Do you remember the first time you set a goal? Something that you really wanted — and did what you needed to do to get there, to achieve it, to have that feeling of I did it!
I do. I was a near-sighted kid in a very small school in a very small, nondescript town in the South. Where I grew up we didn’t have a huge athletic anything. There weren’t three different schools — elementary, middle and high school. It was one big building that stemmed from a wealthy guy’s idea of a school back in the late 1870s. I don’t know all the history surrounding it but it was a nice school. Our lockers were just square cubby holes with no locks or doors on them.
We had a big gym where our always-losing basketball team would play bigger, better teams, but it was used for community functions as well. My mother and father met in that gym — they used it then for rollerskating.
For the most part, there were excellent teachers. Despite the “disadvantages,” I learned a lot from those teachers and figured out what my passion was.
We didn’t have several classes and choices like kids in larger schools had, but I turned out pretty good anyway. I think I had the same opportunities as anyone else and although I couldn’t wait to get away from that small-town closeness, as an adult I realize how growing up there gave me a true sense of community. My mother and her mother went to school there. The school isn’t a school anymore — it’s a community center or something like that now I think.
My First Goal
I was in the second grade and my teacher gave the students a challenge. Whoever read the most books would not only get a gold star up on a board next to their name, but pencils with gold stars and their name printed on them! This was right up my alley, as I’d read voraciously ever since I could make sense of words strung together into a story, a thought, a feeling. I set a goal that I wouldn’t just read more books than anyone else, I would read way more than anyone else. I really wanted those pencils and the recognition. I wanted it badly.
I drove my Mother crazy bringing home stacks of books everyday. When I ran out of ones that I could read all the way through on my own, I checked out more from the library that had bigger words. Words I didn’t know or understand. She’d spend whatever time she could (she had two other kids) and a house to run, but I’d cry in frustration when I couldn’t figure out a big word and what it meant. She was patient, making me sound out the words, then look them up in a dictionary. My memory of this is that it went on for weeks.
I read 300 books. I got my gold star up on the board and I got ten pencils with gold stars and my name printed on them. I didn’t trim those pencils and use them for a long time. It wasn’t just the “award” or recognition though — it was that feeling — you know the one — when you work really hard and you get what you set out to do. When you make a promise to yourself and you keep it. It’s that.
When Life Gets in the Way
I’ve accomplished other goals since then of course. I read a book about Nantucket when I was in the seventh grade (still in that tiny town) and after I read it, I thought to myself, I going to go there one day. I did, three times, once by myself. It was everything I dreamed it would be, idyllic, one of those places that lived up to the pretty brochures. Not every place does. Odd, though, it’s much like that small-town thing that I wanted to get away from so badly, with way more wealthier people in it and an ocean surrounding it, but still.
I guess the point to all this, is why do our goals become less important as we get older? We put them off (at least I’ve been doing that) because we have to do something else first. There’s always a reason and then ten years go by and you’re thinking, why I haven’t done this yet?
Maybe it’s the childlike wonder. When I set that goal as a child, it never occurred to me that I would fail. I pictured myself up there, the teacher handing me those pencils, her making a big production of putting a star up next to my name. Making the other kids clap. And me, all red-faced, proud and near-sighted feeling so good about myself. That’s pretty much the way it happened too.
I think that’s it. I’ve got a couple of goals now. So I’m going try to find that little second-grader in me again and ask her how she did it.
Happy Monday everyone and here’s to achieving those milestones that make you feel so good.
I don’t know if my goals have become less important, but rather I have to prioritize them more. There’s only so much time. But unfortunately, the goals that get completed relate to work and family, and are not necessarily the ones I’d like to achieve just for fun (like learning Spanish, which is something I keep saying I’d like to do). Still, where would we be without goals? Wandering aimlessly, I imagine. 🙂
Yep, that must be it. The prioritizing thing — that’s the hard part I suppose. I think we always manage to make times for the things we really want though, at least that’s been the case for me. And yeah that language thing — that’s on my list of goals as well. Thanks, Carrie!
I love this story! I don’t remember goals from my childhood, but once when visiting my parents my mom pulled out a letter in response to a petition I had started to get our river cleaned up. It was from a member of parliment. I don’t even remember doing that. 🙂 I think I did this around the 5th grade.
