!) this Fall (also as part of my larger goal to Seek out Public Speaking opportunities.)
  3. Pay off 1/3rd of husband’s student loan.
  4. Eliminate the words “Always” and “Never” and “Should” from my vocabulary (particularly when preceded by the word “you.”)
  5. Memorize one Bible scripture passage per month.
  6. Write a short memoir.  (I’ve wanted to do this for three years now…)
  7. Create at least 52 collages in order to practice more artful living, and recycled art, on an ongoing basis.
First Collage of the Year
First Collage of the Year

And you? Did you resolve anything? (Or are you more of the Word-of-the-Year type person?)

ALSO: I am always charmed by Pinterest ideas – and then put about 5% into practice.  Here is one that I DO plan on doing this year.

Start the Year with an Empty Jar – fill with hopes, prayer, wishes, and blessings.

What are your roadblocks to a Sustainable Life?

In light of trying to live more sustainably this year (and ever after… of course)  I’ve been following along with Terra Blu’s weekly prompts sporadically since I discovered them around August.  In response to TerraBlu’s weekly prompt this week

What are the TOP FIVE roadblocks standing in your way of living a more sustainable lifestyle?

1. Money – Wish we could buy a hybrid.  Can’t afford it.  Wish I could only shop at Whole Foods, can’t afford that either.  (And as much as other articles try to tell you it’s not that much more… if its $10 more every week, that’s $520 a year. Which –  let’s be honest for us low-middle class families-  is the difference between going on vacation, or not.  Having money for your next car repair, or not.)

2. Time – I am pretty good at buying things used (this takes time to hunt for on craigslist, and other sources, and wait for the right things to come up), but I stink at putting in the effort to find out which things are produced in the first place with the most ethical considerations.  Although I love my CSA, I will likely never have a large enough garden to supply all of my food needs.  (I could be coaxed into a small one though.)  I also don’t feel as though I have enough time to participate in (much) grassroots organization and lobby my politician – even though I think that is important.
3. Lack of Skills, or ability to barter the Skills I have.  I watched this most recent video from Center for a New American Dream about Sharing.  In it, the Sharey Godmother helps a woman figure out that what she really needs to do is just share what she’s already got.

Unfortunately I often feel like I don’t have much. (That is, no lawnmower, laminator, vacation home.)  I’m also not a yoga instructor, graphic designer, carpenter, or a great cook (though I try.)  I know I have skills and abilities… but I often don’t see how I can fit them in with a society based on more sharing.  I think I would end up taking care of kids all the time. (blech)

4.  A desire to live the American Dream (at least sometimes). I admit it: I would like to vacation in Europe.  More than once.  Sustainable?  Definitely not.  And yes, I would like to have a large house.  It’s a pet fantasy of mine on rainy days in this one bedroom apartment, three person household.

Okay, not as big as the Siegal’s ‘Versailles‘-esque home.

5.  What are the next steps?  Okay, so I’ve got down cloth diapers, those corkscrew-like lightbulbs, and resuseable bags.  I also compost, try to make recycled art with what I’ve got, and pester my friends to come to Salem’s next Textile Drive.  I don’t own a house, so no solar panels for me.  What else can I do?

Our first experiments with cloth diapers around 8 months. (Now we’re old pros)

I also wrote a post in August in Response to: What’s on Your Sustainability Bucket List?

How to Waterproof a Raincoat

So, my August sustainability goal was to look through my clothes and to sell, recycle, give away, or make over what needed to go.  (I’m still working on the selling part, but I bagged up a lot of things that don’t fit anymore.) One of the things I have that I know needs a makeover was my raincoat.

I got this raincoat six years ago in New Zealand while I was WWOOFing and it served me really well.  It’s not very stylish, so I mostly wear it and bring it on hikes, camping and for working in the rain.  This happens more than you would think in my life. However, I’ve been noticing for a year that it doesn’t keep me as dry as I would like. So, I decided I could do something about it.

Like all sustainability goals I feel like half the battle is just gathering the materials you need to change your old way of doing things (like trying to get composting).  Here are some of my other sustainability goals too by the way.

Every time I would see a sale on raincoats I would think, oh yeah, I need a new one!  Only to remind myself, I already have one, it just needs new waterproofing.

To do this I gathered these materials:

  1. Raincoat
  2. Bucket
  3. A Drop Cloth
  4. Waterproofing NikWax – I got this at the Sports Authority for $15 dollars.
  5. Watch
  6. Paper Towels

Then I followed this process:

  1. Rinse the (already clean) raincoat in water in a bucket
  2. Lay flat on the drop cloth
  3. Spray coat with waterproofing
  4. Wait two minutes
  5. Wipe off excess waterproofing
  6. Flip coat and repeat steps 2-5 on the other side
  7. Hang up raincoat and allow to fully dry.

Yes, it was that easy. Now I just have to wait for it to rain to test the raincoat out.  Also, were there probably more sustainable ways to do this (like not using harsh chemicals or paper towels)… uh, probably.  But I’ll look into that next time.  For now, I feel pretty good that instead of buying more clothes, I found a way to reuse and improve something I already had.