Here & there: Chalking out goals with one hand on the eraser

Rethinking goals | Image by Ales_Utovko / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION – Before all of the carpools, lunch making, back to school nights and homework begins, I take my boys out to lunch one-on-one. They pick the restaurant. We talk goals for the year. The goals can be anything, really.

Sometimes they are lofty. Sometimes they are not. One year, my youngest set the goal of learning how to wipe his own bottom. I was thrilled because he was 4 and I thought it was high time he took full responsibility for that particular hazmat duty.

school year goals chalkboard - StGeorgeNews.com
The Dayton boys’ list of 2016-17 school year goals. Salt Lake City, Utah, September 2016 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News

I wrote it on our big chalkboard wall where all the goals go and he got to work.  Within a few short weeks he’d figured it out and earned that satisfying check mark … in fluorescent green chalk.

Then, he promptly refused to keep it up, citing the fact that he preferred my wiping to his.

Most of our goal setting goes a little better than that. Sometimes we adjust, like when my middle boy started out the year wanting perfect scores on 10 spelling tests before he realized that he really struggled with spelling. Other times, my boys methodically work through their lists with great success.

As I took stalk of the chalkboard this week, goals ranging from complicated gymnastics skills to reading “Henry and Mudge” chapter books without help, I wondered about my goals.

I went through the laundry list of things I’ve wanted to do: get yoga certified; play the harmonica; take a fancy cooking class; hike Mt. Olympus; take a girls trip to Croatia.

But when I really think about what I want to accomplish this school year, it isn’t so much about what I want to do, it’s about what t I don’t want to do.

I don’t want to be harried. I don’t want a jampacked schedule that has me falling into bed exhausted every night and waking up every morning unrefreshed. I don’t want to do more for the sake of more.

I also don’t want to be idle.

I want to improve as a human being. I want to grow – in the big ways, in the important ways.

Pinterest must be psychic because almost as soon as I’d thought it, I had a message in my inbox about trending pins. One of the pins was “Life Lessons Advice from an 80-Year-Old Man.”

He advises 50 things. Some are little. Some are big. None are really to-do list items.

One is “keep secrets.” Another is “don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments.” And another is “wave at the children on a school bus.”

At nearly 40, I’ve gotten pretty good at goal setting and accomplishing. Graduate college: check. Get married: check. Have children: check. Climb Mt. Timpanogos: check. Get scuba certified: check. Write a newspaper column: check.

Check. Check. Check.

Goals are obviously something I value. And I want my children to value them, too.

But I feel like it might be time for me to transition out of the basic goal-setting mode partly because my goal setting has devolved into mostly list making … and my list is always unfinished … and I am always tired.

This year I want to laugh more. I want to be more patient. I want to build relationships. I want to be joyful. I want to be present.

I want to consider the bigger-picture items. And let go of the lists.

Soon enough, I’ll be the octogenarian and I want to have more to share than a to-do list – accomplished or not.

Email: katdayton@gmail.com | news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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