I believe everyone, whatever your age, should have some life goals.
I donâ€™t mean your ordinary New Yearâ€™s resolution. Those are nice to have, of course, but everyone knows the diet you start on January 1st lasts until, um, maybe January 2nd. If you work hard at it.
And I donâ€™t mean your goal of selling a book or making the New York Times best seller list, although thatâ€™s what a lot of us would like to do. But those are goals that we can work toward but are truly not within our control.
I mean the kind of goal youâ€™d think about when youâ€™re lying there on your death bed and saying to yourself, â€œDarn, I wish I had. . .â€
There are just some things in life you want to do. If you donâ€™t think about them and write them down, time will slip by. Youâ€™ll be too busy, too old, too infirm, too caught up with job, family and day-to-day obligations until finally youâ€™ll find your chance to experience that particular dream has passed you by.
I learned this from my daughter, who had thyroid cancer. (Sheâ€™s fine now, thank goodness!) Apparently when the big â€œCâ€ rears itâ€™s frightening head, it starts you to thinking about your life and what you want to do. Mind you, her life goals are way different than mine. Her first, which she celebrated on her 30th birthday, was to do a bungee jump. (She was thoughtful enough not to tell me ahead of time so I wouldnâ€™t worry.)
Her next goal, accomplished in honor of her 35th birthday, was to climb the back side of Half Dome in Yosemite, no small accomplishment. (You can see a pattern here, right? Unlike her mom, sheâ€™s always been a jock.) Her most recent celebration had her jumping (safely, thank God!) out of an airplane!
Needless to say, my goals are somewhat less strenuous, though no less exciting for me.
As I was driving on the freeway to an Orange County RWA chapter meeting about a year ago, my career in the doldrums, when I decided I needed a new life goal. Within about a hundred feet (which can take a long time on the 91 Freeway), I realized Iâ€™d always wanted to be a standup comedienne. (Itâ€™s something about how Iâ€™ve always admired Carol Burnett.)
That afternoon when I returned home, I googled standup comedy classes. To my delight (the fates were clearly on my side), I found one starting the next day no more than five minutes from my house. It turned out learning to write jokes is an amazing art, almost like writing poetry, and itâ€™s harder than it looks. Since that time Iâ€™ve had standup gigs for alumnae meetings, senior citizen homes, womenâ€™s clubs and writing groups. Iâ€™ve even been paid a time or two.
Itâ€™s not that I want to make a career of being a standup comic. Heck, I canâ€™t even stay up late enough to watch the Jay Leno show. But, by golly, Iâ€™ve achieved a life goal and had fun doing it. (If youâ€™re interested in my jokes, check my Web site at NovelTalk.com. Weâ€™ll change the jokes often. Iâ€™ll also be teaching an online joke-writing class in September 2006.)
More recently it occurred to me that Iâ€™d never ridden on a motorcycle. Clearly, I had a deprived youth. So the husband of my critique partner agreed to help me celebrate my recent birthday (those birthdays that end in â€œ0″ or â€œ5″ are really good occasions to let it all out) by taking me riding on his humongous Harley. What fun! And it wasnâ€™t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. (Maybe I should have given that motorcycle crowd in high school a closer look.)
Iâ€™ve been very fortunate in my life, so there is not much I havenâ€™t done that I wanted to do. But I still have a list.
Iâ€™ve seen grizzly bears in the wild, but Iâ€™d like to see polar bears too. And I want to hear wolves howling in the wilderness.
Chances are good my goals wonâ€™t resemble yours. But thatâ€™s okay. You might want to learn to knit, play the piano or be a circus aerialist or clown just for the fun of it.
The point is, you need to sit down with yourself and think about what youâ€™d regret missing out on if that bus barreling down the road suddenly hit you.
Some people advocate you come up with 25 goals. But I say start small. You can always add more later.
WTG, Barb, on your sky dive. Not my cuppa, but glad you enjoyed it.
I’ll be speaking at OCC in July, Advanced Tools of the Trade, not humor. But if someone should ask, I’m sure I can work in a bit of my standup routine.
on January 13, 2006
Way to go, Charlotte! I’m going to sit down and write some goals for myself. I did manage to accomplish one goal I had my whole life – to go sky diving. I finally went a week before my 50th birthday. Please, please speak at OCC about humor again – and please do some of your routines. I haven’t checked out your website yet, but I bet you have some hilarious bits about writing and writers (a testiment to your skill as a writer because we’re all so normal and deadly serious). See you at OCC.
on January 5, 2006
The tables have turned, my friend. Now it feels as if you are my mentor as I admire your amazing achievements over these past several years. Your courage, tenacity and love of life is downright inspiring!
You already know my goal — to make my writing career my number one priority in 2006.