“Goals that are not frightening are not worth having.”

           Tina Brown

Journaling personal goals

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I want to warn you now, this is going to be a long post. It’s time to write about creating your personal goal(s) (how to identify, developing a plan on implementation and fighting your inner demons).

As we’ve seen, a dream or a goal is something we all share, but it’s the striving towards fulfillment and the achievement that makes the difference.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu (Chinese Philosopher)

What is my goal?

     We all have dreams and goals of doing something, learning to play the piano, traveling to Ireland, acquiring a new position at work to name a few.

     Research show that when you base your goal on something that motivates you, you’re more likely to achieve it. So think about your life BEFORE you get out your journal. What would you like to change? It’s common during January to look at the new year with fresh eyes. If you were intent on achieving a goal, you look back at the past year and instead of seeing failures you see growth.

     Now, for those of you who didn’t set a goal last year and you’re starting to panic – STAY CALM. You can do this – it’s never to late to dream of doing more with your life.

     1. Start by thinking about what’s meaningful to you. Would you like to change your life style or make a new friend?  Do you need to spend more time with your family or learn to cook? At this point I would take separate sheets of lined paper and write a goal at the top of each paper. It’s ok for the ideas to be broad-based.

     2. Identify your “best possible self”. Here’s where visualization takes place. You need to see yourself in the future having achieved your goals and then consider the things you need to do to achieve them.

     Some time ago, I read an article about an American POW during the Vietnam War. He was asked about how he got through his days and he talked about his house. He asked himself what would I do, if I wanted to construct my home differently? Would I use the same lumber, the same type of windows, and how many rooms would I have? He “wrote” in his mind’s journal where he would build, who would he hire and about how many rooms he wanted to have. He even “drew up” a blueprint of his new home. In a sense, you’re going to do the same thing. Write down the steps you would need to take to achieve your goals. This may take a while as you start to actually visualize yourself achieving your goal. Would you need to learn a new skill or find someone to help you? There are many things to consider. Think about the skills you already have. You’re a good researcher; you like to talk in front of audiences etc.

     3. Prioritize your goals. Don’t focus on all of them or you’ll get overwhelmed and discouraged. Say your goals look something like this:

     a) Most important: family relationships, health style

     b) Travel to Seattle, WA

     c) Learn to knit

     Remember when you were in English class and the teacher said that if you wanted to write something meaningful for your reader, you had to focus on who, what, when, where and how. You need to answer those questions in the first few paragraphs of your article.

     Well, now you’re getting down to the specifics of a goal. Who is responsible? Learning to cook would take you and your teacher. Loosing weight requires the cooperation of family members and your determination to eat healthier meals.

     The what point makes you focus on exactly what you need to do. If learning how to eat healthier is your goal, then learning how to make healthy snacks for work is more specific.

     When to achieve your goal (as we’ve discussed in previous posts) is critical too. Be realistic when setting your time frame. I know from experience that you can’t lose 10 pounds in a week! You can however, with careful dieting, the help of your spouse, a plan and will power loose enough weight to fit into a fantastic new dress for your high school reunion. ( I did!)

     Sometimes the where is just plain obvious but write it down anyway. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re going to exercise are you a) going to join a gym, b) run in your local park, or  c) power walk on your lunch hour.

     The how step defines your goal’s framework. For example, the veteran in the story above, planned on research to describe what type of windows worked with his design and where he would shop for them. If you were going to make smoothies, you would need to get the right cookbook, gather your kitchen tools together and buy ingredients.

     The why is pretty obvious but writing it down also brings the “big picture” into focus. It also helps to have a visual or picture close at hand to remind you of why you are doing all this work. I bought magnetic numbers from a dollar store and put the weight goal on my refrigerator along with a picture of the dress from the catalog. As the pounds dropped so did the numbers. I worked toward something positive (healthy life style, feeling better, more energy) rather than feeling I was moving away from “feeling fat”!

     As you move through your goals (both writing about them and implementing them) it helps to identify obstacles. If you have a plan to defeat them, your progress will be smoother and faster. Obstacles can be external, such as lack of money or time to achieve your goal. An action to overcome this obstacle would be to start small, buy a cookbook or borrow one from the library. Obstacles can be internal such as lack of information or an inner demon –


     Using visualization to identify your “best possible self” also works when improving your performance in achieving your goal. As the pounds and inches dropped over the summer, I took the dress out of my closet and hung it in its plastic bag where I could see it daily. I would picture myself wearing the dress, dancing, greeting former classmates, writing about it on Facebook etc. I “saw” myself eating fruit and veggies and drinking lots of water. I “saw’ myself walking up and down our street.

     Sometimes when I was out at a restaurant and someone near me was eating a delicious looking dessert, I began to waver – “One little brownie won’t hurt” I heard in my head or “You’ve been working so hard and it’s a holiday. You deserve to take time off”. It was then that I turned to friends and family for encouragement. Oh and yes, the mirror never lies. Did I have a set back? Yeah, I did. But I thought about how far I’d come and then decided to reward my small successes. No, I did not use food. For each pound or inch lost, (I measured weekly) I bought myself some flowers. When I lost 5# or more, I went to my favorite craft store and when the dress fit and my goal was reached I bought new shoes to match my outfit.

     That’s just my example but there are legitimate inner demons that can plague a goal setter. Some of them are: false hope syndrome, perfectionism and down-right  making a fool of myself. Overcoming each of these demons can be overwhelming and “just saying no” isn’t the answer. Achieving a goal takes work, determination, the help of others and faith in yourself to achieve them. No matter what your struggles are and how you reached your goal you positively need to write down your journey to your best possible self. In that way, when you reach for the next goal, you will see your path ahead of you. Crossing off each goal is in itself an accomplishment and better than any “To Do” list I can imagine.

     My wish for you is that you reach your goals this year.





“There is no achievement without goals.”

Robert McKaid




“People with goals succeeded because they know where they’re going.”

Earl Nightingale


June 2023

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