Jumping Out of My Comfort Zone

Just me (hoping my deodorant is working) and Gary (wondering what the heck I'm going to say)

Just me (hoping my deodorant is working) and Gary (wondering what the heck I’m going to say)

A few weeks ago I received a text from my friend Lagina, who is the executive director of the Perry County Chamber of Commerce, asking me to speak at their upcoming quarterly breakfast. Never having done anything like that, I put her off. I knew it was something I should do, but I had no idea where to begin. And why me? After speaking with my husband, I decided to do it. How can I ask my eighth graders or people in my classes at the gym to step out of their comfort zones if I’m not willing to do the same?

We decided on the topic of setting goals. Okay…I had a topic – now what? After a few days of stressing out, I decided I would write it as a blog, and then somehow turn it into a talk. It wasn’t difficult to write, so this seemed to be the perfect approach. As the date approached, I became more and more nervous. Lagina sent me texts of encouragement; she really seemed to have much more confidence in me than I had in myself.

This morning was the breakfast. I had a stomach ache for the 24 hours prior to the engagement, but still arose before dawn to teach at the gym, and then readied myself for the big event. Thankfully, some of my friends from school were there, along with my husband – always my faithful supporter. Once I started speaking, I was fine. I had six pages of notes, but didn’t even use them. Afterward I realized I had left a lot out, which was probably for the best because it might have been too long (and people might have thrown hard-boiled eggs at me!). Below I pasted the full text.

In the end, I was really glad that Lagina thought enough of me to have me speak. I don’t know that I necessarily inspired anyone, but I did it. And I didn’t throw up, say anything ridiculous, talk in my Northern Indiana speed talk, or embarrass my family or employer. I’d say that’s a successful day. Hold on to your hat…this is really long!

Setting and Achieving Goals

When Lagina asked me to speak, my first thought was what do I have to offer chamber members? Clearly it isn’t business advice; I’ve had one successful business, and one flop. However, I’ve achieved many of the goals I set for myself through determination (sometimes stubbornness) and hard work; the support of others has also played a role in my meeting goals. All I can do is share my experiences, and if that inspires one of you to achieve more, I’ve met my goal for this morning.

My goals can be divided into three categories: professional goals, personal goals, and community goals. I have a lot of little goals throughout the week, such as actually getting all of the laundry finished and put away rather than leaving that one load in the washer until it has to be rewashed, but today we will focus on larger goals.

My professional goals have evolved over the years. I have always been ambitious, and am always thinking about what else I can do – what more I can achieve. As many of you know, I started as a hairdresser many years ago. I tried college, but at that time had no direction or goals, therefore no motivation. I had a lot of fun in that semester, and then it was back home. I decided to go to school to be a hairdresser. Once I had worked for a few years, a friend and I decided to open our own salon, Hair Razors (that’s the successful one). After a few years of owning that business, I decided I wanted more. I wanted a college degree. When I was 32, had three young daughters, and worked full-time, I enrolled at Brescia in the education program. I was terrified. Although it had been years since I’d been in the classroom, it didn’t take long to realize that I loved learning. I graduated with honors, and began teaching, first at the prison, and then at Wm. Tell. I have since earned a master’s degree, and extended my license so that I can teach English at any level. Three years ago I moved from the elementary school to Tell City Jr. Sr. High School. I am so honored to work in a corporation that that has set goals to maintain high standards while at the same time nurturing our students. It’s a thrill to work at the school from which I graduated. It took many steps and many smaller goals to get here, but meeting each of those goals brought another level of satisfaction. Next on my agenda – I am currently enrolled in a real estate course, and have set a goal of earning my license by the beginning of 2016.

I have had failures along the way. Remember the Magnolia Tree? That was a great idea, but we didn’t have the time or money to keep sinking into it until it became profitable. I have some regrets about opening a gift shop, but I also remember Dr. Rudolph telling me (probably while she had her fingers in my mouth) it wasn’t a failure because between Hair Razors and the Magnolia Tree, we had been instrumental in developing that corner of 12th Street. She helped me see the positive in failing to meet that goal.

Setting personal goals makes my life so much more rewarding. Honestly, I can’t imagine not having something I am working toward. A few years ago, Gary and I realized how out of shape we were. Our evenings consisted of sitting on the couch watching Law and Order, and our diet consisted of anything that tasted good. Although we weren’t overweight by today’s standards, we certainly were not in good shape, and the simplest of activities left us out of breath. We talked for several months about making changes, but change is difficult. And what if we failed? I couldn’t decide what type of exercise to embark upon because in past years I would get really into something, and then just quit. I was working, raising kids, and going to school; I obviously had no time. As I was trying to make my decision, Gary began to run. It was winter; he is 16 years older than I am; and he has an artificial knee. Why the heck did he have to choose running? If he could do it, I had no valid excuse to not try. I wasn’t very happy with him. But we ran. At ages 42 and 58, we decided to become runners. We ran on our gravel road because it was secluded and we certainly didn’t want anyone to see us huffing and puffing down the road. We then set goals to run the 2-mile Schweizer Fest run. That goal seemed insurmountable! Two miles seemed like a marathon to us.

