How can you help focus a child – or an adult for that matter – on his or her goals? How do you get the imagination churning to postulate a better future?
I pinpointed my own answer to this question to a method I’ve used in both my personal and professional life. As my personal life story is much more interesting, I’ve decided to break with the norm of discussing youth and share the back-story of a personal life lesson with you. (It’s private, so don’t read on unless you REALLY want to know this.) Frankly, I have my mother to blame.
After 10 young years of marriage, an interesting divorce and subsequent crises which led me to return to school at age 31 for an Engineering degree (of all things), I got to thinking about what I REALLY wanted in life.
Starting with an area of life I felt needing sorting out most – my love life, or lack of it – at my wise mother’s suggestion, I made a list of all the qualities I wanted in a man.
I separated these points into what MUST be present for any future man of mine and the points I WANTED in a man, but weren’t a deal breaker. This took at least a week part-time, and a few pages of single-spaced bullet points.
Once I had this solidly down for myself, I joined a dating service and started looking around, both on-line and in places I frequented.
Sometimes I’d know after one email or a phone call if it was a go or no go; a few got a single date out of me.
I would not compromise – either it was there or it wasn’t there with the guy. There’s no shortage of people on this planet, just as there’s no shortage of readers who might find you hilariously funny if they just keep reading.
Frankly, I think God and the Universe finally got tired of listening to the appeals in my daily mantra “I have a man who fits my list”, so helped me along.
One fine day my husband (who was an engineer on a project I was managing and thus right under my nose this whole time) called to complain that I had scheduled a business meeting on the last day of the San Diego Padres baseball team business-discount ticket sales. It seemed a few of the guys at work had wanted to catch a game during that time but had failed to block-out their calendars on Outlook.
He opened the conversation with “You must not like baseball.”
A few days later, he showed up at my desk and asked me out to baseball game. He said it was simply un-American that I had never been to a game.
How could I refuse such an insult? He did fit my initial profile requirements. And this game was on the one day of the week when I didn’t have class. So I agreed. If nothing else, I could cross off “seek out American heritage” from my bucket list.
The rest is history.
After two successful dates (and that was a record) I decided to push the envelope. I took him for a colonic – no joke. Yes, if the man would undergo his first-ever colonic for me, then I knew he’d be open to all other crazy diets, vitamins and strange health requests I might be making.
One thing was certain – I knew what I wanted. Thanks to my list, I knew what I was willing to bend on and what I was not.
I was focused on my goals, I trusted myself and I had enough confidence that I’d find what I wanted to carry me through.
After 8 years and still going strong, our marriage gets better and better.
With this and other such list-making successes under my belt, I recommend to anyone seeking to identify and attain their goals to sit down and spend the time to clearly list out what YOU really MUST have and what you WANT to have for any situation, whether career or personal.
This has been my #1 self-discovery step for achieving a goal:
You have to clearly name the goal in all its guts and glory.
p.s. Thanks, Mom – it worked!