Pattern of goal setting

Learning to sew was a struggle at times, but my mom was there for me whenever I had questions. She told me to think about what I was doing before I did it, and follow the pattern. A sewing pattern is something that you follow to get a desired result. It could be as complex as a fractal quilt, or as simple as a t-shirt.

I can remember when I made my first quilt. I lived in Tennessee with my mom and step dad. We had recently moved there and I had nothing to do with my free time, so I spent the majority of it at home. I played a lot of video games at that time, but I would get bored with that and would hang out with my mom in her sewing room. It was an extra room originally designed to be a dance studio, it even had a wall that was all mirror. It was actually pretty cool. I had a basic warehouse job at the time that wasn’t challenging, so I had a lot of spare time.
I first started just messing around on one of my moms sewing machines, sewing a couple of scraps together to make a squarish pattern. I decided to make it into a pillow, and so my first project was created. I was really proud of that pillow. It was ugly, but I had made it. Next I made a lap quilt with the guidance of my mother. It was green and blue. I still have it today, and it held up the whole time. I made a few more things after that, and I really enjoyed it.

After many years of not sewing, I picked it up again as a hobby. It was fun to create things, but I was pretty busy with life and didn’t have that much time to focus on it. I know if I stuck with it, I would be better. I still enjoy the art of making things, but currently I don’t sew. I guess life has gotten in the way and that minor passion has just gone to the wayside.

But I’ll always remember to follow the pattern. It’s kind of like life. When you are a kid, people tell you to follow the rules (pattern). As you grow, you find out that not only can you NOT follow the rules, but you can break them. Sometimes breaking the rules is fun, and other times it can be very bad. Either way, life has a way to remind you that you should be following a pattern.
Patterns are goals. Setting a goal is like creating a pattern. The more detailed the pattern, the better the result. If you make a sewing pattern with a couple large pieces sewn together with directions saying “use cotton fabric”, and that’s it, you’re going to have a pretty lackluster product. But when you get detailed about how to make a quilt, cutting every triangle, star, square, or circle, how to sew them together, what your seam allowance should be, what material to use, and what color scheme to use, you will have a beautiful end product.

The same principles can be used for life. Setting goals should be as detailed as possible, almost to the point of being too detailed. Setting a goal to lose weight, or eat better isn’t good enough. Each day needs to be planned out, down to each meal, what time you wake up, how much sleep you get, when to eat, how much water, and when to exercise. That’s the “cutting” phase of a goal; you are planning. Next is the “sewing” phase, or the action. Executing the goal is the most important part, and that is where most people fall apart.

We are great at making plans. We read magazines, books, and blogs about how to get organized, exercise, meal plan, and time management. Then when it comes to action, life hits you in the face. You have a million other things you are trying diffuse, and making a simple change in your life isn’t going to work. Your child doesn’t wake up before 7 AM, doesn’t eat anything outside of bread and cheese, and refuses to brush their teeth. You scramble every day just to keep them alive, so how can you work on yourself?

It’s hard, and there isn’t a simple answer. But to accomplish your goals, something has to give. Something has to happen. So either you make that goal happen, or you will be working to make someone else’s goal happen. Planning without action is a wish, it’s a day-dream.

So lets review what I’m talking about. First, we need to set goals. Not just simple goals, but complex goals. Let me give you some guidance on how to do that.

– Step 1: General Topic

You should first decide on what you want to achieve. This is the goal everyone thinks about. Lose weight, eat better, learn a subject, or anything broad. Don’t get too specific yet, and don’t think too much into it. This is kind of your gut reaction.

– Step 2: Get Specific

After you get your topic, next is to get specific. Define your goal so that you can measure it. Lose weight? How much weight? In what time frame? Get as detailed as you can.
A little warning about this step. Once you start seeing what you really want, and you define the exact thing you will accomplish, it can be a little daunting, and you will question yourself and could even talk yourself out of it. Find some motivation, because it’s just going to get harder.

– Step 3: Plan

That’s right, now it’s the meat and potatoes of the goal: how you will accomplish it. This is where you start researching what you need. What should I eat? How often? When should I work out? What types of workouts? What skill do I need to learn? Write everything down, make more than one list and compare.
This is where you start planning your minutes and hours. You can make daily, weekly or monthly planners. It’s good to break it down to each day so you don’t get overwhelmed, but you still need a long-term track so you can see where you’re going. The key is to trust the plan.

– Step 4: Execute

This is the hardest part. By the time you get here, your mind is frazzled and you can’t think straight. You’re questioning yourself. Did I make a good enough plan? Is this goal worth it? Do I have all the tools I need?
This is the time you need that motivation. Everyone is different, so I can’t generalize how to get started. You need to look into yourself and find the flame that drives you forward. Find a reason for each of your goals and meditate on that.

Goals are a tricky subject and I’m going to explore it more. They can be amazing if done properly, and devastating when missed. But we all have something we want to accomplish, and we need to understand the process. Just like sewing from a pattern versus sewing without one.
What is a goal you have?