Got Goals?

“Let us cultivate our garden.” 
― Voltaire, Candide

Dad used to schedule meetings with us. He thought important times in our lives required special recognition. He wrote these meetings in his calendar.

The summer after sixth grade, dad scheduled a meeting with me. These meetings were usually held at the kitchen table but occasionally at a restaurant or local ice cream parlor.

This particular meeting was at our kitchen table. I remember it with clarity.

Dad: “This fall you will be starting junior high and I want you to think about what you want to do with the next three years of your life. What are your interests? What do you want to accomplish? What classes do you want to take?”

Me: “Okay.”

Dad: “To help you do this, I want you to write down three goals on this piece of paper. Once you have written them down, I will put them in this envelope and seal them and keep them for you. In three years, I will give this envelope back to you. Then you will be reminded of this day and the goals you wrote and reflect on your junior high years. Did you accomplish your goals? Did you alter your goals? Did you achieve more? Less?”

Me: “Okay.”

Dad: “You see, it is important to go forward in life with purpose. Anyone can live from one day to the next with very little effort. To get somewhere in life you need to make plans, think about your talents, think about your dreams and then forge a pathway to that reality.

Me: “Uh huh.

Dad (pushing a piece of paper and pen across the table to me): “I will give you some time to think. Then I want you to write down three goals for your junior high years. Do you have any questions?

Me: “Ya…Daddy, what’s a goal?

Dad looked at me with his lopsided grin, realizing he had forgotten to factor in my age and inexperience. Then he continued our meeting with more explanations and much encouragement.

I learned a lot about goals that day. His goals. Mom’s goals. Work goals. Family goals. With fledgling confidence, I wrote down my goals and started a journey of being forever driven.

Three years after our meeting, true to his word, dad returned that envelope to me. Not surprisingly, I accomplished all three of my goals plus more.

Goals prepare us for the future. Goals provide us with direction and the freedom to reach beyond our wildest imagination. Goals help us believe in possibilities while distancing us from the voices of those who would be our detractors. Some goals are reached, some goals are altered and some goals are abandoned as we adapt to our ever-changing life.

This weekend, as my husband and I were traveling, we talked about our goals for the next ten years of life. Where do we want to be (both literally and figuratively) ten years from now? I am not sure yet, but I will be, once we finish writing down our new goals.


20 thoughts on “Got Goals?”

  1. Nice story!
    We used to have an annual goal setting exercise with our three kids. Each year we would review the previous years goals, and set goals for the next year. The kids would all complain about doing this, but the oldest has started to do this annual exercise with her children, now that they are old enough.

  2. When I originally clicked on this post, I thought the title was “Got GoaTs?” So I was very confused while reading it. Goats in an envelope?

    I’m going to put a goaL down: Elyse — get your eyes checked!

    Great post!

    1. The unpacking continues to unearth the most amazing treasures and yet I still have piles and piles to go through that will need to find a home either with me, a sibling or in someone else’s life ;) I am thinking of using his plaques to make bookends for my brothers and sister. What else can you do with a huge box of wooden plaques!

  3. Your father sounds amazing. It is so wonderful that you have such vivid memories about his love for you and the guidance his showed you.

    1. Dad was a great supporter of equal rights. Sons and daughters had meetings and goal planning. He always wanted me to be whatever I wanted to be. What a great dad.


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