Looking Ahead to Make Dreams Happen
Once I was walking in my neighborhood when I met a woman I knew. We stopped to chat and she shared a depressing time she had just had at a 50th birthday party where the main topic of conversation was: “well if I’d really thought I was going to reach 50 I would have planned ahead to do more stuff or saved money etc..” She said everyone at the party was talking like they had missed opportunities – that life had crept up on them and now it was too late. Those thoughts would make me depressed too!
That afternoon I made a vow to open a bank account and put $150 a month to do something big when I turned 40 (I was 35 at the time). I did, and it worked! I went for a 5 week trip to France with my family in Spring 2011. Because we saved the money ahead, we didn’t go into debt (what a concept!). And one thing is for sure, if I hadn’t made that decision ahead of time, we wouldn’t have gone. I could have found 100 good reasons why not to go, eg. needing to work, the holes in our deck or deteriorating kitchen cupboards. I now realize I can live with rotting decks and cupboards, but not rotting dreams!
Creating goals is something I’ve heard recommended so many times in marketing or business talk and the importance and practicality of goals was most recently expressed in an excellent four hour art marketing webinar by Barney Davey. According to the experts, successful goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and trackable.
I can actually relate this to mountainbiking, my favourite sport. In mountainbiking you need to notice what’s happening several metres ahead of you on the trail, as well as the root that’s just about underneath of your front tire. If I do it right, setting goals may be a concrete way for me put some serious thought into future actions, so I can more easily and effectively navigate in the moment. In the end, I can hopefully have the satisfaction that “I made it happen”.
Image: Watercolour painted on rooftop while snacking on wine and cheese; Charite Sur Loire, France