I’m a list-making kind of person. Nothing warms my little heart more than a bullet list of things to do, reasons to move, what I love about Poldark… the list of lists is endless.

List-making is a facet of a larger endeavor – Goal-setting. But setting goals isn’t something I’ve given much thought to. I typically decide to do something, then do it. I don’t worry too much about the process or try to define the steps to get there.

Until recently.

As a Renaissance soul, I’m capable of following almost any whim that comes along and mastering it to boredom. Mostly, it’s a great thing to be. Except when it’s not. When it eats up time better spent elsewhere or tempts you to spend the grocery money on supplies for your new shiny pursuit, it can become a weakness.

So, the question isn’t Can I Meet That Goal. I already know I can. The question now becomes Which Goals Are Worthy of Attainment?

Turns out, all you need are SMART goals – something the business world has been throwing around for a while now. SMART is an acronym (that’s a fancy kind of list!), and it stands for:






(I was tempted to bullet that list for you, but I settled for block quotes.I’m learning restraint, see?)

SPECIFIC – Large, undefined goals are overwhelming. Specific, explainable goals are within reach. Sure you can have big goals, but be sure to break them down into smaller, specific tasks, or mini-goals. Write this down.

MEASURABLE – This is a huge, overlooked step that has gotten me every time. You need to know how far you’ve come so you’ll know when you’ve arrived. Be able to express the steps of your goal in terms of a budget, time invested, days required, or other quantifiable method. Take a moment to visualize what it will look like when you have reached your goal. Take a mental picture of it. Draw it or write the scene down and post it somewhere visible so you will recognize it when it comes to life.

ATTAINABLE – Be realistic so you set yourself up for success. You can’t be an astronaut if you drop out of school and never visit NASA. Now, you might be able to finish your education and go to Space Camp. That would at least get you closer to the Great Beyond. Know your strengths and the intermediate steps you can take to get you in the running for your goal.

REALISTIC – You have to be BOTH willing and able to reach your goal. I wanted to be a ballerina, but I never had dance lessons and got scoliosis. Being a ballerina isn’t going to happen for me. Dance is something I enjoy (I have the will), but a goal in that area isn’t realistic for me (I lack the ability). Don’t worry. There’s plenty more goals to shoot for.

TIMELY – They say an open-ended goal is one that is never completed – or at least takes much longer than it should have. Have a time-frame set for the various steps of your goal and a deadline for completion. If you haven’t reached your goal by the deadline, analyze what held you up, make adjustments, and keep going. It helps to have some options built in, too. If you plan to sell your house and move by the end of the year, what will you do if it doesn’t sell? Wait idly until it does? Or move anyway and rent out your old house? Or take a better job elsewhere and support a 2nd home for a time?

As my dad likes to say, “Plan your Work and Work your Plan.” Make SMART goals and know when you get there. Take time to celebrate, then make a new goal! I’m pretty sure I have a list of goals around here somewhere….

Growing Up, or Growing Down?


You don’t have to talk to me for very long before the subject of tiny houses comes up. I’ve seen every episode of every show devoted to living small. I’ve perused blueprints and Pinterest posts. Bought how-to books and even visited a tiny living community. What is the attraction?

At first glance, tiny houses are cute. It seems like a relief to live with only the essential items you need. It’s appealing to spend less money, be mortgage-free, afford luxury decor that becomes suddenly affordable in small quantities.

But for those who dig deeper, there’s a more profound attraction. A fundamental change in the foundation of who we are. Ryan Mitchell, in his book Tiny House Living, gets to the heart of this change. He believes that most people have a sense of being a hamster on the wheel, of wanting to change the status quo, but feel powerless to do so.

Why? Most of the reasons to avoid change are mental barriers. Not physical ones. We’re afraid of people questioning our choices, criticizing how we want to live, concerned about how we will achieve it. I believe these mental barriers exist for all change – not just going tiny.

We are at a tipping point in society where more people are waking up to the reality that there is no need to keep up with the Johnson’s because the Johnson’s are sitting in their over-priced, over-sized house with no furniture because they can’t afford any, and they aren’t looking at us anyway. Some are looking overseas and realizing that the majority of the world lives with less – and better – than we do. Others have done the math and discovered that smaller living leads to bigger adventures.

It’s called Growing Up, America. And it means it’s time to grow ourselves down to a more manageable, more meaningful size.

And this movement to downsize possessions has caught on to our psyche. Now we want to downsize our debt. Eliminate emotional clutter. Weed out toxic friends.

For the hundreds of people who actually live tiny, there are thousands who mentally yearn to incorporate those qualities in their lives – even if they never move from their current location.

And that is why we keep on this quest to pare down who it is we think we are, identify our needs and wants, work towards working less and looking inward more.

But beware. Knowing who you are has consequences. It brings a focus to your life that wasn’t there before. You gain confidence, energy, positivity. The ability to seize an opportunity when it happens your way. This will attract some people and repel others.

That’s okay. Any clearing out of closets and basements results in a re-ordering of your mind. You recognize that you have simply outgrown some things (or people), while others no longer serve their purpose. Gift them to someone else. Let them find their own path. They are not on your journey. They merely accompanied you for a little while.

Is it realistic to think that I could live in a tiny house with two teenagers? Well, not with these teenagers. And possibly not with my hobbies and interests. (I’ll take you on a tour of my Renaissance world sometime.) But I can take the best of the idea behind tiny living so I can live small and dream big.

“Casting On” Appears in Gravel Literary Magazine

Fall cleaning often means time to re-organize.  The shelves, cabinets, drawers, shed, basement…nothing is safe when the mood to clean out strikes!  For me, organizing is essential to a fresh beginning, and that inspired my latest piece, “Casting On“.   This personal essay appears in the November 2013 issue of Gravel Literary Magazine, and fuses the idea of beginnings with the determination and frustrations that accompany learning any new endeavor – even if it’s just a couple of sticks and some string.

Knitting Kit-Jimin

(Photo credit: nist6ss)

Take a moment to visit this extraordinary magazine and enjoy the offerings of some very creative minds.