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Perspectives While Walking – Goal Setting

July 1, 2013 · 606 comments

in Life, Personal Finance

The evening started with a walk.

The night was perfect.  Even though it was almost the 4th of July, the weather made it seem more like Halloween.  It was raining lightly, and the breeze was blowing softly.   It was just what I needed.

What made this walk so wonderful?  It just WAS.  See, normally when I exercise, I do it with the intent of working my hardest.  I want to maximize my workout and do it right.  It is part of being such a fun perfectionist I suppose. However, this time, I couldn’t work hard.  My allergies were acting up, which means my asthma was acting up, so I had to walk slow.

Walking slow was a gift.

Without even trying, I noticed everything around me.

Quite often, I try to pay attention, but I just can’t.  My mind wanders, my pace quickens.  Not this time though. With no choice but to go at a leisurely pace, I noticed things that I normally wouldn’t focus on. Sure I always hear the birds and see them fly by.  But this time, little things resonated with me.  I heard music from a distant graduation party, and then remembered the sounds of my brother’s stereo that would be blaring late-70s rock music when I was growing up.  I heard the sound of a buzz saw, and thought back to my dad working on one project or another in the backyard.  I smelled a bonfire that was somehow surviving the light rain, and thought of burning leaves up north as a child.  It became a blend of current and past, and no thoughts of the future.

On my way home, the birds were no longer flying around, but the bats were instead.  As the light dimmed, I did think a bit about how nice it is to enjoy this time.  So often, I focus on goals and the future, without giving nearly enough regard to the situation today.  What I have been realizing more and more though is that while it is responsible to plan for the future, it does not mean you have to suffer today. There needs to be a balance between responsible living and enjoying life.

Of course, I am not advocating a devil-may-care attitude of hedonistic spending.  What I am suggesting is evaluating your goals once in awhile and maybe giving yourself a break.   So often, people get caught up in the rigidity of a goal and never take a moment to celebrate, or to adjust their goal to a new life circumstance.  Is it worth sacrificing so much now just so you can retire when you are 50?  Do you really even want to retire when you are 50, or does it just sound fun?

I am not here to judge anyone’s goals or life’s wishes.  I am just suggesting people take the time to evaluate their life and what they truly want every once in awhile.  I know what I wanted at 30 is different than what I wanted at 40 and even different than what I want now at 45.  For example, back when I wasn’t working, I put so much pressure on myself to save as much money as I could so that our house would be paid off at the same time as my youngest child headed off to college.  If we did that, then we could save a lot of money, and my husband could retire in his early/mid 50’s.   Basically, I felt guilty because my husband was making money and I wasn’t, and I wanted to give him a break in the future. Not only did I focus on and stress out about saving money, but also on how I invested our money.   Guess what?  My husband doesn’t care (and never did) if he retires before he is 55 or not, he likes working. So, it turns out I created a goal based on self-imposed guilt, which is one of the dumber reasons to create a goal. Of course, I didn’t realize all of that at the time, but it does show why it is so important to evaluate goals periodically, and also discuss goals with your spouse/significant other.

So, take a moment and learn from my mistakes.  Get out there and enjoy today, and at some point, do some thinking and decide what you REALLY want for the future.  (Remember, enjoying today does refer to spending money, but just getting out and enjoying life.)  Keep in mind, saving for retirement and having a reasonable emergency fund is still a requirement.  But think about your future goals and if they affect your quality of life.  Are they too confining?  Do you still want what you are striving for?

Now it is your turn.  Have your goals changed over time??






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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Husband of Everyday Tips and Thoughts July 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm

You are so right about re-evaluating goals. The goal of paying off the house is certainly a good one – but it doesn’t trump enjoying the kids, having a nice dinner once in a while with my lovely wife, and a lot of other things that make life enjoyable as you live it rather than in some theoretical future.


Alex Dumpfree July 13, 2013 at 9:48 am

That’s it!! I also think same as yourself while taking a slow walk.Many thoughts of past and future come and goes by.At the last I think myself that anyhow I have to make life enjoyable as much as I can…..:)


The Phroogal Jason July 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm

When I traveled around the world in 2012, I found the down time waiting for planes, trains and rides (sometimes hours) was a great way to reflect. It was a great way to reflect on the adventures that happened and I was able to think of them in many ways. Those memories are ingrained forever.
I’ve taken that lesson living back in the US. I take time during the day to relax and to think of the day and evaluate my goals.


Simon July 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

Maybe in addition to walking, I think downtime or some relaxing time is great and offers us a chance to reflect on our lives, how far we have come and in what direction we want to head. My goals have changed dramatically over time, yes there are those long-term goals like owning my own home that don’t change much, but the details of how to make that happen changes quite often with changing financial situations.


Laura July 19, 2013 at 12:45 am

Working in a high-pressure office I used to always be on edge, waiting for the next big thing that had to be fixed – as a result I never really appreciated things as they were happening. I was always looking ahead. Since I left that position my stress levels are lower, my health is better and I feel like I have a better perspective as life unfolds. I feel it has given me a better idea of what I really want for the future – and it’s more than a big 401k.


first gen American July 24, 2013 at 4:23 am

Goals have definitely changed here. I had a paid off house and wet back into debt so that my mom can live with us soon. Coincidentally I can now walk my son to preschool as I live “in-town” now and its been great taking that extra 20 minutes in the morning to slow down and enjoy my surroumdimgs.

Babci is always telling me to slow down and take my time. I guess she realized that rushing and being overacheduled doesn’t adtually make life better but worse.


Camelia Serrata July 24, 2013 at 6:19 am

Goals for me changes every year, pretty sure most people thinks that their goals doesn’t changes, it’s just impossible.


Shelly Slader July 31, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I have felt that same way. I always used to be so busy with all the chores and things I needed to get done. It seemed like a never ending list that I could never finish! Eventually, I decided to hire house cleaning services in Miami FL and it has made all the difference. I just enjoy more! Instead of being bogged down with meaningless tasks, I now have time to spend with my children and to enjoy things like baking and crafting. It’s so important to enjoy today.


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