Monday, April 12, 2010

Turn Around

A few weeks ago, I wrote that taking even baby steps might help get us on track to our goals. Like the Alcoholics Anonymous motto, perhaps we just need to take One Day at a Time.

"Well, taking baby steps forward is plenty good and all," one reader wrote. "But what about when you take several steps backward? Sometimes you need to acknowledge your goal is futile and just give up."

Hmm. Yes, that comment is something to consider.

Let's say, for example, you're a woman who always aspired to be five-foot-seven. If you're middle-aged and stand five-foot-two, in shoes (hypothetically speaking, of course), it's time to cash that dream in for a new one.

Yes, some goals probably are unrealistic. Certain circumstances in life are locked in. Some objectives, due to age, genetics, health or other factors, can't be achieved, no matter how hard we try.

So where is the line drawn? What's possible and what's fully implausible? If we start off with the odds stacked against us, or take several steps backward, when should we decide to just call it quits?

Do we give up on losing weight, because we've regained the ten pounds we previously lost? Do we toss the idea for a new career, because we failed a required college course? Do we say, screw the possibility of seeing our grandchildren grow up, because our cholesterol and blood pressure have already risen off the charts?

What we need to decide, when contemplating seemingly insurmountable goals, is whether they're truly impossible or simply difficult. And that differentiation is, well, difficult in itself.

My friend Cindy compared goals and missteps along the way to driving on the turnpike. "If you want to be headed east and find yourself going west, do you simply say, 'Well, I'm already going west, so even if it's the wrong direction, maybe I should just keep going this way?' Or do you turn around?"

I've found it's an analogy that works for most of my own life goals.

If it's possible to truly reach your destination by reversing direction, even if it means traveling many more miles, are you willing to do so? Or do you just keep heading in the wrong direction, because you can't fathom the effort of turning back?

Occasionally life is black or white. Can or can't.

Often though, life is one great gray area. Try or don't. And when we encounter a gray spot, perhaps we should view it as a green light, and gun the gas pedal.

Will you do so, even if it means you have to first turn around?


  1. That Friend of yours, Cindy, she's brilliant or lost somewhere out west.

  2. The concept is simple. Goals must be realistic and obtainable. We however are not that simple.

  3. Knowing your friend Cindy, I find her extremely bright and if she decided to turn around she most certainly would or if she decided what the heck, I'll keep heading west, she wouldn'g get lost!

    Cindy's "other mom"

  4. Anon #1: Lost AND brilliant. She has it all going on.

    Anon #2: You are correct. We are not that simple. Guess that's the good news and the bad news.

    Cindy's "Other Mom": Yeah, but her real mom could probably tell you some stories...