Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Goals vs. Wishes

by G.M. Malliet

Years ago, I read an interview with comedian and actor Drew Carey in which he talked about how he'd achieved success in his career. The world is full of talented would-be comedians and actors, after all. How did Drew manage, after years of struggle, finally to rise to the top of his profession?

His secret was simple: He decided exactly what he wanted to achieve - his goal - and he wrote it down. Then he pinned his goal somewhere where he would see it each each day - on the fridge or the bathroom mirror. His reasoning? "If it's not visible and in your face all the time, it's not a goal. It's a wish."

His good advice has stayed with me. The tendency to wish and dream and hope is part of any writer's makeup - certainly it's part of mine. At what point do you decide you're serious? I think it's at the moment you write down when you're going to be a published author - by what date. What kind of book you're going to write. How many hours you're going to devote to your manuscript. How many pages long it's going to be.

Or anything else that makes the dream specific and alive to you. If you are off by a few pages or even years, what difference does it make when you do reach your goal?

As this is the time of year when we set new goals, here's mine: Within the next three years, I want to spend time in Italy. Not just a vacation, but a real immersion in the country. I want to wake up each day to the rolling landscape, and visit the markets blooming with the different-colored harvests of the seasons. To learn how to cook authentic Italian meals. To share those meals with friends - meals that go on for hours. To see the works of artists who helped invent art as we now know it. To wallow in the sense of limitless time - time to shop, to sip coffee, to people watch, to visit museums, to speculate and to dream. There are few places in the world that allow and encourage this way of life outside of Italy.

If I put money aside for this adventure, the only thing really getting in my way is the language. I tell myself I've never been good at learning languages - that I have one of those brains hard-wired just for English. But with sufficient motivation I know I can learn Italian, even at my great age. The motivation is to be able to purchase Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar and fruits and vegetables from a vendor who speaks no English, and to be able to do this with with more than my point, nod, and smile methods of the past. 

So here's the first step that will take me to my overall goal, and I'm writing it down and printing it out: 

I will spend one hour a day in 2011 studying Italian online.

Not a wish, but a goal.

[The photo at right of the happy couple was taken in Cortona, Italy, the perfect place to sip coffee and people watch. The photo at top is from outside a grocers shop in Cortona. And I think the photo in the center is of a place where actor George Clooney stays when he's in Italy. I wonder if the struggling young actor George wrote down his goals, too.]

G.M. Malliet |
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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great post and it makes so much sense. Good luck with your Italian studies, Gin!

Vicki Doudera said...

Buona Fortuna, carissima Gin. Volio te visitare in Italia!

PS Gave "Death and the Lit Chick" in our bookclub's Yankee Swap last night.

G.M. Malliet said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I will need it!
Vicki, I'm almost afraid to ask what you got for the swap!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I once heard a speaker say "a goal is a dream that burns in your belly." A goal is something you elevate from dream/wish status, turning it from passive to active. Embracing that idea is when my whole life changed and I turned dreaming about being an author into a reality.

I have no doubt, Gin, you will achieve your goal in learning Italian and spending time in Italy.

Darrell James said...

Gin- I've always been a believer in and practitioner of having concrete goals, and using the power of visuailzation and affirmation to back them up. (I wouldn't be here if I didn't.)

I'll see one of my goals come to fruition this year with the release of my first novel. I'm sure you'll see your 2011 goals come true as well. Good luck with the language courses.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Go for it! I love the firm resolve that sits beneath the word "goal." I'll look forward to an Italy-inspired novel from you one day!

Alan Orloff said...

Good luck, Gin! If you set your mind to it, I know you'll be in Italy in no time. Just be sure to get a villa big enough to accommodate visitors!

Keith Raffel said...

Gin, I wish you buona fortuna.

Great photos, too. Can we come visit?

Me? I do have goals. Still, I think the old proverb applies to my life: "Man plans, God laughs."

G.M. Malliet said...

The Inkspotters are all invited, of course!

Alice Loweecey said...

Good luck and have fun learning Italian, Gin! Thanks to my Italian relatives, I can say a few words and phrases--none G-rated!

Julia Buckley said...

GM, what a great resolution! I ordered a "beautiful Italy" calendar this year, but I've never made resolutions to get me closer to that country.