On setting goals

Lists

Photo of lists

I live by lists. To do, to read, to cook, to buy, to pay, to try, to learn, to visit, to revisit … I have lists on my phone, my computer, my calendar, my notebook, my blog; Post-It’d up on the wall, scribbled on spare scraps of paper, and inked onto the back of my hand. You would think that such a commitment to time management would make me hyper-organized, but really I’m just out of breath. I’m constantly wrapped up in lists, planning for something, but often feel like I’m racing to catch up to my own schedule.

These lists as a whole translate into cyclical checkpoints: small, near-reaching goals that are “ticked” as quickly as they are written. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals as the big picture: Long-term, short-term, personal, professional… The privilege of being young and having so many options is liberating. The burden, however, is being young and completely disillusioned by time.

I want to believe that I have all the time in the world, to go and grow and fail and fix. How is it possible to have so much time and so little to waste? It’s a constant ebb and flow of abundance and thirst. The more I have, the more I want. But it doesn’t work that way.

Setting Goals

The Internet is lush with information on setting goals. Blog posts reveal the facts and figures, while Pinterest boards inspire users to pin their way to organized perfection. I found tips on setting goals for health and fitness, for financial planning, for professional development, and for 20-somethings specifically.

I’m definitely an advocate for setting goals, and believe they are something that should be reevaluated more than once a year. But I was relieved when I came across this article on the Huffington Post claiming that setting goals can do more harm that good. Stephanie Zamora writes that you should only have 2-3 priorities in your life at a time, or else you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed by exhaustion and disappointment.

At first I thought, “Great, now I need another list for priorities…” But the lesson here is to step back and decide what is truly important, and focus your time and energy doing those things. I had some trouble choosing only three, but I think these most accurately reflect the things that I want and love, in this moment. In no particular order:

Writing

Photo of notebook

This has recently become a joy for me. Although I majored in writing in college, I always approached it from the business standpoint: marketing, publicity, sales… I never thought that I would pursue writing in the creative sense, and actually enjoy doing it. This is a goal where I would like to focus more attention.

Objectives: Get better at curating material and develop a more concrete editorial calendar for this blog.

Travel

Photo Vally of Phocis

This, on the other hand, has been a lifetime love affair. There are few things I enjoy more than packing a bag and hitting the road, whether it is to discover a new place or return to my roots. It is thrilling to meet new people and indulge in new experiences, as it is a distinct pleasure to reconnect with familiar faces and places. Travel is an opportunity I hope to take advantage of for the rest of my life.

Objectives: Just keep going.

Health

Photo of yoga mat

How can any of us do anything without our health? My health is necessary to fulfill the aforementioned and any future goals in my life, and should be a priority. Also, there is something so fulfilling about being able to open a really tough jar. Early on, my lack of hand-eye coordination seriously hampered the development of any actual athletic ability. But I do enjoy a variety of physical activities, like running and yoga.

Objectives: Pay equal attention to mental health; Take the time to relax and unwind.

To live life by time’s watch is constricting; what is truly liberating is the ability fall into step with life as it comes. I don’t think that I’ll be able to relinquish my dependence on lists completely (I mean, I still need a list of top ten places to travel, right?). But I’m glad I’ve whittled away enough to put a few not-so-important objectives on the back burner. I’ll make a note to reevaluate in six months, but I’ll be okay if I lose it somewhere between the lines.

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NOT the same as ice cream

During a visit home last weekend, I watched part of Parental Guidance (2012), a cute but perfectly predictable family comedy. In the film, grandparents (played by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) make the mistake of buying an ice cream cake for their sugar-deprived grandchildren. Chaos ensues as the children devour the entire Carvel. Upon their mother’s return, the eldest accuses: “Mom, you lied to me! Yogurt is not like ice cream!”

That’s kind of how I felt when I tried this recipe that has bombarded the health boards of Pinterest since last summer:

 Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Photo of frozen banana

Freeze a banana overnight. Peel & chop into bite-size pieces.

Several food/cooking bloggers claim that if you freeze a banana and blend it till smooth, the result will yield a refreshing treat “just like soft serve ice cream!” No additional dairy, sweeteners, or ice cream maker needed. Learning to make ice cream was one of my goals for summer, but I was not quite ready to invest in the necessary equipment. This seemed like the perfect solution.

Photo of blended banana

Blend until smooth.

What I want to know is what sick and twisted health-food fanatic thought that a blended frozen banana could even compare to the rich and silky decadence that is ice cream. Sure, the result looks like ice cream, and the consistency is similar, but this cold, cream-less mush falls short of my snobbish standards.

Photo ice cream

Topped with fresh strawberries & chopped almonds.

Perhaps a blended banana concoction could serve as an adequate alternative for those so unfortunate to suffer from a lactose intolerance or dairy allergy. But it is by no means a substitute.

So do yourself a favor and indulge in the real deal. If you’re local to Boston, head down to your neighborhood J.P. Lick’s. Their featured flavors for June include Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb and Candied Ginger. Or, make a trip out to Toscanini’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge, where they boast unique flavors like Vienna Finger Cookie, Lemon Pistachio, Bourbon Black Pepper, and Earl Grey. Never settle for less when best is at the tip of your tongue.

While I have a few signature locations nailed down, I’m still on the hunt to find the best ice cream in the city. Apparently, it’s not to be found in my own kitchen.