A while back, at the school I work for, an organization known as Rachel’s Challenge came to our school to give a presentation. Of course, I had to interpret the entire thing, but just because you’re interpreting something doesn’t mean you can listen to the presentation as well. (This is especially fun when you get to interpret college classes or presentations. You can learn a lot through interpreting, and get paid to do it!)
It was extremely interesting to say the least. It was about the first student who died in the Columbine Shootings in 1999, Rachel Scott. After her death, an essay she wrote, along with her diaries, were found. This spurred her family to start the Rachel’s Challenge program, to encourage teenagers to (in a nutshell) always be kind, compassionate, and helpful to each other, and to reduce bullying, cliques, etc.
What I found most interesting, though, was a study they mentioned about setting goals. Rachel herself had apparently set many goals in her diaries, and had attained many of them. A major university performed a study (I don’t remember enough specific details about who did the study or the exact numbers that were mentioned, but this is the jist of it) about goals by asking their students if they: (1) kept a diary/journal and (2) if they had set and written down goals about their life. Several years later, the study interviewed the same people that they had talked to years prior. Those who had set goals and written them down (that seems to be the important bit) were, on average, more successful in life. Not just financially (though those who wrote down their goals DID make a significantly higher amount of money), but their goals had come to fruition more often than not, and they felt, on the whole, more content and happy. (I really want to find this study and read it in its entirety at some point in time, just haven’t done so yet.)
Part of the point of Rachel’s Challenge was to encourage young people to start setting, and writing down, their goals in life as well…
After it was all said and done, I thought about it and decided to go ahead and give it a shot. About 3 weeks ago, I put down 6 goals to “paper” (a .doc file on my computer) and outlined what the goal was, how I would accomplish it, and a rough timeline and plan of action.
The funny thing is, after 3 weeks I can already see how beneficial it is. I’ve always set goals mentally, but putting it in writing seems to be a very strong motivator. Unlike past goals that were just in my head, now I’m actively pursuing things related to my goals and actually having some success at it. I seem to feel much happier and, well, excited about the prospect of reaching these goals.
What I’ve found even more helpful is to share the goals with some of my closer friends, something I’ve never done before. Surprisingly (to me anyhow), the excitement I had seemed to be contagious, and spurred my friends to offer assistance in various ways to help me reach my goals. Some of them even set similar goals for themselves…
I don’t know, it’s just really thrilling to me, to see everything seeming to fall into place. Maybe this is all common sense to everyone else, but none of it ever occurred to me before. Now I feel confident that I can actually reach the majority of my goals within a reasonable timeframe. At the least, I’ll try my best, and the experience of failure will, hopefully, be enlightening as well.
A friend sent me this quote recently from the Book of Awesome (something I now want to buy myself). It seemed to match these thoughts to a degree, so I figured I’d share it:
“The next time your shoe catches on the top step at work, you trp stepping off the airport’s moving sidewalk, or you fall on a patch of ice outside your front door, remember that not too long ago you couldn’t walk at all. So your wipeout is really no big deal. As long as nobody saw you.”
So in, say, six months time, we’ll see where I’m at with my goals, and what I’ve learned. Hopefully a lot. And in this case, I don’t really care if my friends see my “failure”. Maybe they’ll learn from it too.