Reader’s Request: Setting Realistic Goals

by Holly on January 10, 2011

in goals,life,photography,reader's request

If I had a perfectly plump fairy godmother or a blue genie with the voice of Robin Williams, I would have no qualms asking for three very specific and only-in-my-dreams things:

  • To host my own travel + food show on the Travel Channel
  • To win the lottery so I can pay off my student loans, car loan + send my parents to Europe
  • A lifetime of happiness with my Sagittarian soulmate Jake Gyllenhaal

Two problems.

My name ain’t Cinderella.

And I’ve got no prince named Aladdin.

My name is Holly, and I’m a Midwestern-born Everythingtarian who has wasted an exorbitant amount of time in the past wishing and hoping for things that bordered on impossible instead of taking action and focusing on small, more realistic goals to make my dreams come true.

Yes, that’s me.

When I initially made and then followed up on my 2010 goals, I had many people comment how they appreciated the fact my goals were simple, doable and did not all revolved around health + fitness. As a perpetual daydreamer, it’s taken me awhile to realize that while fantasizing about traveling the world with a camera crew in tow is a great way to forget about thesis paper writing, it won’t actually get me to my goal.

I needed to take action.

Instead of entertaining grandiose ideas, I began making small, realistic and FUN goals.

I vowed to run some races, cook platefuls of yummy food, travel to distant places I’ve never been, pay off my 20-something debt y aprender más español. When I accomplished that, I vowed to travel more, study photography, volunteer and stick to budgets (again, keyword being stick).

And I did.

And so can you.

To start, let me ask you a few questions…

  • What are your favorite hobbies?
  • Do you have a “Things To Do Before I Die” list? If so, what’s on it?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • If money were no object, what would you do tomorrow?
  • What makes you happy?

Now, let’s say your answers are exactly mine.

Running. Cooking. Writing. Yes. Lay in bed for an entire day watching movies. Run a marathon. Skydive. Take risks. Fall in love. A writer. Or a therapist. Or self-employed. Travel. Travel. Travel. Laughing. Being independent. Giving back. Being happy.

Then break them down.

Do you hope to run a marathon some day? Start with a 5K. Move onto a 10k. Sign-up for a 1/2 marathon. Donate plasma to pay for your massive running entry fees.

Are you also looking for that special someone? Put yourself out there. Go out. Speed dating for foodies {!!!}. Ask friends to set you up. Online date. Troll the frozen food aisle of Whole Foods once a week (or more).

Want to travel the world? Aim to save $100 a month. Cut back on Diet Coke, trips to Target and visits to Starbucks. Invite me along – I’ll plan your trip for free.

Stuck in a boring food rut? Aim to cook one new recipe a week. Purchase a cookbook completely different than your normal eating style (vegan? gluten-free? local? organic?). Read this blog for beautiful foodie inspiration. Throw stuff in a pot and cross your fingers.

Want to lay in bed all day watching movies? Lay in bed all day and watch movies.

Hoping to find that elusive sense of happiness and contentment? Be patient. Surround yourself with good people. Go to the comedy club and laugh until it hurts. Eat dessert. Step away from the computer. Daydream. Stop daydreaming. Plan. Burp. Breathe. Go big or go home. Live.

With one foot on the ground and the other perfectly bent in tree pose, you’ll be surprised at how far a pinch of realism and a hefty dose of the whimsical will get you AND me.

I mean, who knows? With a little realistic goal-planning, maybe I’ll be so lucky as to travel to NYC, go foodie speed dating, end up sitting across the table from my blue eyed hunk and become the next Mrs. Gyllenhaal…

What is ONE thing you are going to do this week to get you closer to your long range goal? As for me, my FIRST advanced digital photography class is tomorrow night {!!!}.


Sarah (Sarah Learns) January 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm

i WILL accumulate 10 miles of running this week. even if they are in 5 2-mile spurts.

Amber January 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I will post twice on my blog this week…and the recipes WILL be delicious (as if anyone had any doubts!) :)

Teri [a foodie stays fit] January 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Such a great post! I need to look at my Life Goals and make small steps towards them more often.

