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Petty Goals

petty goals keanuEveryone craves a sense of accomplishment. Sadly, you can’t expect to become rich or famous overnight, and too often, people create such lofty goals for themselves that they’re left wanting. Keanu Reeves probably craves an Oscar, but he’d be a lot happier if he shot for something a little more manageable; like adding actual human inflection to one line of dialog before he dies.

I learned early to avoid lofty ambitions, and instead revel in the sweet reward of achieving petty goals.

Leading a life of utter fulfillment is easy when you keep your hopes and aspirations low. For instance, I keep a “to do” lists for myself, for no other reason than the joy I attain by crossing off items.  Could I add “make more money” to the list? Sure. But why, when it could remain there for decades? Why, when instead I could write “make a vodka and lemonade?” Remember to add things you already did to the list retroactively, just so you can immediately cross them off.

  1. Breathe in.
  2. Breathe out.

You can also achieve petty goals at work.  For instance, has a co-worker had a baby, forcing you to watch everyone coo over photos of a bald-headed peanut you could have made yourself, given nine months, the reinstatement of prohibition,  and two minutes alone with any living male over the age of consent?  You could get married and have an adorable kid, but why?  That’s way too difficult.  Instead, you can pretend you adopted a kid. Adopted kid always trumps biological kid. And most picture frames come with adorable kids already in them. Just buy the appropriate frame, put it on your desk and wait for the onslaught of adoring fans.

  1. Steal attention from breeder.

Or, you could just bring a box of kittens into work. You can get kittens at a shelter for almost nothing. Tell everyone that you found the box o’ kittens outside in the parking lot.  Immediately, everyone will forget about Momma, and your cubicle will be the center of attention. Whenever people utter your name, it will be followed with “you know, the girl who saved all the kittens.” As a side bonus, you might find actual parents for the kittens, which is good, because shelters really frown on taking boxes of kittens and then returning them the next day, believe me.

  1. Become office kitteh hero.

Collections are another great way to feed a craving for accomplishment, but be careful to avoid collections that never end. Coins? Stamps? There are millions of those. Write “collect all the coins” on a to do list and you’re in for a world of hurt.  You need to start collections you can complete, like “own all top ten hits by Chumbawamba.”  Chumbawamba just broke up so you don’t have to worry about another “Tubthumping” coming out of left field.  Special note: Be wary of bands with a lot of remix albums like the Beastie Boys. That’s a trap.

  1.  Watch all episodes of “Animal Practice”

There are a million goals you can accomplish within your own family. I like to play a game called “Make Mom Curse.” My mother rarely curses. But if you work her up into a proper froth, by, for example, suggesting that Tom Selleck isn’t the sexiest man alive, sometimes she’ll slip.  The joy derived from hearing your mother call someone an asshole is almost indescribable. Give yourself a point scale ranging from one point for a “hell” or “damn” to 10 for the f-bomb.   If all else fails, you can trick her by wondering aloud what they call those structures beavers make. Like any mom she’ll have to tell you, and then BOOM! – one point.

  1. Take TV remote from Dad and change channel once without him noticing

Sure “damn” and “dam” are technically different words, but it isn’t really cheating. Remember, with all your petty goals:

You make the rules.

Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling author specializing in fun, funny fiction --- even the murder mysteries.
Amy Vansant

28 Responses

  1. Lynn Kellan

    Ah. Perhaps my revised goal for today will be “be a mom for Halloween.” There. I’m already dressed the part!

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  2. Abby

    I’ve always been a big fan of making a list of things I’ve already done so I can cross them off. Another option? Simply change all the “o’s” in your “to-do” list to “a’s” and then Ta-da! Mission accomplished.

    Rock star status of productivity achieved (crosses “comment on Amy’s blog off the list…)

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  3. Carrie

    Petty Goals are the way to go.

    Mine for today: Show up at work. DONE!(see how I left out the part where I actually do my job? because, yeah right.)

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  4. Jessica

    I can totally get behind this. I’ve already crossed off: Get dressed, drink tea, pee, and swear at dog. So productive!!

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  5. Lance

    I don’t do “to do Lists” but if I did I would put “wake up” and “go to the bathroom” in the first two slots. I’d feel very accomplished if I did nothing else.

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  6. SarcasticNinja

    Be careful with your creature of choice for becoming the office animal rescue hero–kittens and puppies are ok. Frogs and rats may have unintended results.

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    • Amy Vansant

      I’ve heard (and it could be BS) that real American Indians naturally have little inflection to their voice, and I’ve heard (could be BS) that HE is an American Indian. So I suppose I could give him a pass…
      Nah.

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  7. Sue

    I am generally an underachiever but never thought of writing a to-do list that I’ve already finished all that stuff on… that’s brilliant. Plus, if I can make myself look good in the process it’s a win/win for everyone (that I care about which is mostly just myself). I can leave the finished list on the cupboard so my husband (who is totally correct in thinking that I don’t do crap while he’s at work) will that I’m totally amazing. Thanks!!

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    • Amy Vansant

      That’s a good idea… I can leave notes all over the house making it look like I’m amazingly productive! Of course Mike and I work in the same house, so he could get suspicious.

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  8. Laura

    I just added “be as funny as you” to my real to-do list… Setting myself up for failure there.

    Great post! 🙂

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  9. Jen

    You beat me to it. I was just about to write about my “un-list.” I may do it anyway.

    I can’t cross off “watching Animal Practice.” Tried once and it was so bad I had to change the channel. But, maybe that was your point. It’s early and my brain is still in barely functional mode.

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  10. Banana Stickers

    This is brilliant. I am often so busy every day with a to do list twice the size of the migraine it induces, and I wind up going to bed feeling like a complete failure when things like “learn to be in three places at once” and “clone thyself” don’t get crossed off the list.
    So I’ll make yesterday’s accomplishment “get a mild concussion”. CHECK. Today, “obtain a delicious hamburger”. PENDING. But very doable considering there’s a Dairy Queen about twenty feet from my work.
    You may have changed my life in a very good way. Thank you.

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