After years of trying, I can finally say I have mastered the art of avoiding coelacanths. Avoiding coelacanths is a long-term goal of mine. I am also a fair hand at not being hit by meteorites and, at the risk of bragging, I have never been abducted by bigfoot.
All these accomplishments are part of my long term goals.
Another long term goal of mine is to never be abducted by aliens, but every now and then I wake up sore in strange places with no memory of the previous evening, so I can’t be entirely sure I’ve accomplished that one.
Still, three goals out of four ain’t bad.
I learned all I know about goal setting years back when I was forced to take a self-improvement class for work. I didn’t even know I need improving on until they insisted I went.
If the instructor was to be believed, goal setting was a miracle cure for everything about me that needed improving on. All I had to do was come up with a bunch of long-term and short-term goals and my life would change for the better. No matter what type of goal I set – and she insisted on this -the trick was I had to choose attainable goals that I could stick to.
That immediately ruled just about anything that would make me a better person: Stop cussing. Go to church every Sunday. Do unto others (as in be patient with other drivers, etc…). Drink in moderation.
Not gonna happen.
It also ruled out anything that is good for you. Quit smoking. Go to the gym. Walk two miles a day. Eat right. That sort of nonsense.
If you want to set a goal I guarantee you won’t keep, set a goal that is good for you or makes you a better person. Oh, you may last a while, but eventually you will crack. And by ‘crack’ I mean crack so loud it will cause permanent hearing loss to anyone within fifty yards of you when it happens.
Next thing you know you’ll be shoving entire wedges of cheesecake down your throat while smoke from the unfiltered Marlboro clenched in the corner of your mouth makes your eyes even redder than they already are from you staying up half the night watching too many ‘R’ rated movies on television and you are praying to your Maker, which takes some nerve inasmuch as you haven’t set foot in church ever since TV Land started broadcasting those Bonanza re-runs on Sunday, that you don’t spontaneously combust when all the alcohol fumes you are burping up from your distended belly billow out of your throat and ignite against the business end of your cigarette.
The first short-term goal I ever set was part of a exercise we had to do for that class. My goal was to go all day without being gored by a rhino. The instructor told me I was not taking the class seriously. I informed her I seriously did not want to be gored by a rhino.
The following day, after I told her my goal was to not be mauled by a tiger, she insisted I pick a more “realistic” goal. I told her my new goal was to successfully breathe oxygen all day with a little nitrogen tossed in just for good measure. My long term goal for the class was to quit smoking if I ever started. She ignored me for the rest of the class.
I still work with several members of that class and I am proud to say I am the only one that stuck to their goals. Nary a one stuck to their diet for long. The two who smoked still smoke. One is a big fan of Bonanza.
I am thinking about sitting down and writing a book on how to create goals you can stick to. I will too as soon as I can sit down. Right now I am too sore in strange places.