Hi D, thank you! I have some of those grade school things my Mom saved for me as well. That’s cool that you started a petition about something so “big” when you was so little. Sweet.
I think you hit the nail on the head.
Doubt never entered your mind as a child.
Thank you for helping me to remember to channel my inner little girl. I have my list. The one you inspired. I take it everywhere I go. Why did I have to make it so long? 3 pages doesn’t travel well in my brazierre. 🙂
Also, you need to know, I showed my daughter your post.
At a sleepover, she texted me, “Mom….how do I get to Brigitte’s blog? I want to show my friends!”
Did you realize you were the subject of 12-year-old’s slumberparties?
🙂 Keep inspiring me, lady. I am drinking it up.
Lis, This may very well be the nicest comment I’ve ever received. I too am channeling my inner little girl and making my list. And to know that your young sweet young daughter was inspired and showed to her friends?? It doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you. Your comment has come to me at just the right time. I will try to keep the inspiring coming because as I write it, it helps me as well.
And it means so much to me that it inspires you (and your daughter) too. xxoo
I love the idea of channeling the child of our past. It was easier not to have “responsibilities” or to have to go to work like the grown ups. Still, there was a feeling of endless possibilities. I need to find that again for my writing!
Thanks, J. Yeah those responsibilities, bill paying and all that nonsense gets in the way! I’m right there with you though and I still think one can remember that feeling of endless possibilities.
I love this. Makes me want to set a few goals and work toward them with the mindset I had when I was younger and working toward something. You are right about the childlike wonder. Why shouldn’t we visualize like that as an adult?
Also, I totally relate to the growing up in a small time with no choices part. I, too, feel like I had good teachers and got an adequate education, but I certainly wasn’t privileged with the advantages of living in an affluent area.
Do you still have any of the pencils with your name on them?
Britta, I don’t know how we lose it. Sometimes I think we have those moments when we have those big guttural laughs with friends/family (you know the ones where you can’t catch your breath???) Or we’re moved by something we see, read — that’s still in us I think. Maybe we didn’t have all those advantages (growing up in a small town/school), but we still had it pretty good, don’t you think?
I don’t have those pencils. I guess I eventually used them, drawing or writing. I wish I’d had the foresight to save one though — talk about a motivator. Thank you for you nice comment.
Maybe we’re just unaware of all the obstacles when we’re young. We feel invincible and impervious. As we get older we start to put other people’s needs ahead of our own, we get tired and talk ourselves out of things because we are all too familiar with the obstacles — Goals seem out of reach, unattainable and not worth the push. So in summation growing old sucks. Haha!
You got that right. I was like that into my 30s, so what happened? I guess it’s what you said — putting people’s needs ahead of our own. I think women, especially, are pros at that. I don’t want growing old to suck though! I don’t so I’ll keep trying…. Thanks, Lisa.
Just this morning I set a goal to finish my post before noon and attend to every room in my house that needs a thorough cleaning – the goal – just do it. It’s almost 3p.m. and wha-da-ya-know, I’m here burning daylight once again UGH! 🙂 I’m stepping away from the keyboard now, really, okay now 🙂
I know what you mean, Honie. I did finish the few goals I had in mind for myself today but the cleaning thing I’ve yet to do. I hate dusting. And making up beds. And washing dishes. I wish I could be like Ava Gabor on Green Acres and just throw it all away after I use it. Umm, there’s an idea.
I like it. Okay now I’m stepping away from the computer.
Yeah, sure you are. Go ahead. Step away. No, wait….!
If we had been in the same school in 2nd grade, you and I would have been BFFs for sure, Brigitte. I was also near-sighted (still am!) and the idea of those wonderful pencils would have inspired me to read more for sure.
I don’t really have goals the same way anymore—i guess it’s because when you’re a kid, you can focus on the goal and not worry about other stuff. But when you’re an adult, you can have a goal but then you start stressing over what reaching that goal involves, how much other stuff you need to do, maybe even wondering if the goal is worth all the effort, etc. We get in our own way a lot. At least, that’s what happens to me, anyway.
But now you’ve inspired me. I’m going to embrace my inner 2nd grader again. Thanks B!
