When I was a young girl, my parents made goals. Once, there was talk of us taking a summer vacation together down on the sandy beaches of Rhode Island. Mom and Dad spent the year saving money toward a house we could rent.
That vacation never happened. Dad suffered a horrible cut on his ankle. It got infected, and, instead of enjoying the beach, he was hospitalized for a month.
Of course, we kids were disappointed, but we understood why. That vacation was a goal, and something beyond our parents’ control prevented it from happening.
On the other hand, when my parents promised something, we knew without a doubt it was going to happen. And if we ever thought to question them, their answer was always the same: “Trust us; it’s going to happen. Because we said so.”
Dad said he was going to become a pilot… and he did.
Mom said she was going back to college… and she did.
Dad told us we’d go to the beach and swim every night after supper during the warm months of summer every year… and we did.
Mom said she’d teach me how to cook on weekends… and she did.
Here’s the thing: Goals are wonderful to have. But truthfully, sometimes we reach them and sometimes we don’t. (If you’ve been taking steps to become a travel writer, you’ll understand this.) A goal is something we strive for and should be celebrated when achieved.
However, a goal that doesn’t materialize often becomes something we simply shrug off and say, “Oh well, maybe next time.”
But a promise? That’s something else entirely.
Think about it. When someone actually promises you something and breaks that promise, you feel like crap, right? And, when you make a promise that you can’t keep, you feel even worse.
I gave up making goals in 2017. I found them too easy to write down and even easier to erase, moving them over into “next year” if I didn’t see them materialize.
Instead, I decided to make myself promises. And it paid off.
In the first month of 2017, I set a goal of securing 12 media trips. But then my thinking changed, and I replaced the word “goal” in my mind with “promise.” This made me feel like I needed to work harder and smarter to make these trips happen. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to let myself down. I didn’t want to feel like crap.
This coming weekend will mark media trip no. 16, with a weekend stay about 100 miles away on assignment for a print magazine.
At the beginning of 2017, I also set another goal to have 225 articles published by Dec. 31. I could have easily kept this in the goal column. But I didn’t.
Instead, I promised myself 225 articles, and again, I felt that I dug deeper for the most interesting angles to write about and searched longer to find the very best “home” for each of them.
In the end, I published more than 250 articles in 2017.
For me, changing my mindset from goals to promises has helped out tremendously. Like anyone else, I try extra hard not to break a promise. I take each one seriously and do everything in my power to make them happen.
2018’s promise list will be shorter and much more focused. The year ahead has big things in store for me. Stupendous things. Why? Because I said so.
Maybe you will, as well.
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