by Catherine Hearn
In the world of self improvement and self-help, you’re always hearing about the importance of goals. What are your goals? What are your dreams? What are your passions? And if you’re at all like me, those questions just make you want to roll your eyes and think… I don’t know what my “goals” are! Who really does that anyways?! But something happened in my life that made me think about them in a whole new way… a way that made complete sense to me. And now, I see that they are just as powerful as people are always saying they are. It just doesn’t have to be approached in such a boring way! It’s time to make “setting goals” more approachable, more interesting, more…fun?
To make a long story short, the journey that brought me to setting and achieving “goals” and completely changing my life for the better went about something like this:
Stage 1: Live my life as an absolute perfectionist, overachiever, make-sure-I-look-good-in-everyone-else’s-eyes kind of gal. i.e. always trying to get the ‘perfect’ grades, look as ‘perfect’ as possible (whatever that means?), be the president of my college organization, date the ‘cool’ guy, and on and on…
Stage 2: Get a standard office job doing what my college major prepared me to do…regardless of whether it really inspired or interested me. It’s what we’re all “supposed to do” after all, isn’t it? (gag)
Stage 3: Find out I have a brain tumor. A benign, non-cancerous tumor called a pituitary adenoma to be exact. Not dangerous or life-threatening, but try explaining that to me in the same sentence as the words BRAIN and TUMOR in a voice mail left on my cell phone by my doctor’s office (awesome customer service, I know) , and I didn’t exactly hear the “you’re gonna be fine though” part…
Stage 4: Sit down and realize (post freak-out and crying session)… ok, clearly I am NOT in control of my life. So, what CAN I do? Suddenly I realized that SO MANY of the things we sit around and complain about in our lives are actually within our control of changing. Unfortunately, for most of us it often takes a moment of — oh wait, I might not have another day— to realize that. So I asked myself, how am I spending my days that suddenly seem more numbered? Well, at the time… 9 hours a day at a job I didn’t like, in a 7-year relationship that wasn’t healthy, not working towards anything I had always talked about wanting to do “some day,” not really doing anything that necessarily excited me… not the best start, to say the least! I had been living my life entirely with the purpose of impressing others and was completely out of tune with what I personally wanted and who I really was. This prompted me to sit down with a piece of paper and make a list (I love lists 🙂 ) — I asked myself just for fun, what are all of the things I’ve said I’ve always wanted to do? The list started something like this:
- study abroad
- complete a triathlon
- become fluent in Spanish
- go rock climbing
- live in Southern California — I love the beach!
- go to ACL (it had always sounded fun but because my friends weren’t into it, I never went)
- drive a black bug convertible (why not?)
…and many more things, both small and big.
I decided then and there that THIS was my new to-do list. And to start on it…. RIGHT THEN. And what do you know? Within two years I had lived and worked abroad entirely in Spanish, spent 6 months living in San Diego (which led me to discover my passion for women’s empowerment & psychology of health & wellness) … and the list keeps going on. Of course I have not checked everything off of my list, but I see them ALL as achievable and I am always working towards making at least one of them happen. No more stagnant living for me! My self-talk has changed from, why do that? That’s ‘not normal.’ To, why NOT? My new mantra became “no regrets,” and I became the queen of trying new things, getting outside of my comfort zone, listening to what I wanted to do instead of what was seen as “normal” to those around me — and WOW am I a happier, more fulfilled and more joyful person on so many levels, to say the least.
I truly believe that God made us each purposefully unique, with very different, specific (sometimes random or silly) desires in our hearts. He put all of these random desires within each of us for a REASON. We just have to have the courage to listen to them and go after them. It is THEN, along those crazy missions toward checking those small and large things off our “lists” that we will find our unique purpose and experience the abundant, exciting and joyful lives we are cut out to live.
It’s simply a matter of taking ownership.
I think this quote says it best:
The best day of your life is the day on which you decide your life is your own.
No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift of life is yours, it is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. Life is about the choices you make — choose wisely.
So I challenge you,
- Ask yourself: Do I take ownership for the quality of my life? Or do I blame my circumstances or other people in my life for the way things are?
- Sit down & write down all of the different ways (big & small) that you complete these sentences:
- “I’ve always wanted to _____________”
- “I really want to _______”
- “Someday I’d love to ______”
- “I wish I could __________”
- Get to work! And remember, it’s all about baby steps. Decide that the second you want to start complaining about something, you will instead decide what small steps you will take to CHANGE them.
You might just find that the grass, right where you are, suddenly gets a little greener 🙂