8 ways to maybe be sort of successful goalwise.

At the end of 2006, Nancy and I started walking. Together. Around the neighborhood and then around the mall. We kept walking all year long. We know for sure we went more than 600 miles during the year, though we probably went farther.

This morning we started the new year by taking another walk around the mall (or three times around the mall). Unlike most mornings, however, we treated ourselves to a cup of coffee (black) and some additional conversation, trying to list some things we are considering for the year. Out of that conversation and some other thinking, here’s today’s 8 ways list, rooted in the reality that most of us are really good at not being really good at accomplishing goals.

1. Ask yourself or your partner in accomplishing life, “list three words for the year.” Rather than giving you a roadmap, these can give your heart direction for the year.  (One of our words for the year is “smaller”, reflecting a desire to live more simply with many fewer purchases.)

2. Identify month-long rather than year-long goals.
This year I set a goal for August, for thirty days of posting. It was achievable because it was sustainable. I did the same for Advent. I’m planning it again for Lent.

3. Talk next to rather than across from a guy.
Nancy realized that part of our success in walking and talking this year came because we weren’t looking at each other. I’m certainly not opposed to looking at my wife–quite the contrary. However, it is easier to talk while side by side. (The real principle here is that we need to make progress comfortable).

4. If “purposes” or “directions” are more helpful than “goals”, great. Progress is more important than language.

5. Interact with people.
I’ve been stretched by conversations this year in ways that I never would have imagined at the beginning of the year. I think differently than I did…and so do some of the people that I’ve talked with. And the truth? Our projects may fail or fizzle, but the more we are deepening in relationships, with both other humans and with God, the less significant those projects are.

6. Let goals masquerade as things you want to do.
You think, “I want to read that particular book.” Do it. Then you will have read something, grown your world, given yourself something to talk with others about, challenged your thinking, and kept either a library or bookstore in business.  (And here are some books to consider…from my “bookstore” or I could loan them to you)

7. Tell other people about what you are wanting to do in as direct or vague a way as you want to be held accountable.
There are a bunch of people who are really tired of hearing that we’ve been walking. The more we talked about it, however, the more we knew we needed to keep going. And as we were at the mall this morning, we noticed a couple we know who have decided to walk at the mall.  So we’ll keep talking about walking.

8. Forget about lists. Just live.
(Although ironically, just living can turn into a whole collection of 8 ways lists.)


For more 8 ways…

To recycle a month
To cross-pollinate your world
To fall off a horse
To audit my (spiritual) time

To waste the month
To waste your blogging time
To ruin your day
To be thanked
To increase your stress

To explain 2.0 friends to 0.0 parents
To lose your faith
To make yourself angry
To make yourself jealous
To make yourself depressed
To ruin your marriage

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4 responses to “8 ways to maybe be sort of successful goalwise.

  1. Great suggestions! Printing this and putting it on top of the pile of things I haven’t gotten to yet. 🙂

  2. thanks dave. and when you pick it up again, that’s success!

  3. Can you elaborate further on why “next to” instead of “across from” may be better?

  4. I wondered if anyone would ask. 🙂

    I, of course, am only making up the answer. But here goes:

    1. Because when you are side-by-side it means that something else is usually happening..walking, driving, watching kids play on the playground, which means that the silence necessary for thinking and reflecting has an excuse for existing.

    2. Because sometimes it’s easier to say tough things when there is that space for reflection, for finding out if you really mean what you are saying.

    3. Because it means that you can grimace without the other person seeing. That helps.

    4. Because it provide the intimacy of being close without the invasiveness of looking at each other all the time.

    5. Because some of us think better while looking into space.

    That’s a start at least.