goals are for giving

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of America, or soccer, or American soccer – this was a great goal, and the reaction is EPIC:

It all makes no sense.

Dudes: you just won. You’ve been running around all day. Isn’t this a good time to relax and kick back?

Soccer players run more in a game than you do in a month. These players finally win, the game is over, and what do they do? Catch their breath? Nope. They freak out! Run around, arms in the air, jumping all over each other.

I can feel it. Watching that video always makes me happy.

What if our default is joy?

What if the right goals GIVE you energy?

If you don’t feel this way about your goals, maybe you have the wrong goals.


I originally wrote the following for HS students on a 2014-2015 course blog.

“Why bother creating our own goals,” a student once asked me, “when we’re already told what it means to succeed in school?  Aren’t we just supposed to get A’s?”


Being able to set and achieve goals is important in every endeavor: sports, organizations, self-improvement, emptying the dishwasher before your mother gets home. Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski requires his players to set goals for themselves and the team each season.  In Coach K’s words, “Mutual commitment helps overcome the fear of failure—especially when people are part of a team sharing and achieving goals. It also sets the stage for open dialogue and honest conversation.”

When you share your goals you’re sharing ideas that inform and inspire your colleagues.  These goals will form the basis for your Learning Plan over the spring semester.

Keep something else in mind.  Unlike players on a soccer or a basketball team, you can change the game itself.  Why not analyze a Russian novel by comparing it with its modern film adaptation?  Watch Anna Karenina and then think about how to demonstrate what you know in such a way that it will help us.  Huh?  You’d rather build a robot that writes, reads, interprets, and explains Russian novels to irritating teacher types? Cool. Do that.


Set a goal. And do it for yourself, for the love of the game, for the thrill of victory. For the sake of everything that ever mattered to anyone, DON’T do it for a grade.
In fact, if you are still thinking of this as a high school course to be gamed, please immediately find your closest friend and ask her to roll up a newspaper and smack you on the nose with it.*  (*If this doesn’t work the first time, ask a friend who reads the newspaper on a computer.**) [**In this day and age, I should probably point out that this is not an actual instruction. Hands are not for hitting. Baseball bats are, but that isn’t really relevant or appropriate here and now I find myself wondering how Montaigne ever righted the stream-of-consciousness ship once he got off on one of these tangents.] If you’re one of those people who cut corners last semester and thought we didn’t notice, she will be doing you a favor.  It’s better that you get your act together in private before we get started, before everyone sees what you do all the time, before 70% of your course grade is determined by your learning network.


Like so many things school doesn’t teach, understanding goals and our feelings about them are essential to living successful lives. For more information, click here for your free guide to OSL or Contact Me directly.