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Reader’s Request: Setting Realistic Goals

Posted Jan 10 2011 9:49pm

If I had a perfectly plump fairy godmother or a blue genie with the voice of Robin Williams, I would have no qualms asking for three very specific and only-in-my-dreams things:

  • To host my own travel + food show on the Travel Channel
  • To win the lottery so I can pay off my student loans, car loan + send my parents to Europe
  • A lifetime of happiness with my Sagittarian soulmate Jake Gyllenhaal

Two problems.

My name ain’t Cinderella.

And I’ve got no prince named Aladdin.

My name is Holly, and I’m a Midwestern-born Everythingtarian who has wasted an exorbitant amount of time in the past wishing and hoping for things that bordered on impossible instead of taking action and focusing on small, more realistic goals to make my dreams come true.

Yes, that’s me.

When I initially made and then  followed up on my 2010 goals, I had many people comment how they appreciated the fact my goals were simple, doable and did not all revolved around health + fitness. As a perpetual daydreamer, it’s taken me awhile to realize that while fantasizing about traveling the world with a camera crew in tow is a great way to forget about thesis paper writing, it won’t actually get me to my goal.

I needed to take action.

Instead of entertaining grandiose ideas, I began making small, realistic and FUN goals.

I vowed to run some races, cook platefuls of yummy food, travel to distant places I’ve never been, pay off my 20-something debt y aprender más español. When I accomplished that, I vowed to travel more, study photography, volunteer and stick to budgets (again, keyword being stick).

And I did.

And so can you.

To start, let me ask you a few questions…

  • What are your favorite hobbies?
  • Do you have a “Things To Do Before I Die” list? If so, what’s on it?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • If money were no object, what would you do tomorrow?
  • What makes you happy?

Now, let’s say your answers are exactly mine.

Running. Cooking. Writing. Yes. Lay in bed for an entire day watching movies. Run a marathon. Skydive. Take risks. Fall in love. A writer. Or a therapist. Or self-employed. Travel. Travel. Travel. Laughing. Being independent. Giving back. Being happy.

Then break them down.

Do you hope to run a marathon some day? Start with a 5K. Move onto a 10k. Sign-up for a 1/2 marathon. Donate plasma to pay for your massive running entry fees.

Are you also looking for that special someone? Put yourself out there. Go out.  Speed dating for foodies {!!!}. Ask friends to set you up. Online date. Troll the frozen food aisle of Whole Foods once a week (or more).

Want to travel the world? Aim to save $100 a month. Cut back on Diet Coke, trips to Target and visits to Starbucks. Invite me along – I’ll plan your trip for free.

Stuck in a boring food rut? Aim to cook one new recipe a week. Purchase a cookbook completely different than your normal eating style (vegan? gluten-free? local? organic?). Read  this blog for beautiful foodie inspiration. Throw stuff in a pot and cross your fingers.

Want to lay in bed all day watching movies? Lay in bed all day and watch movies.

Hoping to find that elusive sense of happiness and contentment? Be patient. Surround yourself with good people. Go to the comedy club and laugh until it hurts. Eat dessert. Step away from the computer. Daydream. Stop daydreaming. Plan. Burp. Breathe. Go big or go home. Live.

With one foot on the ground and the other perfectly bent in tree pose, you’ll be surprised at how far a pinch of realism and a hefty dose of the whimsical will get you AND me.

I mean, who knows? With a little realistic goal-planning, maybe I’ll be so lucky as to travel to NYC, go foodie speed dating, end up sitting across the table from my blue eyed hunk and become the next Mrs. Gyllenhaal…

What is ONE thing you are going to do this week to get you closer to your long range goal? As for me, my FIRST advanced digital photography class is tomorrow night {!!!}.

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