Hey Weebs. I bet we would have been BFFs too. Thank you. I was lucky and got that lasik thing done when I was in radio. They did while I was on the air. But, still my eyesight is not great. That aging thing, darn it. And yes, you’re right, we do get in our way — I do that all the time. Is it fear of failure or success? If you’re successful, then you gotta be the next time or the next or the next…you know what I mean.
Embrace the 2nd-grade Weebs. I bet she is a wonder. Thank you, friend.
First off– 300 books? wowsers. It would have been cool to be a classroom with other mad readers such as yourself and M Weebles. I lived within walking distance to a library. Spend most of my childhood there– me and my very very nearsighted self.
I am a little saddened by the reality and the comments on this post. Why do we not make goals for ourselves? I see the theme of putting others first always and rarely thinking of ourselves. Our nature takes over.. nothing wrong with that but then when the time comes to maybe take a little “me” time we don’t know what to do. Maybe that should be a goal.. baby steps of me time?
as you can see you have done it again.. more reflective moments from Brigitte. You are a wise lady.
Yeah, I know. I was a possessed little near-sighted freak girl. I LOVE the library. Still do. I’m still amazed at the concept. You can go in and they give you a book and trust that you’ll bring it back. It’s AWESOME.
I like what you said — baby steps of me time. I think that’s what it is and I still think, despite all the so-called “obstacles” we let get in our way, we can still get that feeling back of I can do it — no fear. I think you’re doing some of that right now, aren’t you? Although what you’re tackling isn’t what I’d call baby steps. Kudos to you, woman you are the wise one. 😉 Thanks, Audra.
I am tackling or embracing insanity. My first obstacle is taking my beautiful first born off to school for her freshman year of college THEN I tackle myself at the end of the month. August is a tough one this year…sniffle
Oh, that must be hard, Audra! Good thoughts to you and if anyone can handle it, you can my dear. Can’t wait for the poetry this inspires! Be well, friend.
it’s all clogging up the flow Brigitte. I got nothin…but Mom heartache
It is all good though..she is an amazing young woman ready to fly
You have to know what your goals are in order to achieve them. I’ve always got a couple of goals on the go. Age has nothing to do with it!
You got that right, Sister. Just a number. Thank you!
As usual, your thoughtful posts inspire a couple responses.
First of all–on small towns. Much of what you said regarding your long-ago hometown speaks to me. I grew up in a small town, moved away for many years, and then came back about nine years ago.
Like you, I would read books and think about these far-away, exotic places (some were truly exotic, and some were places like Texas or New York, where all the Superheroes lived), and how very much I wanted to go there. Now, I’ve been to many (but by no means all) of those places, and read a great deal more, and where I want to be most of all in the world is in the little town where I started.
In regard to goals, I actually see goals as a much more adult thing. Yes, children dream, but a dream is a goal without a plan, an aspiration. As a child the whole world lies before you and you want to do it all doctor, astronaut, pornstar–but kids have no plan.
In my own life, I know it’s only been in the past ten years that I’ve really been able to make and keep goals. Staying attentive to my goals is an extra challenge for me (as is staying attentive to anything), but as I’ve mentioned before, I have a very supportive wife.
So maybe it’s something in-between. Adults possess the discipline and foresight to achieve goals, but only kids dream big.
First of all, Superheroes live everywhere, even in small towns. But, I’m sure you’re aware of that, coming from one. I disagree with you somewhat about goals being only an adult thing. That goal of mine wasn’t a dream, it was real and although it wasn’t anything world-changing, it changed mine. And I did have a plan, but I was a smart kid. Still am. :).
Keeping the end result in mind is one of the biggest challenges, I think. Visualizing, how it will feel once you attain it (I think Olympic athletes do this, although I don’t know about porn stars — you crack me up — they’re most likely visualizing something, ew.) But, yeah I guess it may be something in-between. But, I think adults still dream big. I am and I do. So there. Thank you, Smak. Your thoughtful comments always inspire me, my friend.
When I had C, it was like a got 100,000 pencils with my name and stars on them. The real goal for me now is to raise her right (lol, whatever that means). Way, way harder than carrying her for nine months, but certainly the most noble thing I’ve done, or will ever do.
Lovely post, Brig!
