Brainstorming


Goals and sub-goals are fantastic things. They list out exactly what we wish to accomplish, mapping the road in front of us clearly, and give us a concise directive…”Lose five pounds in the next two months” or “Enroll in college and start working towards my [bachelors, masters, etc].”

That’s a good thing, right?

Absolutely!

Except…see you knew there was a catch, right?…what if your goals are not aligned with what YOU want? What if your goals were made while thinking about:

  • What others expect from you
  • What your ‘responsibilities’ are to your family, friends, or society
  • What you ‘should be doing’

Why would anyone make decisions based on what others think they should do? Well, unless you have grown up in a pack of wolves, unless you have that very rare sense of self that knows exactly what you want and goes straight after it and lets nothing (and no one) stand in your way, then it isn’t too surprising.

We make decisions every day based on others. We fit into society and move within its boundaries and expectations. We are polite, we say thank you and please. We take turns at stop signs and avoid conflict with our co-workers.

Are we always this way? No! There are times when everyone’s anti-social side takes hold. But the majority of the time a majority of us are working within society’s expectations and conforming to the spoken (and unspoken) rules of conduct.

It is easy to lose yourself in that world. But how much unhappiness stems from compromise and capitulation? As in all parts of our lives, we must find balance.

List out three of your goals.

Right now…I’ll wait.

Okay, got them?

Look at your list and ask yourself, “Why that goal?” List your reasons beside it.

Now look at the reasons and underline them if they are other-based and circle them if they are you-based.

If a goal is other-based it has a far less chance of a) making you happy if it is accomplished and b) being accomplished at all.

If it is you-based, you know that this is a goal that you care about. Finding goals that are aligned with our own inner happiness are far more important than trying to make and achieve goals based on what we think our parents, family or society thinks of us. If we are happy deep inside, if we are accomplishing goals based on our needs and our interests, then it will allow us to grow as individuals. Eventually that growth can lead to us giving back (or not) to our community and those that we love on a scale that is tremendously magnified by our new inner joy.

Creating and striving for goals that benefit us as individuals is not selfish, it is the highest form of benefit we can give to ourselves and it will spread from us to others.

Take some time to sit back and ask yourself, “What is it that I want from my life?” You don’t have to have all the answers. It might be as simple of an answer as, “I want to be happy” or “I want a new career”.

Take it slow. Write down you-based goals that align with your needs and wants and leave the other-based goals at the door for now. Begin to work on them and don’t be afraid to revise them as you go along. Nothing is set in stone, not us and not our goals. Eventually, as you grow happier and more content inside, as you find the peace you have been seeking, your actions will naturally begin to impact those around you in positive ways. In other words, the other-based goals may often occur naturally, without any compromise or sacrifice of your you-based needs.

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This week I started a new company called Families InDeed—“Growing Exceptional Families and Leading by Example.”

I’m very excited about this project because I will be teaching a fantastic set of parenting classes I haven’t had the opportunity to teach in nearly twelve years!

After years of threatening to do it, I’ve finally taken the leap and re-vamped the classes for today’s parents. But re-vamping classes and deciding to teach them isn’t enough. I knew I needed to have a very specific plan for the vision that was dancing in my head. I needed to write a ‘white paper’ – a type of marketing tool. It answers questions such as who, what, where and when in regards to products or services you are selling.

Putting all of those thoughts and dreams and ideas down on paper was proving far more difficult than it sounds above. How much should I charge? Who would be interested in these classes? How would I accomplish my goals, and for that matter, what were my defined goals?

I stopped and started several times on the white paper before realizing I needed a different approach. I opened a new document in Word and typed:

Creative Me:

Methodical Me:

These were the two voices warring for attention in my brain. The first one was hopping up and down in excitement while the second one was the voice of reason, of questions and facts and realism. I began to write a dialogue between them…

Methodical Me: What is it that I want?

Creative me: I want to teach parenting classes!

Methodical Me: Okay, teaching parenting classes sounds fine with me. In fact, it sounds great! But a few questions first.

Creative Me: Sure! Ask away!

Methodical Me: Who are these classes for?

Creative Me: Everyone!

