Evaluating Goals

Suburban Stockade Banner self-sufficiency

new-suburban-stockade-introEvery goal may look like it fulfills one objective but often they fulfill multiple objectives.

The goal of improving your fitness is like that. It works on multiple levels. You get healthier, your clothes fit better, you’re more able to tolerate a wide range of stresses, you can work better at all kinds of physical projects without injuring yourself, you save some money on health care (quit smoking!), you can evacuate a building on fire by running down 87 flights of stairs followed by a two-mile jog to an evacuation point, and you get to meet more of your neighbors when they see you jogging around the neighborhood with your dog! Multiple goals are achieved with a single goal: improving your physical fitness.

Periodically we look around and check to see if we are on track with our goals. We update and change our goals when needed. We ask ourselves the question, is what we’re doing helping us to meet our goals?

If the answer is no, and it is no over and over, then you have to ask the hard question of why not. Financial independence is a terrific example. If you’re serious about getting out of debt and not being a slave to your creditors, then why aren’t you working harder to do so? Maybe you aren’t doing the hard work of selling all your excess stuff on eBay because you really don’t care and you don’t want to be bothered. If that is so, then you need a different goal.

But if you really do want to be out of debt, then you need to figure out why you’re sabotaging yourself.

The same is true of food gardening, your exercise program, and any other improvement efforts. If you state that something is important to you, then why aren’t you doing it?

Because it’s hard? Well, yeah. Exercise every day takes time and effort and the payoff takes forever. Having an extensive garden means you have to take care of it, learn to cook it all, preserve the excess for the winter, and then train the family to eat what you can grow. Is that what you want?

I think it’s very important to revisit your goals on a regular basis. That way, you can see if you are achieving them, you can update your goals, and if you just won’t do something that you say you want to do, you can figure out why not. Maybe the answer is that you shouldn’t be doing something. That happens.

I used to do a lot more cooking from scratch and serious food and wilderness gardening. I don’t do nearly as much now as I don’t have the time when I’m trying to write several thousand words a day.

My updated goals include finishing “Fortress Peschel” and releasing it as a book via Peschel Press. Editing all these essays into a coherent whole will be a challenge, I’m sure. This will take time.

I’ve been thinking seriously about writing a how-to-sew book about nightgowns and pajamas. Most of us wear them, they’re easy to sew, and fit is unimportant.

I make something that I call a Not-Quilt. It’s hard to explain, but they’re not hard to make. It’s certainly easier than piecing and sewing a real quilt. You make them from the scrap fabric you have on hand, you recycle things you didn’t think you could, such as dead electric blankets and ugly bedspreads, and the finished product looks just like a quilt. It functions like one, too.

evaluating goals quilt

The cat was pieced together from scraps, too.

That’s in the future as I have to make another Not-Quilt, and this time photograph the process and write it up as I go.

I’m also writing a series of novels set on a terraformed Mars. This will allow me to work out my thoughts on resource depletion, sustainability, class and status issues, with plenty of sex and violence to flavor the ride. Does this take time away from all my other efforts? You bet it does. But I want to do this and not just because I have things to say about the management of limited resources. I want to make some money!

So in order to meet my new goal of writing thousands of words every day, other goals have gone by the wayside. Fortunately, the underlying goals of Fortress Peschel have long been financial independence and sustainability. Having no debt and money in the bank (those emergency funds!) lets us do this. Having spent years of our precious life energy to make our house low maintenance means we don’t have to do it as much anymore. This frees up time and money for the writing project.

Knowing how to cook from scratch and having a fridge means I can cook large meals every few days, and we eat leftovers the other days. Your family can be trained to do this. You are not a short-order cook.

The garden has been essentially put aside. We’ve let most of the raised beds go fallow. That means we pile them high with leaves every fall and ignore them. The soil critters break down the leaves and improve the soil and we don’t do a thing. When we get back to serious food production, I expect that the soil will be in much better shape than when we started. We keep up with the mowing and any needed pruning and weeding and it’s been working out so far.

I no longer make elaborate Halloween costumes for the offspring. They’ve aged out of the system so I don’t spend weeks of time (or money) on turning Darling Daughter into a vampire or Younger Son into a ninja.

halloween costumes

Only eight years ago. Tempus fugut.

I still do plenty of mending. It’s cost-effective, and it takes less time to repair something than it does to go shopping for a replacement. Sometimes the mending pile gets pretty big before I have the time to visit it, but you can’t have everything.

Many of the systems here at Fortress Peschel, such as the clothesline and the drying racks and the heavy window quilts, were put in use so long ago that we can’t imagine doing anything else. They’re part of the daily routine, just like exercising, jobbing my errands together, and writing. They save time and money and so we still do them. They’re maintenance now, and no longer goals to achieve.

I can’t suggest a specific time schedule to use to check on your goals and whether or not you’re accomplishing them. Only you can do that. At a minimum, however, you should ask yourself once a year, are you going in the direction you want to? Are you getting done what you want to? Are you managing your time so that you do what you say you want to rather than binge-watching TV?

Your goals say what matters to you. Managing your time so you accomplish your goals says that you really meant it.