Hey Emily, I just bet it was. I hear that from my sisters who’ve had and are raising babies. I think Moms are the best in the world; molding those little minds, raising them right (and yes, I do know what that means and there is a “rightness” of doing that) and I honor you so much for doing that! It is a noble feat indeed, one of the most precious and important goals there is. Thank you, friend and thank you for taking the time to comment on one of my childhood musings. I love your blog, the positivity, the sweet pics — wonderful!
I think that goals changed their names to dreams when we graduated elementary school. Really, I don’t think in terms of “goals” so much now, but in terms of hopes, dreams, desires. Still, a goal by any other name still feels as sweet…
So, thank you for helping me to solidify those dreams and refocus on my goals. A gold star and 10 and personalized pencils for this post, Brigitte!
Hi Robin, thank you! Goals, dreams, hopes, I guess it’s all the same and you’re most welcome.
I guess as we get older, we know more so we think more…. which means our brains get in the way of our hearts (yeah it’s cliche, but it gets my point across 😉 ). Too often I find myself thinking about the what ifs and the I don’t knows so much that I temporarily forget what my original intention was. This was a good reminder for all of us to not think so much and just go for things we want to do. Great post as usual, Brigitte!
Lillian, it’s that getting older part that gets in our way sometimes, I think. And thank you for your great insight — we share the same mindset. :).
I love this post!!! You are so right. I need to set more goals and go out and get them. I have been better about it since I turned 40. This is going to be the decade that I reach some creative goals instead of just professional ones. Thanks for the inspiration. I love your story!! My big audacious goal when I was little was selling the most girl scout cookies. Thanks for another great post!
Hi Jenn, Thank you, so glad you did. Those creative goals can lead all kinds of places. Thank you, fellow Girl Scout. I was one too! I still have the sash with ALL my badges on it. I love it. I sold cookies too. I love the Thin Mints — could eat an entire box myself. :).
I was a Samoas gal myself, although Thin Mints are probably my favorites now. 🙂 Thanks for helping me reach a little higher! 🙂
Brigitte, I love the pencil tale! Now I’m off to find my notebook and pencil. It’s high time for some goal brainstorming and list making. It usually does the trick. Thanks for the push!! T. (I’ll also pull my hair back in pigtails and eat an icecream. Another favorite way of channeling my inner second grader. It also works every time!)
Hey T — wish I’d kept at least one. I really like your channeling your inner child — especially the ice cream part. Thanks, friend.
Loved your post!!! Reminded me of my own childhood days and YES, we had lots of competitions between ourselves re number of books read in a month until we read all the books we could read in the school library (and public library)….however no fancy pencils and stars as you had! 😦 Also, you`re reminding me to go pay a visit to our local library here…haven`t been in a while since I got my kindle…though there`s no such feeling as finding a great book to read on the shelf..just waiting for you…but have to say the kindle is quite handy too, especially when you`re travelling! 🙂
And re goals, I fully agree too! 🙂
Thank you!! I was always a reader — still am. I’ve not broken down and bought an e-reader yet though it is tempting. Much easier to carry, yes? And the pencils and stars were far from fancy, but they meant a lot to me. I love the library and go often. It is a magical place. Thanks for your nice comment. :).
You`re welcome!! I usually use the kindle when I`m travelling for practical reasons as previously I use to take loads of books, in case I run out! I too am a voracious reader, although nowadays, I have been quite distracted by films and not reading as much as I used to. Will visit the local library, as I enjoy it and always emerge laden with too many books.!!
It’s gratifying to see so many people in the comments were readers too! I still have all my prizes (old discarded library books that were vaguely racist). As for e-readers, I broke down and bought one and I’ll never go back. I thought I would miss the pages and buying books, but it’s so nice to have a whole library in your purse.
Hi RG, yes I think most people who have a need to write are big readers as well. Umm, how old were those books? Yes, most likely I’ll break down myself. I keep hearing the same sentiment as the one you’ve just described. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment — it so appreciated.
I actually just wrote out my goals for the next year.. I’m really wanting to meet or beat them all. I have been so busy doing for others (work, family, etc. I kind of forgot about me… No more, I’m back in the saddle 🙂
Hi Lynne, well that’s a step in the right direction. I’ve not written all my down so you’re way ahead of me. And I know about that doing for others. I think women are very good at doing that, don’t you? Glad you’re back in the saddle and I hope you meet and/or exceed every one of them. Thanks for the comment — so appreciated.