If You Aim at Nothing are You Really Bound to Hit It? 

In the month of January, when people sit down with year planners and good intentions, I realize, I’m not a great goal setter. 

I don’t like to see on black and white what I’ve kept locked in my brain. It’s not as much seeing it there as feeling like the words are looking at me. Once written, they become accusatory, like kids in the back seat of the car, “MOOOM, she looked at me.” 

As long as my goal list stays in my head and regurgitates in my gut, I can’t really fail, right? Once it’s out there, it turns into a train with no way to get off. A wreck waiting to fall off the tracks, a to-do list with an engine and caboose.

This sort of thinking is precisely why guru’s of all sorts insist on goal setting. If you aim at nothing you are bound to hit it and all that stuff.  

My husband is a goal writer par-exellence. He plans, charts, diagrams and digitals.  He begins each year, oh for Pete’s sake, he begins each day with the anticipation of a cat waiting at a mouse’s door. Cat’s thrive on that kind of enthusiasm. Mice generally don’t. 

Here’s the deal. Lists don’t have atmosphere. 

I could write, “Go out to eat on our anniversary.” But it doesn’t smell like a grilled meat, taste like heaven or include candle wax. It misses the eye to eye searching, the heart discovery or the tender brush of his hand on mine. 

I might want to finally “refinish the round table junked against the corner,” but those words don’t do justice to the friction of sandpaper against grain. A few words on paper don’t describe leaning down eye level to blow from puffed cheeks and watching the cloud of fine powder fill the air. It takes hours of undefined work to unearth emerging beauty or feel fresh paint gliding on smooth wood.

My goals include a writing conference, but that doesn’t chronicle the agony of a vulnerable-introvert pushed into a mass of confident-experts, the writing and re-writing, or the nauseously nervous pit in my stomach. 

My in-head-goals have emotions. They feel, sense, make noise, smell, and are in color. They are big and bouncy, impossible to describe and hard to catch, let alone define and hold. I hate to confine them into lists that turns them into whip wielding slave drivers.  

 I know there is value in brushing off a path and heading in the right direction, to corral my aspirations and make them succinct and measurable. After all who wants to end up in the Atlantic when you were headed to the Pacific? 

Perhaps the real reason I have a difficult time spitting out the nuggets of my upcoming challenges is my balance goes off. I get tied up in trying to take control rather than yielding it. 

I get frustrated trying to compact what I don’t know and decipher the nuances. Is it a goal or a resolution, an ideal or a purpose, a dream or a target? Is it attainable or just wishful thinking? Am I inspiring myself or jumping me off a cliff? 

  I’d rather find a quiet place of solitude and think. I want to be quiet and hear the sounds of life around me. 

I yearn to anchor my heart around One who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and have a long out loud conversation with Jesus in my quiet house. 

I want to let my hopes grow into impossible-to-contain-on-paper giganticness. 

I’ll slice and dice my goals into containable bites another day. But today, it’s enough to linger in the sweetness of the life God has given.   

10 Replies

  1. RJ Thesman Reply

    Excellent post, Sylvia. It seems your major goal is to find that artistic, intimate moment that will foster more words. A worthy goal !

    • Sylvia A Schroeder Reply

      Thanks RJ. Leave it to you to find in it the positive, and I really appreciate that!! Happy New Year!

  2. Barb Fox Reply

    I so sense the artist in you! Most people avoid serious goal-setting because they are content with the ordinary…I love that you are anticipating a life too extraordinary to put on paper. May your cup be filled to overflowing!

  3. J.D. Wininger Reply

    I love this idea Ms. Sylvia. While I might rival your hubby in notes and planning (I make plans to plans; and include making a ToDo list on my ToDo List). Still, my notes are merely “guidewords” to help me find that feeling that I can turn into words as you so beautifully described.

    • Sylvia A Schroeder Reply

      Thanks J.D. My husband will be glad to know he isn’t alone! Appreciate the comment as always.

  4. Geoff Watson Reply

    This is humourous, while serious. This is seeing the point of lists, but also going beyond them. This is the oven of magic, where plans turn into processes which turn into products of artistic endeavour. I simply love this post. Thanks.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Geoff, Thank you. I’m honored. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Linda Brucato Reply

    I completely “get it”! Andy is just like Phil, and I am like you. I like to think my way of living is more “responsive” to what God is saying and doing and therefore hard to “pin down” to a list. Good job Sylvia

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