Setting goals with an eraser

Photo: http://mrg.bz/8Og813

The other day I walked around our new neighborhood in Istanbul to buy a pencil. I needed a pencil for my calendar, as I’ve found that using an old-fashioned calendar–the kind with a metal spiral, and a large picture that your turn over each month–helps me plan and schedule my daily tasks. It helps me meet daily goals. I use a pencil to write my goal for each day; I use a pen at the end of the day to check it off.

But what I’ve found myself doing is using the eraser to modify my daily goal if, at the end of the day, I didn’t meet it.

Wanted to read 10 pages but only got around to reading 5? No problem. Erase the 10, write in 5, and put a blue check mark by it. Did something completely unrelated to what I intended? That’s easy. Erase what I thought I would do and add it in somewhere later in the week.

I bought the pencil that day because I know I don’t get everything done just exactly when I think I will. And so I like to keep my calendar adjustable, clean, tidy.

Yes, I set my goals and erase them all with the same writing utensil.

My calendar helps me feel planned and productive. It’s tidiness ensures my mind isn’t focused on what I haven’t done, but on what I have, and what I still need to do.

In a way, such a practice is a metaphor of life.

The people we see as successful, we never see the goals they failed to meet.

The people who win public office, we never remember when they lost.

The people who graduate from college, we never know about the times they wanted to give up.

We don’t see people like a calendar with ugly scribbles.

No, we see the lives of others clean and tidy, like my nearly perfect looking calendar that shows all that I’ve accomplished in the past and nothing that I haven’t.  But at the same time, we may compare ourselves with those seemingly “perfect” people.

Let’s remember, though, that the process to beauty is rarely beautiful.  Let’s remember that our goals often change or are met with hardship. Let’s remember that the success we see in others’ lives probably followed a path of many erasures, just like our own.

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