Small goal towards lowering my cholesterol: I’m cutting out refined sugar in January. Although, the increased amounts of honey and maple syrup I’ve been inhaling in the absence of the white stuff may not help that goal…

Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! January 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I love this post, Holly–thanks for the reminder about how to make small, realistic, reachable goals! Next month, I am running my second half marathon. This week, I plan to run four days a week including my long run of 10 miles. In order to do so, I plan to hydrate well and get 8 hours of sleep each night. These are things I know I can do! Thanks again for the great post.

amanda January 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm

1. the random furniture pictures made me giggle.
2. sometimes it’s fun wishing and hoping for the impossible. {but hey! if it’s possible for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage-i think out outlandish demands are fair game}
3. prince eric is more like it. where’s he?
4. jake is back on the market-get his digits, girllllll.
5. foodie speed dating some pretty awesome. i likey.
6. traveling the world-sighhh. wouldn’t that be dreamy?
7. come to new york, give me a ring and we’ll hunt a jakey poo look alike down. mark my word.
oh, and 8. tomorrow i will sit down and file my pesty bills. i have the filing folder ready to go, now all i need is the patience and a strong beer.

Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free January 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Another inspiring post! I love it! Everything you wrote in this post reminded me so much of the book “Be” by A.C. Ping. It was the book that helped me decide that I wanted to be a dietitian. He had the same concept of asking yourself questions like you did.
My goal for this week is to finish my girls on the run application to be an assistant coach for the spring!

Kaleigh January 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

First off, I love you photo choices. Amazing.
I am going to calculate what our monthly payments need to be to get rid of our credit card debt this year :) We’re soooo close!!

courtney January 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm

This is an amazing post! thank you for your inspiration!!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 11, 2011 at 1:44 am

your pics are lookin’ stellar, Holly!!! i pay wayyyy more attn to pics now than ever before b/c of my new camera and lens!

love the realistic, practical steps and advice. Baby steps i always say. You dont have to save the world. Just save one little thing, so to speak. That’s how i roll :)

Fi January 11, 2011 at 3:22 am

This is exactly what i needed to read this morning! im on a “sort my life out” mission and this post has made it a little easier to imagine and get a hold of! thanks :) xx

Katie January 11, 2011 at 5:44 am

Love it!

So cool you are taking a advanced photograhy class, let us know how it goes! I bought a canon dslr last night, Im excited to learn all about it, and hope to take a class too one day!


Katherine: Unemployed January 11, 2011 at 6:31 am

creative way to incorporate pictures with what needs to be said. great post and advice. loved stopping in!

Erica January 11, 2011 at 7:05 am

SUCH a great post. I think half of the reason most resolutions fail is they are too large scale and people need to set mini goals to meet their larger goals. I get very whimpy in the winter and don’t want to walk Frank. My goal this week is to get him out just three times! Hopefully that will kick start us back into our regular routine. In the spring/summer I get him out almost every day

Pure2raw twins January 11, 2011 at 7:21 am

Perfect timing with this post! I have so many things I want to get accomplished this year, thanks for reminding I can and I will, just have to start small!!

And yes if I travel somewhere you are more than welcomed to come along ;)

So funny about the frozen food section at Wholefoods…I have been hit on down that aisle before!

brandi January 11, 2011 at 7:53 am

love this :)

and yes – we definitely need to travel together at some point. could you imagine? so much fun.

Autumn @ Good Eats Girl January 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

I love this! The idea of smaller, doable goals is great as a way to accomplish bigger things! I have lots of things that I want to accomplish this year and I am going to begin breaking those into smaller segments to build up to the ultimate goals!

This week my goal is to get my butt back on the treadmill and get a few miles in!

Jen January 11, 2011 at 8:20 am

I’m purchasing a pair of climbing shoes and a monthly pass to the climbing gym. My goal is to have sore muscles more days of the week than not.

