Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Life Goals--or, um, Did I Forget Something?

Cce over at Mad Marriage tagged me the other day for a meme about goals not realized. At first, I felt nothing but flattered, in a Sally Field-ish sort of way. Then, I felt nothing. That is, I utterly blanked at the word goals – never mind the “not realized” part.

What are these things called goals? Have I ever had one? Would I know it if I had?

Okay, here’s one. I wanted to be named one of Esquire magazine’s “Thirty Under Thirty.” Do they still do that feature? I gave up watching after I’d passed thirtyfive and Esquire had still not called.

I was beginning to feel a bit frantic about not having any Goals Not Realized to write about, so I did what I do whenever I feel confused: I researched the topic. If I don’t know what a goal is, surely the rest of the world will. Obviously. They’d have to. As they, unlike I, are functioning human beings. So I went trolling for Goals.

I went back to Cce's post and saw that she, too, has a problem with goals. “Aside from that MFA, I can’t think of anything I’ve set out to accomplish. Truly, I’ve got nothing. Perhaps I just have the ability to back off my goals, adapting to failure in a way that conveniently disguises my initial intentions.”

Okay, that's a kindred soul, but it's not particularly helpful for my purposes. So I checked the post of Ron, who originally tagged Cce, and saw that he has flipped the meaning of the meme. “Five Goals I’ve Never Taken Seriously” is how he titles it and the first three are telling: he’s never taken staying fashionable serious, or growing up, or getting the final goal in the World Cup. The meme for him, then, is Five Goals The World Thinks Are Important But I Am Better Than That. I followed his lead to the five bloggers he had tagged, but of them, only Cce had responded. Were the others too busy? Too befuddled by the meme’s actually meaning? Too befogged by the weightiness of calculating their goals?

Moving right along to the other four who Cce had tagged, this is what I found: SlouchingMom cited the meme as “What Five Goals Have You Largely Ignored?” All of them, she says. She realized relatively early that goal-making was, for her, somewhat crazy-making. “Goals are not good for me. I’m trying to live one day at a time, enjoy the here-and-now, something historically almost impossible for me. And that may be the one goal that I am proud to say I have more or less achieved, though I backslide from time to time.” And that was it for Cce’s other four.

So I googled: goals meme. And there I saw the way in which the meme had morphed.

One Alex Shalman seems to be the originator of the meme, and this is what his prompt for it is: “list and write about the top 5 to 10 goals that you gotta’ get so that you can truly say you have achieved your wildest dreams in life. These have to be your best, most exclusive, and over-the-top goals that you can pick off your goals list.”

Wow! That’s one fine game of telephone: from goals you gotta get to goals you’ve largely ignored. I wonder where the first bend in the road (to mix my metaphors) came. Who was the initial person to just slightly altered the meme to fit their own state of mind.

The conventional wisdom, when I was in the PhD program, was that the choice of your dissertation topic had more to say about your psyche than your critical interests. I’m reminded of that in this foray into the Goals Meme: how one answered depended on how one read the meme, and that had everything to do with where you are, as they used to say, “at.”

I'm slightly confused, so I go back to Alex Shalman's site, to see who he is and if therein is a clue to the morphing of the meme.

Ahhhhhh, yes. Alex Shalman sub-titles his site, "Practical Personal Development." He is about self-fulfillment and promises to make and keep as only a twentytwo year old can be. For those of us a tad older--well, we kinda recognize the way that wildest dreams goals reach up to bite you in the butt.

Still, I don't want to be a bad sport, so here are my five tags to do the meme next, , whatever it is, and however they want to phrase it: Toady Joe, Queen of Dysfunction, Leahpeah, Blurbomat, and HelenJane.


  1. Sorry you felt frantic but so glad that others have trouble scaring up a goal or two. Now I don't feel so dysfunctional. Also, thanks for researching the meme. The blogosphere is definitely one great big game of telephone at work and I love it!
    As for scratching, where are you most ticklish? Best Blog ever, the Blogitizer, both?
    Seriously, my post today was all in jest but I love that a few good sports actually took action and nominated me...hilarious. Now I'm just not sure whether or not I can honestly post that button saying 'This Blog has been nominated for a Blogitizer'. I'm much too sarcastic for true competition. Plus as I've disclosed in previous posts, I don't do competition of the sort I can't win very often.

  2. cce: Yeah, I just can't get myself to do the promoting --I'm far to "gee shucks-ish" I don't do competitions I can't win either which is, I've come to realize, a sucky attitude that hurts only me.

  3. I was tagged by CCE as well and have yet to complete my goals. Typical! I can't figure out what they were to begin with!


So--whaddaya think?