Goal Setting: Ongoing Projects

An area where goal setting gets tricky is the ongoing projects and efforts in your life. It’s easy to say “My goal is to write 10 pages a week for the next month.” Your end is clearly defined and easily measurable. But how do you define your goals for physical fitness, for time with your family, for reading? With no set end to the task, it’s harder to set specific goals.

One approach, and the one I like best, is to make the process itself a goal. Don’t phrase your victory conditions in terms of work accomplished, but in terms of effort made. For example, pursuing new assignments is a big part of my job. Without new work coming in, I have to go work in an office or something — a fate I’d rather avoid if I can. This is a sisyphean task: unending and often difficult. Each week, I promise myself I’ll apply for x gigs, send in y article pitches, and spend z hours on my book proposal.

I came across an interesting structure for this kind of goal-setting in a book by Drs. Roizen & Oz, the “YOU: The Owner’s Manual” guys. It’s not theirs originally, but they’re who introduced me to the 5 to 1 goal pyramid. Their example used this concept as a guide for helping your kids understand nutrition and fitness:

  • 5 servings of veggies every day
  • 4 servings of fat-free dairy
  • 3  compliments to create a positive atmosphere
  • 2 hours or less of screen time
  • 1 hour of active play or exercise
If a mnemonic like that is easy enough for an elementary school student, I’m reasonably confident I could use it without too much trouble. Maybe I could structure it thusly:
  • 5 daily blocks of writing on current, paying projects
  • 4 acts of marketing and promotion daily
  • 3  hours of work on book proposals each week
  • 2 days off weekly to spend with my family and recharge the motor
  • 1 magazine article proposal every day
That might be too simplistic for the reality, but you get the general idea. Ultimately, how you structure these things is less important than being committed about following it. For my wife, a sticker on the calendar for every day she hits the gym is all the formal planning she needs.
Thanks for listening.

More About School Lunches

Readers of some of my earlier posts are by now aware of how alarming I find the school lunch situation in our public schools. I’ve found a couple more videos by experts in the field about what’s wrong and what we can do about it.   Enjoy.

Thanks for listening.

RANT: School Nutrition

There’s a new program at my oldest son’s school called Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) that encourages dads to come in and volunteer some time during school hours. Since I have a flexible schedule and I kind of like my kid, I signed up. It’s a good deal. I spend more time with my boy, help out in class, and provide a positive male role model for some kids who have to go without.

Here’s my problem.Part of the program means I get a ticket for free lunch at the cafeteria. Here are some examples of  the entrees available at my son’s school:

  • Palm-sized disks of pepperoni pizza.
  • Chicken nuggets with tater tots
  • Cinnamon roll with chocolate milk (this is breakfast)
  • French bread with tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni
  • Yogurt with a “granola mix” consisting mostly of Froot Loops, Cheerios and chocolate chips.

You can click here to visit a page where you can access menus in the top left corner. Ironically, it’s titled “Nutrition Services Offers Healthy School Meals.”

There’s an optional salad bar on the way to the entree line, boasting iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices and some bell pepper sticks. Drinks are milk, chocolate milk or fruit juice.

My question is very simple:

How do they expect students to succeed full of that much grease and carbohydrate in the afternoon?

It’s no wonder kids have trouble staying awake or sitting still during the second half of the school year. Where are the whole grains, the lean proteins? Where’s the freaking water?

I don’t know what to do about this, or even if I can do anything – other than have my kid start packing a lunch from now on. I once shared a plane ride with a reporter from Colorado Springs who was getting an advanced degree from Johns Hopkins just so school boards would listen to him about things like this. Makes me pessimistic about my chances.

Any black belts candidates out there who need an idea for a project?

Thanks for listening.