Sarah January 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

Such a great post!
As for me? This week, I’m going to run 4 times. I’m going to attend a church that cares about inner-city people. I’m going to see if I need to do any homework before attending my (first!) Masters class.
Just thinking about those things makes me smile.

Mellissa January 11, 2011 at 9:00 am

Love this post! After an incredibly hard two months this week I am going to talk to a counselor to help me through this. One foot in front of the other…

Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

Baby steps are actually HUGE steps in completing your goals. And yes, you definitely shouldn’t make anything you can’t control like winning the lottery an actual goal. ;) Although it’s be freakin awesome!

BostonRunner January 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

I love this post! I’m so impatient that working to accomplish long-term goals is hard for me haha but I like how you break it down into little goals, I’m going to try this!

Marci January 11, 2011 at 11:01 am

That was a really fun post! I hope you will share some photog tips. Where did you find a class? I took a little lesson on my new DSLR at the Apple store actually. It was really helpful.

Jess January 11, 2011 at 11:36 am

Lovin’ all this advice!! Starbucks is SO expensive, and it adds up when going multiple times a week. But Starbucks is STILL delicious…ahhh, troubles!! ;)

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

I loved this post – and I am still convinced I am Cinderella.

Susan January 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I kind of feel like you should be writing wellness/self-help journal articles or books. I much prefer your writing to what’s out there!

I started semester classes this week…just a few steps closer to getting my degree!

Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans January 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I love this post!! Your goals are similar to mine and you make them all seem so attainable. Thanks for being so entertaining as you dole out great advice!

Maya January 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Great tips, Holly! It’s so easy to set lofty goals for the long term and then just give up when you can’t see the short term steps you need to take.

kimi January 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I’m going to make all the dinner’s I planned this week and go to yoga class. Boo-yah!

emily (a nutritionist eats) January 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

This may seem like a ridiculous goal, but one of my 2011 goals is to read more – so this week, I have to read EVERY single night. Even if it’s midnight and I’m exhausted – have to read at least a few pages.

Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm

If I travel the world, I will definitely invite you along. I could use some help planning :)

lora January 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

you are so right holly! i think it really takes small steps/goals/dreams to get to the bigger ones. I know my head is full of crazy ideas, but I think by setting small goals, i can go to Bali or write a book. Hmmm, maybe eat, pray, love did have a lasting impression? hahaha.

Eden January 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Loved this post. I dont really have a goal, and honestly, thats my goal! I’m trying to not have a strict picture in my mind of what my life needs to look like. And maybe what I’m doing to support that effort is just wake up each morning and hope for the best, but accept that s*** happens too. And maybe indulge in a good dose of ice cream, for good measure.

Megan (Braise the Roof) January 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I’m also horrible about setting lofty goals for myself (like, “become rich and famous…next year”), but I’m really working on that. One of my goals is to conquer my fears and being that I’m terrified by heights, the first thing I did was register for Hustle up the Hancock- yup, climbing 94 flights of stairs should do it. :)

Micah G January 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

“Are you also looking for that special someone? Put yourself out there. Go out. Speed dating for foodies {!!!}. Ask friends to set you up. Online date. Troll the frozen food aisle of Whole Foods once a week (or more).”

good advice.
I may or may not frequent cute coffee shops more often than my wallet would like… some call it creepy… I prefer the term “Networking”
Ps. check out my “date” post. (or lack thereof)

ashley@quasichick January 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I nominated you as a “stylish blogger”..check it out :)

Corey @ the Runner's Cookie January 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm

This week I will meditate for 5 minutes, as many days as possible. Lovely post — thank you for the motivation!

kathleen January 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I hope your photography class went well. Although, you already take gorgeous pictures!

Susan January 12, 2011 at 9:51 am

I only have two long-term life goals.

1) Be happy.
2) Own a dog.

I’m aaaalways working towards that first one. These days it’s mostly yoga and eating out with friends that makes me happy.

As for the second one, it looks like I may be moving home as soon as April. Which means DOG TIME :)

Lauren January 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

Run 20 miles this week… I have 9 down so far and plan on running another 6 tonight :)

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