About a decade ago I started writing down goals every New Year’s Eve. Here’s a few from years past: Learn to crochet (done), Fix my feet (two surgeries later – done), Learn yoga (done), Learn how to use oil paints (done). Most of my past goals surrounded self-improvement or learning a new skill. I also, historically, set one or two goals based on meditation, reflection, or mindfulness.
At first, I chose the low hanging fruit, i.e., listen to a guided meditation, read a reflection, write every day, etc. But after a few years I learned that once I had incorporated mindfulness into my daily life, the meditation, reading, writing, even yoga, all went with it effortlessly. In other words, I was cheating myself by setting goals I knew I could easily reach.
My husband is fond of a guy named David Goggins. I don’t know much about him other than what my husband has shared. David is a runner who pushes through his mental barriers to reach his physical goals. His stories help my husband and give him inspiration. I very much appreciate those who overcome physical limitations and push themselves further than they could have ever imagined. But I’m not that impressed. Don’t tell my husband.
Inspiration strikes us when we can relate. I am not a runner, nor do I want to be. I don’t care that David can run a million miles in a week living off seaweed. Cool story bro but can you take two kids under the age of four to the grocery store before a major holiday without a tantrum? Although, I bet if I asked my husband, he’d say he could.
Goals are only goals when it’s something relevant to us personally, at this period in our lives, in this body, that feels out of reach. Adding a daily reflection reading to my current meditation routine is not much of a goal. Running a few extra miles a day isn’t much of a stretch. Starting to run is.
This year I added a goal that has proven to be one of the more difficult ones to achieve. “Clean the tops of condiments” The idea was to improve my mindfulness and slow down my daily rush by refusing to put away any condiment that was dirty without properly cleaning it. I had to meditate on this one a few times to really understand where I stand on condiments and what I discovered surprised me.
The house I grew up in was not a home. It was dirty and we often did not have proper food. We did however have a plethora of condiments and I would take great joy in using whatever it was. Pickles? Fantastic. Mustard? I’ll make a mustard and pickle sandwich. Ketchup? Jackpot!
My condiment meals were probably the catalyst to my first career as a chef. I can take almost anything from school cafeteria to gourmet dining with a generous number of condiments. As a child, I would ravish through condiments whenever afforded the opportunity. Thinking only of what I was about to eat and never giving a second thought to the cleanliness of the bottle.
This formed a bad habit of using condiments carelessly and leaving them dirty. I have memories of trying to use mustard only to notice the top was clogged and simply pushing out the dried mustard, sometimes onto whatever I was eating, and not giving it a second thought. I’m quite certain that not one time in my entire life did I stop, unscrew the top, run it under water, dry it, and replace it so the next person could enjoy a clean bottle.
Last year I was at my brother’s house, and he watched me use the ketchup and put it back dirty. He asked me why I didn’t clean it off, and I was surprised that I didn’t have an answer. Thus, “Clean the tops of condiments” made it onto my goal list of 2022.
Five months later and I have yet to leave a dirty bottle behind. I think it is a habit now to keep them clean and I am hyper aware of the state of other people’s condiment bottles. I don’t carry any judgement, only awareness. Goals have a way of growing our understanding, compassion, and empathy by aggressively smashing our old ideas and ways of doing things.
Perhaps, reading David Goggins will make my goals list next year but for the remainder of this one, I shall keep my aim a little closer to home.
Today, I will remember that everything I have felt accomplished about in this life started with goal in mind. There are no big or small goals, as time will pass with or without us. The difficulty of a goal may not fully be realized until it is made, and that’s just fine.