On the topic of Goal setting – Planning the Path

I was asked to talk about goal-setting and my testimonial about the obstacles in life and how they make one stronger. The audience would turn out to be listeners to this Christian radio show. After much pondering, my thoughts went right back the banner image that I selected- the path.

I hardly think anyone would choose to go through his/her life without planning a path. If he/she did not, someone in his life would do the planning for him. The outcome may be positive, and may also to the person’s complete demise. Planning the path for life is a skill that will take years to master. Most of us likely will not have mastery of this know-how until we have actually taken some wrong turns from which I have learned our lessons. For people who play a sport, they will say that life planning is like figuring out what score you want to get at the end of the game and you just go for the goal/net/basket, depending on the competitive sport in which one is involved. Think about this though, if that were true, how does one face life when the game is lost at the end of innings/quarters?

A trip I remember clearly to this day was a ski trip to Vail, Colorado. One thing quite different about Vail was that the lifts are extravagantly fast and they take to you some of the most challenging slopes at the top of the mountains. Being a recreational skier, after a long day of co-mingling with snowboarders and skiers on the slope, I decided to take the last lift up the slope to end the day. The lift, traveling at three times the speed of a regular ski lift, went up the hills passing one hump after another. I knew that, under normal circumstances, the downhill ski would take approximately 25 minutes to complete. As the lift zipped through the forest, the night began to fold in and a storm approaching. I was finally dropped off at the mountain top along with a dozen other skiers of various levels. The way the course was designed, one can take either the Black diamond, the Blue intermediate, or the Green beginner slope, all leading to the same destination- the café at the bottom of the slope. As everyone scattered to find their way down before the snow storm came, I had a decision to make.

Prior to decisions, there have to be distinctions. Just like life, we all know the end of the road is the culmination of our journey- retirement, celebration, illness, and the inevitable departure. So the focus needs to be the LIVING portion of life, the how to get there part, the journey itself. As I stood at the top of the ridge, I assessed the kind of risk that I was will to afford, the speed of downhill crossing that I could handled at the energy and skill level that I had, the chill factor that I could endure during the turns facing the cliff not shielded from the blizzard, the company that I would be able to keep at the most treacherous declines, and most important of all, the length of time that I had to get there. Once I was able to distinct the possibilities and impossibilities, I went after a group of five skiers who were going downhill with their ski coach.

What happened next, while well planned, were not expected. That is also like life, you can plan the course, but not your steps. Surprised may come in a matter of seconds, the planning was to make “handling the surprises” easier on you. As I went downhill, at every turn, there was the black, blue, and green sign. At times, I needed to abandon the group that I was skiing with and take the blue path to speed up the process. I would then meet up with another group of people who were desperately trying to figure out which way to go at the mouth of the next turn. At every major turn of fork, I re-assess and make decision about which of the three colored path to choose, all the while with ice, snow, and wind cutting across my face, blurring my vision. My goal had not changed, but the way to safely and soundly get there required constant re-thinking, re-evaluation, and re-assessing. I was the first to get to the bottom of the hill. Then I saw the first group with their coach quickly approaching the bottom. As the last couple zipped down the hill, the lights on the slopes went out and a huge snow tracker went up the hill to smooth out the paths for the next pack of challengers that would be moving in tomorrow morning.

That solo ski trip changed my outlook on life. You may be standing at the very first perilous turn on the slope of your life. Assess your skills, you companions, capacity, knowledge, and decide the level of risk that you can afford before taking that next step. If you are standing at a fork, or perhaps near the end of the journey, planning that path has never been more crucial. The key is that, you CANNOT afford to stay in the same place. That is simply not an option, unless your goal is to freeze in time and space with nothing to show for at the end of the challenge.

God has given us too many gifts, talents, and resources in life for us not to dream big and go for the great challenges in life. In one way or the other, we all pretty much know our goals in life, it is the PATH to get to that point that will make your life stand out or even become a legacy.

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About 黃雯雯 博士

* 18 years of experience in education. Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership * Included in the Who's Who in Education in 2009 * Winner in Toastmasters International Speech Contest * Appearances throughout the year * Named Best Teacher by Southern California Chinese School Council * Won numerous Table Topics Speech and Evaluator Awards. Vice President of PR with Toastmasters local chapter in Southern California.
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