What Do You Really Want to Do?

By Vicki Voisin, ACP

Isn’t it interesting that some of life’s most remarkable experiences end up being right next-door? Edith Gilbert has been my dear neighbor for 30+ years and I long ago decided I want to be like her when I grow up!

Edith is an author who focuses on wedding planning, party giving and modern etiquette. Her articles have been published in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Her books include The Complete Wedding Planner and Easy Entertaining, among others. Of course she’s a fabulous hostess…dining at her home is like being invited to the White House. The food, the flowers, the china, the place cards … everything is elegant and perfect. After all that, she had every right to rest on her laurels and bask in her success…but not Edith! In her ninth decade, she launched a new product she dubbed Plum Crazy …a conserve that is to die for when served with meats or over ice cream. This summer she’s following up withTiny Tim’s Plum Topping.

Edith is one of the busiest people I know. She’s spends hours at her computer writing, answering her e-mail and maintaining her web site. She’s always setting new goals. Thinking about Edith, her accomplishments and her never-ending goals prompted today’s feature article: What Do You Really Want To Do?

It’s never too early…or too late…to dream about your future and set goals. This helps you manage your time and think about your life. What would you like to do? What kind of person do you want to be?

Dreams are something you hope or wish for. Dreams may be practical or they may be outrageous and out of reach. Perhaps you’d like to learn to speak Italian. That would be practical. Perhaps you want to fly with the Blue Angels. That may be an impossible dream.

While a dream may turn into a goal, goals are different from dreams. A goal is something you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to own your own business, run for the House of Representatives, get an advanced certification or a Masters Degree. A goal may be more practical than a dream, but both are important.

Visualization is an important tool for reaching your goals and dreams. Visualization allows you to picture yourself in that moment. You visualize what the goal or dream will feel like, sound like, even smell like. Experts say that the better we are at visualizing, the more likely we’ll reach our goals.

Making your goals a reality takes planning. Once you decide what you really want to do, you can’t just leave your goals and dreams floating out in space. You have to plan how you will achieve them. Here’s a piece of information about me that many of you may not know: I’ve run the Boston Marathon, not once but twice. In fact, I’ve run a total of twelve marathons. Did I just decide to run Boston and show up at the starting line in Hopkinton on Patriot’s Day in 1991 and again in 1996? No! I established a goal, planned a training schedule, followed it to the letter, and gradually achieved a level of fitness that would allow me to complete the 26.2-mile course.

Another example of planning for a goal: My friend Christie recently hiked 110 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Did she just drive to Hot Springs NC, march to Clingman’s Dome and then on to Fontana Dam? Hardly! She established a goal, she planned the route, and she trained by walking at least an hour every day. With a thirty-pound pack on her back, she put one foot in front of the other until she conquered the trail and achieved her goal.

What are your goals and dreams? Ben Stein (actor, comedian, author…you all remember him from my very favorite movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) said it best: “The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT.” Right on, Ben! To help you decide what you want, complete the following:

I want to improve:

I want to get better acquainted with:

I want to be better at:

I want be more involved in:

I want to visit:

I want to learn how to:

In five years, I want to be :

How to ‘unravel’ your goal. It would be my hope that you would achieve every one of your goals and dreams. You can, of course, but for this exercise, I want you to pick one. Then ask yourself, “What do I need to do to make my goal happen?” For instance, your goal may be to improve your trial practice skills. That’s the large goal that must be broken down into smaller goals to accomplish it. I call this ‘unraveling’ your goal. You might take an on-line course, you might volunteer to assist at a trial, you might do some research or ask a co-worker for tips. Then take one of those steps and unravel it further. If you decide to take an on-line course, you will need to research available courses, chose the one that best suits your needs, register, set aside time for participation and study, complete the course and then let your employer know about your new skills. Once unraveled and broken into manageable steps, you can move on to accomplish your goal by scheduling each step in your planner.

Your challenge: Choose a goal and unravel it so you know what steps you must take to achieve it. Then schedule appointments with yourself to complete those steps. In other words: Decide … Plan … Unravel … Schedule …Go for it!!! One more thing: Does anyone know how I join the Ben Stein Fan Club?

© 2008 Vicki Voisin, Inc.

Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, e-zine or website? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it: Vicki Voisin, also known as The Paralegal Mentor, publishes the bi-weekly ezine ‘Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence’ where she offers tips for paralegals and others who want to create lasting success in their personal and professional lives. Get tips and information at no cost at www.paralegalmentor.com.