Beth Wonson & Company

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Empowering Executives, Emerging Leaders, Teams, & Individuals For Over 20 Years

Same as last year!

My geometry teacher started the 1974 school year by instructing us to write our goal for the year on a 3x5 card. I wrote "I'd like to say I'll study more and work harder. But I know I won't. So I'm going to do the same as last year. I'm satisfied with the result of my effort."  

He flipped through the collected cards and pulled out one that he said was "outstanding."


I assumed he'd be reading the perfect goal written by one of the honor students. Instead he read my card. He said something along the lines of "This is honest and realistic" and he praised me for being in touch with how I wanted to allocate my effort.


As an adult, I got away from intentionally allocating my effort. I let go of the things that truly fed me (horses, art, rest, connection with people and nature) in favor of goals inherited from my parents, society and peers. I forced myself to achieve these goals despite what I was yearning for internally. Slowly I lost my passion, purpose and balance. My body tried to give me messages through exhaustion, a quick temper and aches and pains. About three years ago, I started listening and today I have an entirely different view on the value of goals and ambition.


I'm intrigued by how we set goals. And I've learned the goals we choose are frequently the result of imprinting from parents and society. We build our goals on a solid foundation of "should's" instead of what we authentically feel passionate about. Goals are often fueled by the empty and manipulative marketing messages that inform us of how to spend our time and money. The trade off is time and energy for what truly brings us joy. And we wake up wondering when we lost our passion, purpose, inspiration, ambition and sometimes our health.


For many of us the start of the school year triggers evaluation of our goals. If you find yourself in this space, I encourage you take a few minutes and sit quietly. Visualize yourself as a young child, maybe four or five years old. Imagine that you are having fun and full of joy! What are you doing? Finger painting? Playing with your dog? Running in the park? Swimming in the ocean? Making mud pies? Or maybe even just watching cartoons!


As you set your goals, at the top of your priority list, add some version of the very thing you saw yourself joyfully doing at age four or five. If you loved the ocean, spend some time at the beach each week. If you loved playing with your dog, volunteer to walk dogs at the shelter (or spend more unstructured, playful time with your own). If you loved watching cartoons, schedule some time for some mindless television viewing! The important piece is to spend some time each day absorbed in an activity that makes you happy with no goal of improvement! And ENJOY!


Trust me on this one!