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Achieve More with Linked Goals

Photo Credit: John Titgemeyer

Photo Credit: John Titgemeyer

Readers of my blog posts know that I have a big goal this year to walk the Bruce Trail end-to-end.  It is now 7 months in and I am approximately 40% complete, having walked weekly through three seasons.

One advantage of living in Mississauga and choosing the Bruce is that half the trail is accessible by driving in day trips.  Soon, we are going to be out of reach that way and so our trips will be less frequent but more intense.  I am enjoying walking so much that I wish the trail was longer, but I know that once I do finish there are side trips to do.

My original goal was to do it all in a year, but at the pace I’m walking, it isn’t possible.  I am confident though that I will finish.

While the experience of walking from Niagara Falls to Orangeville so far has been exciting and liberating, I could not do it without having some other goals.  The precursor to walking the Bruce was training to walk the Bruce.  I did this by first setting a goal to walk a minimum of 100 miles per month.  This forced me to get on my feet, to stand longer, to take the stairs, to park my car at the end of parking lots and to walk the dog more. I started getting up earlier to get in steps before work.  I started bringing my walking shoes to the office, so that I could walk at lunch.  At first some of my office mates laughed at my outfit mismatches, but they now see that having my shoes there helped me stay committed.  Currently I am nine months into this goal and I’ve made it each time.

The next goal was to eat better, to eat things that would help give me energy.  I decided that in order to do this, I need to try foods that I wouldn’t normally eat.  Just this morning I had a smoothie made of Swiss chard, mangoes, and coconut milk. Sound gross to you?  It did for me at first blush, but I thought it sounded like a good use of Swiss chard, a vegetable that I don’t crave but somehow got in my garden. The recipe was in Canadian Living.  I also tried a menu plan idea laid out in Redbook that included recipes for things to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole week.  As far as food goes, I like what I like and I thought I would have a hard time eating everything from a set menu but quite frankly it was all good; so good that some of the items I’ve made repeatedly ever since.  Thanks to eating better, and walking, I can do more physically than I have been able to do in a very long time.

Another related goal was to work hard, play hard.  This means I needed to get focused on being focused on work, getting work done and then getting out there and fully committing to leisure.  And then, in leisure, not thinking about work.  Mentally, I started visualizing egg timers while I worked and it helped me to think about taking out routines or things that I did that really didn’t provide value.  I’ll say that this goal is a work in progress, and I have more successes than failures.

Overarching is a goal to give myself permission to screw up sometimes but to dust myself off and get back up on the horse and keep going.  When I was young, I was learning how to ski and had a bad crash, psyched myself out and never skied again.  In my life, I’ve seen this theme repeat itself with other experiences.  I’m sure I would feel differently about skiing if I had gotten back up on skis right away.  I’ve had a couple of spectacular falls on my walking trip and on the days that these have happened, I’ve simply gone to the maps to figure out how to keep going, perhaps just going a little shorter distance next time to regain my confidence, but not to change the routine.

Perhaps the most significant of the goals is to suck it up.  I used to have a bad habit of complaining about aches and pains and inconveniences.  I don’t have one hundred million dollars and therefore can’t afford Sherpas for my walks; if I was going to do this, I was going to have to find the inner strength to do it.  Complaining about how much my feet hurt, or about the bruises from my occasional falls adds nothing to the experience and might possibly discourage others from trying it.  Pushing myself has given me the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful country available at my back door.  What is there to complain about?

The purpose of this post is not to outline my accomplishments, although I’m pretty proud of them.  The purpose was to suggest that you can’t achieve big goals without establishing linked goals too.

What are your goals?  How can they be linked together? How do they influence everything you do, in work and life?

Answer those questions and you’ll be one step closer to happiness.


It is Sunday, July 17th and I’m attempting to enjoy some downtime. I committed to doing nothing today.

Actually, that’s not possible for me. Since getting up at 7:45 a.m., I have watered the flowers, folded and put away laundry, made pickled peppers, reheated breakfast and lunch, turned on the dishwasher, corresponded with friends on Facebook, ordered a decorative item for my living room, walked the dog, picked blackberries in the field and have taken a shower. For the past two hours, I have been reading magazines and enjoying sitting in a lounge chair.

This is the closest I can really get to doing nothing.

While we were on our dog walk, my husband started making suggestions about what we could do today. I commented that because of the Honda Indy, any drive east would be futile, and any drive west would be equally busy for all the people avoiding going east. I suggested that we stay in, enjoy our yard and relax, maybe even take a nap.

And then I came across this recipe for a green smoothie with swiss chard and mangoes.

I said to myself, “maybe I should just saunter up to the store for the mangoes”.

It sounded like an amazing breakfast for tomorrow. But that would mean putting on shoes.

I wonder about the rest of you. How easy is it for you to enjoy downtime? I have a 50/50 chance each July of having an opportunity to enjoy downtime. With most clients on vacation or up at the cottage, the volume of work that might spill into a weekend decreases. I was able to leave work on Friday without anything to do.

But then there’s that problem of trying to figure out how to have “down” in your downtime.

If you have a recommendation for this, I’m all ears. Meanwhile, I will finish this blog post and move on.

Hard Candy


Photo Credit: Brad Montgomery, Flickr

Photo Credit: Brad Montgomery, Flickr

One of my cousins came up for a visit recently.  This was her first time in Toronto.  One of my sisters joined her, making this like a family reunion of sorts.

I don’t remember the last time the three of us were together, in the same room, at the same time.  It was likely at least ten years ago, and possibly closer to twenty.  I was looking forward to their trip for a long time.  I have a small family and they are far away.  Reunions are few and far between.

With that much gap in our seeing of each other, we spent a lot of time reminiscing. We’ve lost many of our senior relatives in recent years and it was fun to remember some of them.

When you talk about people who are no longer here, you are essentially talking about the time periods when they existed—the politics, the trends, the fashion and the food.

People of my grandparent’s era were significantly older in thought, in dress style, and in home outfitting in comparison to today’s grandparents.   This really came true for me a few years ago when I became a great aunt for the first time.  I loved my own great aunts dearly, but they were a part of the blue rinse set, wore their Sunday best to go to the grocery store, and I can’t imagine them doing the things I do today, even at their hippest moments.

My Grandma Lile, the grandmother my cousin, sister and I have in common, was the queen of hard candy.  She had this beautiful glass dish with a lid on it, which I inherited when she died, but have never used.  I keep it for the memories.  Grandma Lile made sure that glass dish was full of Brach’s butterscotch candies, red hots, rootbeer barrels, and peppermints.  The candy was always fresh in that dish, reflecting her desire to have something special around when her grandchildren visited.  My cousin thought it was a real hoot when I pulled out that dish to show to her.

Thinking about human resources, I wonder how many dishes of hard candy we have sitting out there in use.  I’m not talking about the candy dishes located in countless cubicles of everyday HR folk, you know, the ones that you put out with your leftover Halloween candy, to entice people in, to trust you, like you’re the witch in Hansel and Gretel, so that you can somehow entrap them and measure their fingers.  Those candy dishes are perfectly fine.

Instead, I’m talking about really old-fashioned people-related policies and procedures that sound nice in theory but are really quite irrelevant in today’s world, or potentially harmful to employee experience.

Walking someone out on the day they quit.

Performance reviews with ratings from 1-10 on attitude and attendance.

Traditional benefits.

Bureaucratic attendance management practices.

Paper-based job application forms.

I suppose all of these had good purpose, way back when, but now they feel like a dish of hard candy.

What is your organization’s hard candy?  If it isn’t serving the right purpose, throw it out.