To meet that first goal, we set smaller goals. Gary worked to run to one more telephone pole with each run. We both worked toward being able to run one mile, which we could do on our road. Once we’d reached that goal, we began to run in town. That’s really intimidating for a new runner, especially when we see the likes of Tony Hollinden and Eric Kehl out running, and they’re just chatting away while we’re trying not to pass out. I ended up meeting my two-mile goal early, so I decided to sign up for a 5K, and then another. At this point in my running, I hated it. My legs ached that entire summer, and running in the heat was pure torture. But I didn’t stop. I had such an immense feeling of accomplishment each time I completed a run, that I soon craved more. My goals became to run further distances and to get faster. In the past six years, I’ve run lots of 5Ks, a few 10Ks, and seven half marathons (that’s 13.1 miles!). With each race I’ve set goals; sometimes that involved time, and sometimes it was just to get it over with. Have I always met my race goals? No, but I never stopped trying. I am so thankful to have the support of my husband and our five kids. Without it, I’d have stopped a long time ago.

Sometimes our goals are out of our control. While I have the drive to run more half marathons, I don’t know that my knees will allow me to. I’ve already had surgery, and am still not where I’d like to be. And so I must adjust those goals. I won’t throw in the towel; I might just have to set aside my ego and walk during longer races. That won’t be easy; I’m slightly competitive. The point of all of this is that setting goals gives me incentive to train. It gives me motivation to get up every morning. When I don’t have something I’m working toward, I tend to slack off in everything.

My next personal goal is to complete the St. Jude Half Marathon in December. This race is not about times, or even running the whole race. My friends and I are participating with and for our friend Katie Weyer, a St. Jude survivor. Our goal is to support and love Katie, and to raise a lot of money for St. Jude. Sometimes personal goals aren’t about ourselves at all.

My final category of goals is community goals. That means something different to each of us. I hate meetings, so I am not one to join clubs or organizations. I’ve been in Tri Kappa and the Optimist Club, and I’ve gone through Leadership Perry County, but between my work obligations, teaching at Everbody’s, and taking a class, I have no time to sit in meetings. I’m far too antsy for that. So, how do I contribute to Perry County? This year it has been through Mary Poppins. As soon as I heard that there would once again be a Schweizer Fest Musical, and that it would be Mary Poppins, I was hooked. I set a goal to be in the show, as did our daughter Addison. To my husband’s dismay, that also meant he would be in the show. As it turned out, he – who had major reservations about making such a huge commitment – got a lead role, while I – who was so excited to spend my summer singing and dancing – got the role of a statue. (New goal – workout a lot so I could wear a unitard on stage in front of a couple thousand people). I actually had four roles, two of which involved some pretty difficult dancing. I worked my tail off all summer learning to tap dance and how to spell SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS, and do the hand motions. My goal was to not look foolish on stage. Ironically, I get the most compliments on my ability to stand still for five minutes, not my dancing that I had worked so diligently on.

This group – this amazing group – came together this summer to bring our community a fantastic show. We literally laughed together, sweated together, cried together, and practiced together to make Mary Poppins come to life. Without commitment to our goals, teamwork, and countless hours spent together, we would not have pulled it off. We practiced as an ensemble five nights a week for three to four hours. Besides that time, many of us met throughout the day or before regular rehearsal to work together on particular scenes. The teamwork was incredible.

It wasn’t just those you saw on stage who went above and beyond; it was also the set construction crew, the make-up, hair and wardrobe group, the ticket sellers, the donors, the director, and numerous others. I have never been associated with a better group of people. We came together as friends and acquaintances, and left as family, which meant we had a hard time leaving. When a group of people puts that much time and that much heart into a project, and then sees their goals met and appreciated by our community, it’s difficult to let go. This was evident in the weeks following the musical as we still stay in touch daily through Facebook, and look for reasons to get together.

And we aren’t finished. Our next community goal is to keep the momentum going, promote the arts in our area, and to that end, form a theater group. As a team, we will continue to set goals and do our part for the betterment of our community.

My challenge to each of you is to set some goals. Set a professional goal. It might be to generate more business, learn to use social media for marketing purposes, learn more about your field, or to find a way to enhance our community through your business. Set a personal goal; it can be to get in shape, eat healthier foods, spend more time with those you love, or to take time for yourself without feeling guilty. And set a community goal. We all have different gifts. Not everyone is cut out for committees and clubs, but you can spend time with a child who has no role models; you can spread the joy of music; or you can visit an elderly person who can no longer get out. Maybe you do prefer to use your skills on a board or committee. Choose one that you feel passionate about. Once you’ve set your goals, come up with a plan. What steps will you take to attain them? Who will you need on your team? If we all set professional, personal, and community goals, think what a wonderful home we will create for future generations.