I drove home from a friend’s house Sunday, and I hit the stop lights on our main drag just perfectly to make sure every subsequent light turned red just as I arrived. At each stop I rolled my eyes realizing if I had just sped up a little before that first one, they would all have stayed green long enough for me to make it home five minutes faster.
No harm came from those extra five minutes, other than my own impatience, but the extra time did allow me some reflection. Somehow the frustration triggered memories of a goal-setting lesson we frequently taught–or tried to teach–our children.
Todd was a whiteboard dad, and if he couldn’t find a whiteboard to draw out a lesson, you could bet every father-son or father-daughter moment would involve paper and pencil. Dad drew out diagrams to picture life lessons, and one was a life path with goals.
You see, we have dreams in our lives that we may never accomplish if we don’t move them from the world of dreams and re-categorize them as accomplish-able goals. He would draw out the end game and then help them set milestones along the way to those life goals. The hard part, though, was the daily action items. We asked, “What should go on your task list today that will help you achieve the next milestone?”
As I moved along that road from red light to red light, I remembered the milestones of my own. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I needed a degree but had no money. I had to set milestones in different places than others did in order to reach that goal, but I did it. Each decision along the way turned the next light green and created a pathway for me to move to the next milestone and eventually to the goal.
The one thing I hadn’t accounted for, though, was what comes after the goal. You see, making those steady and sometimes difficult decisions to be disciplined and focused took me to where I wanted to be, but getting there opened up opportunities and possibilities I never knew existed. I’ve moved far beyond the goals I originally set as a child and found fulfillment among a global community of learners, but that never could have happened if I hadn’t gotten out of bed every morning and trudged my way through the cold to each of those classes that seemed so irrelevant in the moment but eventually worked their purpose in my life.
The first light that almost turned red in front of me because I lacked the motivation to work faster and harder could have ended my journey, but clear goals reminded me every day that I could only hit that snooze button so many times before I kept myself stifled at the red lights life would naturally throw in my path.
Maybe you have some dreams but haven’t taken the time to turn them into attainable goals: to create a plan to achieve them. Don’t let your life turn into a traffic jam. Do today what it takes to move you one step closer, and before you know it, you may look at that goal in your rear view mirror as you race toward bigger and better things.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.