3 Ingredients for Accomplishing Any Ridiculous Goal

I am conflicted about ridiculous goals. I believe in them, and I admire people who set them, but I admit to erring on the side of achievable goals. They make me feel better, especially when I cross them off my list. But ridiculous goals are definitely where the money is, where the excitement is, where the fun is.

I have some experience with ridiculous goals. How else could I have transitioned from Certified Public Accountant to best-selling author? (New York Times, I’ll get you yet.) How else could I lead a hyper-talented editorial team to create the #1 country music and lifestyle media property in the whole wide world? How else could I be the primary laundry caretaker for two teenagers, a husband, and a dog?

Ridiculous goals. That’s how.

Ridiculous or practical, the mechanics of accomplishing any goal are the same. And they are not complicated. If you can follow a recipe, you can achieve your goals. You would have to be living under a rock for the last 30 years to have missed the over-abundance of literature (do we call it literature?) on the subject of setting and achieving goals. It’s simple: Set a date, break big dreams into small steps, take action, measure, repeat.

It’s the take action part that most people miss, but that’s another topic for another day.

But before you make the list (or spreadsheet), before you have dates in the calendar, you need some basic ingredients. There are only three: Vision, Skills, and Network.

Those working together will get absolutely anything done.

Vision

This one is tricky, and there are two pieces. First, what do you really want? What is the end goal? Second, and I think more important, is the vision we have of ourselves. Are you the person who will accomplish this particular big thing? Are you the person who will rise above the challenges and circumstances? Are you the person who will persevere when the shit gets tough?

Skills

Let’s assume you know what you want and you’ve convinced yourself you’re the one to do it. Despite your fancy spreadsheets (or humble lists), your committed intention, and your dutiful action, if you do not possess the skills to accomplish your goal, you won’t get very far. Invest in your skills, Invest in understanding what skills are require to get a particular thing done, and then invest in acquiring them. Whether or not you achieve your goal, the skills you build in the process are yours to keep. Warren Buffet famously counsels that this is the best investment anyone can make:

Generally speaking, investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. They can run up huge deficits and the dollar can become worth far less. You can have all kinds of things happen. But if you’ve got talent yourself, and you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold.

 

Network

Never underestimate the power of groups, and never give up just because you don’t have the right network, YET. Some of us are born into certain networks, or we acquire them by school, work, or social association. Most of us have to artfully assemble the right people to help us reach our goals.

This year I encouraged my daughter to participate in local year-long fundraising program for a national charity. I wanted her to participate in the program so she would learn to combine the three key ingredients: Vision, Skills, and Network.

I wanted her to see herself as the kind of person who commits and follows through, who steps out into a challenge, an uncomfortable task, an unknown situation, with grace and confidence.

I wanted her to develop the planning and scheduling skills she would need to complete the programs. But mostly, I wanted her to learn how to ask for money, because as I see it, that’s an incredibly valuable skill.

I wanted my daughter to nurture a network with the other girls from different schools and towns.

I’m pretty sure she’s just in it for the dress she will wear to the ball at the end.

That’s okay. A girl’s got to have a goal.


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson speaking

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs.

Ten Lessons from the Junior League

Junior League lessons

Boas, leis, plastic hats and tiaras– more important lessons from the Junior League.

All I need to know I learned in the Junior League. Okay, so maybe I picked up a few things elsewhere, but the Junior League has been the source for so many good things in my life. I’m talking about Junior League here because that’s my group, but there are other organizations of women. While they all have challenges, there are particular things that I could not have learned anywhere else. Whatever you think about the Junior League in particular, and women’s organizations in general, I offer here my experience.

10 things I’ve learned so far:

1. Best friends help you hide the body.
Nothing builds team faster than getting a job done. Take your ropes courses and your weird corporate ice-breakers. Give me a room full of women–the shy ones, the bossy ones, the ones that make you spit Chardonnay out your nose–and let’s get to work on something for someone else. We might complain a little, but we’ll get the job done and we’ll love each other more in the end. (Or not, and that’s okay too.)

