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Created for HEIDI CONSULTS, by Madison (not her real name).

Created for HEIDI CONSULTS, by Madison (not her real name).

What’s the hardest question to answer – what do I want? Second hardest question – what am I willing to do to meet my goal(s)? I’m Madison, a graphic designer turned account executive in my early 30’s. I’m feeling very stuck in my current situation working for a studio that I don’t want to be at (for a whole host of reasons I won’t get into), but no other leads have panned out.

My husband is unemployed, so we need the income and the health insurance. I have dreams of having my own stationery business. I am considering an MBA. I am sending out tailored resumes to agencies. I am teaching two nights a week in addition to my full time job. I am a hamster spinning in my wheel.

Within in two minutes of talking to Heidi, she zeroed in on my problem. I have no clearly defined quantifiable goal and timeline. It’s akin to saying “I want to lose weight” and then running around from diet to diet, not really sticking with one thing, not committing.

I have loose ideas about teaching more classes, quitting the day job and throwing myself into my stationery business, but it’s all predicated on if my husband lands a job. I haven’t sat down and declared my goal in quantifiable terms with a timeline.

I haven’t said “I will lose 10 lbs by July 1st.”

Once you declare the goal in this manner (versus the ambiguous “I want to lose some weight”), you immediately know what you need to do to reach that goal: exercise more, say no to the chocolate cake, etc.

Even as I type this, I can see what a mess I’m in because I won’t write down and commit to a goal like “Within 4 months I will have a new job working in social media.”or “In the next 12 months I will earn $75,000 from my stationery business.”

I just want to get out of the situation I’m in, but with no real focus on what I’m moving toward.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

I’m afraid.

Being the breadwinner makes it tougher to take risks, for me anyway. I’ve felt like I’m just a hamster in the wheel for a while now, longer than I care to admit, and part of me knows I’m distracting myself with lots of things instead of focusing on one goal and committing myself to that one goal.

You can have everything, just not at the same time as it turns out.

Teaching is fulfilling for me, so I either have to find a way to make my goal happen while teaching or I have to be willing to sacrifice teaching if keeping the terrible, no good day job is an absolute must. I may even have to be willing to postpone goals in the short term, which makes the day-to-day feel even more bleak and pointless.

Should my husband find employment will I make the leap? Or will I find some other excuse as to why my goal is always out of reach, out of my control?

If I’m still just playing around with the idea of my own business, then I think I’ll be in the same place, but if I have that quantifiable goal and timeline, his becoming gainfully employed will be a trigger and I’ll know exactly what I need to do.

Heidi cut right to the chase. She held up the mirror. She refused to enable me in any further self-pity. She pointed out the one key step I have been dancing around – setting that quantifiable goal and corresponding timeline.

“What’s worse?” she asked me. “Setting the goal and perhaps missing the timeline by a month or two or never applying yourself and letting that goal just fade away?”

Why short change yourself?

The time passes the same whether you spend each day making choices to move yourself closer to your goal or to keep yourself in the same place. Each day gives the opportunity to choose to eat the chocolate cake or not.

Having the quantifiable goal and timeline makes the choice clear, even if it isn’t easy.

Madison, not her real name, is a graphic designer/account executive living in Colorado, getting with the plan and out of the hamster wheel.


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