Goals not meant to be reached

“It says 6:23,” my daughter said in her little voice from outside of the bathroom.

I was halfway through my shower.

“Okay. Make sure your shoes are on. We need to be in the car when the stove says 6:30.”

I AM CONSTANTLY setting goals I know to be unattainable. For instance, the goal to go from soaking wet and naked to dry, fully clothed and starting the car in seven minutes was unattainable. I knew that when I set it.

But if I try for 6:30, I’ll make 6:40. And that’s plenty of time to get to work by 7.

Similarly, I handle my money using a rather simplistic approach. Every time I’m paid, my employer does whatever it does with whatever I’ve ignorantly and semi-blindly allotted for it to take each year and put into some strange account I won’t worry about until I’m retired. Then I pay my bills. Then I leave myself with some ridiculously low number of dollars to live off until my next check. I transfer whatever remains into my savings account.

That ridiculously low number of dollars? Yeah. It’s impossible. We’re talking like 150 bucks for two weeks’ worth of gas, food and long leaf chewing tobacco. It’s basically a fantasy and I end up transferring money out of my savings account several times until I’m paid again. I could spend anywhere from $200 to $500, so I really don’t even come close to the goal I set each pay day …

… yet I find myself setting it, paycheck after paycheck.

THERE ARE SEVERAL ways to look at this. On one hand, it’s rather discouraging to know I can’t do anything that involves self-control and discipline. What an accomplishment it would be to know I said I was going to do something and followed through.

Like laundry on Tuesday nights because there is no football.

… if I could just bring myself to do it on Tuesday or at least some of it on Tuesday, then I could finish up on Wednesday and NOTHING could come between me and Thursday Night Football.

Yeah. Not going to happen. I don’t think I’ve ever done laundry on a Tuesday, yet every week I try pulling that shit off.

Maybe I should stop setting unreachable goals.

Maybe, instead of trying to lead a neatly assembled life that somewhat resembles that of a CEO or engineer or doctor or lawyer, I should just accept what I am good at when it comes to thinking ahead: not doing it to begin with.

I shudder at the thought.

“Well, this paycheck I’ve just decided to take whatever’s left and buy a bunch of tools I’ve never needed but may need someday. I might as well live it up now because I’m definitely not going to have a job at this time next month after I’m late to work 13 consecutive times. And that laundry? Oh, it can go straight to Hell.”

There are advantages to goals that can’t be reached. They have a role in my life.

I AM CONSTANTLY telling Kalista the old adage “shoot for the moon; land among the stars.” If it’s Monday and she’s been given an assignment that’s due Friday, to her, that means she has nothing to do for it until 7 p.m. Thursday, at which time she’ll inform me we need to go to Hobby Lobby and buy green sewing thimbles or something like that. She went through a phase when the bare minimum was enough: she didn’t have to win an anti-drug poster contest, she just had to enter it.

I see where she gets it.

Consequently, I empathize with her, as instinctively I would settle for the bare minimum on things if I didn’t know better. It is only our life experiences that separate us.

High school football taught me to be on time. Working (and losing) menial “service” jobs before and during college taught me the consequences of being late. Not having the money to do something I really wanted to do taught me the importance of living within my means. Finally, spending an entire evening washing clothes and folding them, washing clothes and folding them, and so on and so on, taught me the importance of doing small amounts of a large task more frequently, so not to feel overwhelmed.

What’s frustrating is how long it takes to pass this onto her. We can sit and talk about, sure, but it doesn’t do any good. Experience is the only teacher that will reach her in this.

Now I know how my parents felt.

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