I get enough of it at work. I have to do goal setting for every significant job I've ever had. We've always used the SMART model - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. For short term goals in a work setting, its a very good model and something you can measure people and be measured against.
In life, its not a bad model either, for short term goals, like my plan to have cleaned the office over the winter break. To lose those few extra pounds by your next class reunion. To finish your taxes prior to April 15.
But setting these kind of goals only on the first day of a new year seems, well, a little short-sighted. Life changes quickly. Priorities change quickly. New challenges arise, and not just at the beginning of an artificial calendar adopted by the Romans some 2000+ years ago. Sometimes, your goals need to change too.
So I'm not setting any SMART goals for myself this year. Instead, I'm setting some . . . lets call them "life intentions". The kind of things that I should be doing this year, and every year. Things that I can always be trying to do better. Things that shouldn't necessarily have an end state, because there will always be another level to achieve. So here are my "life intentions", as I ponder 2010 and beyond:
- Take care of my body. This does not involve some specific weight or size goal or number of exercises, or permanent bans on any food products. It involves making conscious choices to take care of myself in small ways, each day, in moderate ways that aren't impossible to achieve, but have a positive cumulative effect. Drinking more water. Substituting an herbal tea for my diet soda now and then. Choosing to eat my favorite foods, just less of them. Choosing an extra salad, extra vegetable, extra protein, over something fried, breaded, processed, now and then. Take an opportunity to exercise now and then, even if its in the form of vigorous housecleaning or chasing my kids around the beach. Try to get more sleep. Try to engage in relaxation activities. See a physician about my blood pressure. Finally get that first mammogram I've been putting off.
- Redefine my personal concept of attractiveness. I'm good at doing this with other people. Seeing their attractive features through physical imperfections. Letting their sparkling personalities paint a glow over top of their crooked noses, under eye circles, love handles. Loving them for their humor, their brains, their drive, their ambition, their attitudes, their accomplishments. But I still stand in front of the mirror every day and pick at myself. Hate the bridge of my nose. Wish my arms had more tone. Wrinkle my nose at the grays that just keep popping up. Poke at the softness that age, children, lack of exercise, or that extra brownie has deposited here and there on my body. Bemoan the effect of childbirth and gravity and time on parts of my body that used to sit higher and tighter. I need to remind myself on a regular basis that being loving is beautiful. That being a good listener is attractive. That being confident and smart and successful and well-rounded is sexy. That most women are too busy worrying about their own flaws to notice or care about mine. And that most men, including my husband, don't register 90% of them, even when you're standing naked in front of them. Especially when you're standing naked in front of them. Because at that moment, there is a naked woman in front of them. Which trumps all personal flaws, it would seem (unless my husband's vision is just getting that bad). And if I need an extra boost, its nothing that can't be fixed by a well-fitting pair of jeans or some sexy high heels and a good pedicure.
- Love hard. You can never love your spouse, your children, or your friends too much. You can never say it too many times. Oh, your kids might say "I know, Mom, you tell me that all the time." I never want the most important people in my life to ever wonder how I felt. You will never run out of the word. And if you say it with conviction and meaning, you'll never run out of it either, as it will be reflected back on you tenfold. I will say "I love you" more.
- Compliment people and say "thank you" often. I love when people pay me a compliment. Whether its about my shoes, or how I handled a meeting, I know how good it is to have someone take notice of and mention how well I did. Or when someone thanks me for what I've done. As much as I like my paycheck, I still get the most satisfaction from a job well done that benefits someone or something else. I'm going to compliment people more. When they look nice. When they have well-behaved children. When they do something thoughtful for someone else. When they take a beautiful picture. Write a compelling article or poem or blog post. Do their jobs to the best of their ability. I will thank people more for the things they do for me, my family, my friends.
- Be open to new experiences. New hobbies. New challenges. New friends. New experiences. When I think back to some of the most rewarding, most memorable, most satisfying experiences of the past year, they all seem to come from being open-minded about new experiences and taking the opportunities that are right their in front of me. Some I can plan - like the "air tunnel" indoor skydiving we plan to try as a family. Some will materialize out of thin air in a moment and I need to see them, and seize them, and . . . well, to borrow a quote from Nike . . . just do it. Whether forced to try new experiences (like finding a new career after 15+ years at my previous one), or being blessed by the serendipity of stumbling upon a new experience at the exact right moment in space and time, I am a more complete person for all of the new things and people I let myself experience in 2009. May I actively look for, recognize, or create the opportunity for more of them in 2010 and beyond.
I hope when I get to the end of 2010, I can say I have moved the needle on all of these "life intentions" and that they will be timeless, for 2011 and beyond.
Of course, I still have some short term goals, including:
- Finish my husband's business taxes prior to the deadline and without killing him
- Register my cars in my new home state
- Buy more well-fitting jeans and sexy high heels
- Get a manicure and pedicure . . . ASAP
- Subliminally woo Hugh Jackman to some intimate, romantic spot . . .
Wish me luck.