Methodical Me: [smiles] Okay, can you think of any limitations right now?

Creative Me: [stops bouncing] Well, a few. The classes I currently have are aimed at the ages 2-10 bracket. But I can put something together for teens as well!

Methodical Me: Okay, that sounds wonderful. So right now, we have the PEP series for Children Ages 2-10, right?

Creative Me: Right!

Methodical Me: Wonderful. So now tell me about where you are going to teach these classes.

Creative me: I could teach the classes at local schools, daycare centers, libraries, and even counseling centers.

Methodical Me: Excellent. Now how would you approach these people and what would you need to provide them in the way of marketing materials and information?

Creative Me: Oh wow…have I got a list of to-do’s!

  • I need a presentation packet: brochure, a single page overview of the parenting classes, a short bio about me, and so much more.
  • I also need to finish the Powerpoint presentations on all of classes in the basic seven-session series.
  • I also need to prepare an instructor timeline, but that can wait until I’ve given them a final polish. Because, obviously, I won’t need to have that until I actually DO the classes.

Methodical Me: Okay, slow down. Let’s talk for a minute about WHO, WHAT, and WHEN and then we’ll get back to the WHERE. Is that okay?

It may sound silly, but it worked. I realized very quickly that these two very distinct, unique voices were me, but they were different aspects of me. In writing it out, and actually ‘coaching’ my other ‘me’ I was able to hone in on areas where I had questions.

In the end I came up with a workable action plan to how I wanted to see Families InDeed begin, who it was for, where it could go, and when it could get there.

Starting a dialogue with yourself may sound silly, but think of it this way.

Our minds exist to ask question and give answers—learning and knowledge are lifelong endeavors and we live for the opportunity to expand our understanding more with each day that passes. Asking yourself the important questions stimulates the need to answer and encourages introspection and understanding of self.

Try it.

You might be surprised at how well it works!

Above all, the thing to keep in mind is this: Not all things work for all people. So if you can sit down and write a business plan from the get-go, great, go do that. But if you are having difficulty getting started, starting a dialogue with your ‘self’ might do the trick too!

My husband is my best friend. He really, really is. I can count on him to prop me up when I’m feeling down and I think he feels the same about me.

We’ve hit some huge potholes in the road of life lately. The main one being a reversal of what I was complaining about in my last entry…too many clients became too few clients. In a span of about two weeks I lost 45% of my cleaning clientele to the economy.

Forget recession folks, I think it’s time to call a spade a spade and declare this a depression. At the very least it is definitely how my pocketbook is feeling these days.

Thankfully, my husband and I have each other to bolster our spirits. When things look grim we just dig in and work together. We’re determined to survive and thrive.

I’ve still pretty new to this whole ‘entrepreneurial thing’ and my husband is even more so. However, he’s catching up quick. We were discussing a class that he will be teaching in mid-March or April called Homebrewing 101. We finished a basic cost analysis, figured out what supplies and ingredients we would need and he will be solidifying the dates of the classes tomorrow with UMKC’s community education department (Communiversity).

I was so happy to hear him planning the class, despite the economic setbacks (which have included him needing to obtain full-time work very soon) and said so. He grinned at me and said, “You know I don’t like to give you compliments because you women get such swelled heads.” He stopped and waited for me to throw something at him.

“But I really like the way you look at things. You’ve got this, ‘Okay, let’s heave some ideas against the wall here and see what sticks.’ And then you come back and throw it up again and see if it sticks a second time. You try it out and if it doesn’t work you move on. You don’t put all your eggs in one basket or wait around for someone else to come rescue you and you never give up.”

I resisted grinning like a complete fool. Some women want to hear how pretty they are or how great their hair looks. Me, I’ll settle for being told I’m full of courage and pluck any day of the week. Courage and pluck lasts while good looks eventually fade.

The point of this entry is just what my husband pointed out. Take some ideas of what you want to do, who you want to be and heave them at the wall like they are pasta. What sticks? Toss it again. Does it stick a second time? Well heck, give it a try then. And if it doesn’t work, try something else.

We only have this one life. Make it mean something, make it special, make it yours inside and out.

Heave it at the wall and see what sticks.