2. When in doubt, serve something salty, something sweet, and a soda.
Oh, to be a real Southerner and know these things. Alas, I am not. While I often feel like a stranger in the strange land of hospitality, I have also learned to adopt the ways of these creatures who seem to have been imbued at birth with the ability to make guests feel at home. I keep trying. What I’ve learned so far is that it doesn’t have to be fancy. A salty, a sweet, and something to wash it all down goes a long way toward making life a little more pleasant.

3. It really does make a difference when the name tags match the invitations match the napkins.
Okay, it doesn’t, but it does. I am not one to complicate a simple situation, and not a fan of making everything “special,” which nearly always results in a giant competition of who and what can be the most special of all the very special goings on. Some of my favorite gatherings have taken place on a driveway around a box of wine. But when you are going for special–sparingly, mind you–the details matter. And they don’t have to be overwhelming or over-the-top. Steer clear of Pinterest for this one. Call the hostess you love best instead.

4. We can do more than we think we are capable of, always, every time.
We are bigger together. We are better together. That part is obvious. I can accomplish more with a team than I can all by myself. But even when we’re all alone, just having a support system in place makes me more confident. I have infrastructure, and help. I have a network of women who will push me up, along, and out of bed if needed in order to get the  job done. And it doesn’t matter whether that job is at home, at work, or in the League.

5. Public speaking won’t kill you. 
I learned to speak in public at the general meeting. And guess what? I shook, I sweated, I fumbled all my words. But I didn’t die. And it was kind of fun. I found my voice and I learned to use it to affect change in the room and in the community. So if you’re ever asked to get up in front of a group of women and speak, do it. Make words through the terror and then get up and do it again next time.

6. Everything in life is easier with friends, especially bossy ones.
Sometimes you just need a wingwoman, someone who is there for you, who gets you at least a little. When you join an association of women like the Junior League, your network is built in. Even the horrors of public speaking are minimized when you have a kind face in the front row, cheering you on. Treasure those friendships you make in the League. You never know where they will lead. Seriously, never underestimate the power of women coming together for a common goal.

7. If you don’t have a friend in the room, you can always make one.
And for those times when you don’t know a soul in the place, the League gives you valuable tools to get to know them. Need a friend? Just ask. What’s your placement? Where are you from? Why do you suppose chose these horrible t-shirts? And if all that fails, feign interest until you can safely move on to the next potential friend.

8. Yes, there will always be “those girls.” What’s your point?
A lot of the criticism I hear about the Junior League is based in misinformation, but the complaint that the League is full of “those girls” is true. So what? Look around. They are everywhere. I dare you to find a concentration of women where there is not a contingent of the kind of back-biting morons we all hoped we left behind in middle school. What I know to be true is that organizations of women also attract the kind of women I most want to be around. Smart, sexy, seriously capable, and most-of-the-time immune to the petty things that are bound to creep into our interactions.

9. Cause for celebration is everywhere.
We’re back to the Southern thing, because that’s where I found myself in the Junior League, but I suspect there are Yankees capable of whipping up an Arbor Day cocktail hour or a National Pencil Week potluck. Celebrating success is so important to future success. Sometimes we need a theme in order to feel entitled to celebrate the success of an ordinary day. So bring it on, birthday of the inventor of the Cupcake. I eat frosting in honor of thee!

10. Everyone else is not the leader. You are the leader.
I have had a few strongly worded discussions over the years about what is a leader, and whether or not all members of the League, or any organization, are interested in taking on “leadership” roles. Here’s the deal. If you’re at a committee meeting, you’re a leader. Someone is looking up to you, or not even up so much as at–they are looking at you to get something done. Someone hopes you have the answers, or at least the stilettos to fake a solution until the right one comes along. You are the leader. Act accordingly

For most of my adult life, I have made my best friends in the Junior League. And as one of them likes to say, “That’s not nothing.”

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak this fall, or at any of your upcoming events! Your members, all busy women who find time to give back to their communities, leave feeling appreciated and inspired. I love to speak to groups of women. If you need a speaker for your women’s group meeting, let me know. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs. 


Books Make Great Gifts!

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Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.